As we leave behind a tumultuous 2016, trend forecasters and technologists have been wasting no time looking ahead. If last year was any indication, retail and ecommerce will continue to dynamically shift to suit the desires of an increasingly customer-driven landscape. We predict that new media, the Internet of Things, and cybersecurity will all play a pivotal role in the new year. Here are our ecommerce predictions for 2017:
The marriage of content and commerce will continue to proliferate.
In late 2016, The New York Times acquired product recommendation sites The Wirecutter and The Sweethome, moving more directly into lifestyle journalism and native commerce. Additionally, Buzzfeed launched their new online store, a part of a larger ecommerce strategy involving ways to monetize the site’s editorial content.
The influx of product recommendations weaving into content will only grow over the next twelve months, as publishers look for ways to diversify revenue streams. With Instagram offering in-app purchases to a select number of users in 2017, it’s clear that content platforms will be permeating the ecommerce space in a big way this year.
Brick-and-mortar stores are transforming into experiential activations.
Retail locations are fast becoming a public space for not only entertainment, but also the experience— kind of like a movie theater. Last year, Casper opened up a suite of physical stores for potential customers to give mattresses a test-run before committing to buy. Purchases, however, were still only available via online checkout. The same model has been applied again and again by major online-only brands such as Bonobos and Warby Parker.
In December 2016, online mega-merchant Amazon started testing out Amazon Go, a brick-and-mortar grocery store without a checkout line that operates on machine learning, sensors, and AI. Clearly, we’ve gone full circle here.
Conversational commerce and artificial intelligence will continue to grow.
Chatbots, as well as personal assistants such as Alexa, made big headlines in 2016. In 2017, AI will become even more sophisticated, and bots will be capable of performing an even wider variety of tasks, like combing through eBay listings to find the exact item you need.
Facebook has enabled users to be able to browse and buy products directly from their favorite shops via commerce platform integrations within Facebook Messenger. The concept of people shopping directly from their favorite brands while they chat, snap, pin, or 'gram is only going to increase as social platforms, commerce platforms, and payments become more flexible and open.
An explosive growth in microservices will mitigate deployment headaches associated with launching a major retail site.
With the advent of container management systems like Kubernetes, deployment services like Docker, and database management tools like MongoDB, developer operations will be less costly and time-consuming, allowing retailers to focus on the customer.
Considering all the high-profile cyberattacks of 2016, an enhanced emphasis on cybersecurity will set the backdrop for the new year.
In an early 2016 audit by Google, 79 out of the top 100 sites on the web did not use https by default. This will surely change in the new year. For instance, Tumblr switched their default to https in late 2016; other major platforms are sure to follow suit.
The Internet of Things will continue to grow, and with that growth comes new vulnerabilities. Transactions made and data transferred via mobile, through wearables, and on appliances often lack the up-to-date security features of a desktop computer. In 2017, we’ll see a greater focus on a more secure, universal code across all devices.