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Hiya everyone, we've got more 2016 predictions for you, this time in all-new ecommerce flavour.

Thanks go to our topic experts - a shoe-seller, an adult-toy-purveyor, and a consultant and #ecomchatter respectively.

If you want to try our other flavours, we've done SEO, contentprogrammatic advertising and UX.

Smartphone revenue to overtake desktop

Stuart McMillan, deputy head of ecommerce at Schuh

There have been many “year of mobile” predictions, but I think that in 2016 more companies will see revenue from smartphone overtaking revenue from desktop.

I think we’ll see that on the Schuh site in April, which will mark two years since we saw smartphone traffic overtake desktop traffic. Tablet traffic and revenue will continue to stagnate.

While many companies have been investing in mobile user experiences, which will hopefully have been good for their conversion rate, I think in the past year we have seen a greater confidence in consumers shopping on mobile.

I think this will continue in 2016, so I would expect to see some background improvements in mobile conversion rates, over and above those produced by any CRO activity.

Schuh site traffic

schuh site traffic

Prioritisation of visitors, not visits

Stuart McMillan

On a related note [to smartphone revenue], I think we’ll see more traction in visitor based metrics (as opposed to visit based), where conversion of a visitor in to a customer will be the goal irrespective of the number of sessions/devices that it takes to convert them.

Taking a long hard look at third-party solutions

Matt Curry, head of ecommerce at Lovehoney

I would expect more UK ecommerce companies to look at their solutions portfolio, and start to rationalise to see which third parties actually drive value.

As everyone pushes to be more profitable in a hard climate, they'll be taking a good hard look at areas such as personalisation, loyalty, social and community, to see where they can get more value at a cheaper total cost of ownership (TCO). 

Reducing reliance on Google?

James Gurd, owner of Digital Juggler and co-host of #ecomchat 

Google continued to make it hard to get free search traffic in 2015. There are more and more examples of SERPs where you struggle to see a genuine organic listing in the visible pane.

For example, the local three-pack update now means that for most useful ecommerce searches, the mobile results page is dominated visually by paid ads and users will have to scroll further for organic links.

Google talks a good game for how important SEO is but in reality, they’ve built an audience of addicts and are now milking brands’ reliance upon them for traffic.

This is having an impact on marketing teams thinking for long term acquisition and retention, looking at how they can build their audience outside the Google universe and reduce reliance on these clicks.

local search for plumber

Investment in content-rich experiences

Matt Curry

Retailers competing in crowded markets will be looking to differentiate though data.

It's no longer good enough to say "we sell a product and here's a photo of it." Customers want detailed descriptions, context relevant specifics, social proof, super-rich experiences.

Expect online retailers to be expanding content teams, investing in video, and hiring category specialists.

Delivery will be quicker and more flexible

Matt Curry

With Amazon Prime Now launching in the UK, and same-day delivery services being more frequently offered, I expect more retailers will understand that "I want this and I want it now" is a common mind-set in online shopping.

2016 will bring same-day delivery (certainly same-day dispatch!), delivery within an hour, hopefully some bricks & mortar retailers opening up their logistics infrastructure in the same manner as Fulfilment by Amazon works.

Click & collect will be same day, immediately, where available. 

James Gurd

I think the only way now to differentiate is to offer real-time delivery to someone wherever they are, perhaps by drone whilst they’re walking through the park.

Joking aside, delivery is a hugely competitive area for ecommerce and the likes of Amazon Prime Now and Argos delivery to store within 60 seconds simply blow most propositions out the water.

The smart brands with the logistics power are being creative and effectively turning delivery into a marketing promotion instead of policy.

Amazon Prime is the perfect example; other retailers like ASOS have an offering but Amazon is miles ahead with a product roadmap for Prime that brings in other products like video.

Prime delivery

UX teams become CX teams

James Gurd

I think we'll see a continued increase in the number of companies who build out CX teams rather than just UX to cover core digital design.

The customer experience is wider than UX and involves complimentary skills such as customer insight and qual/quant research. This needs someone with a strategic vision and understanding of customer insight and data-driven decision making.

I’m already seeing this in some of the larger retailers and expect this to extend.

CRO capability to increase in-house

Stuart McMillan

...I expect there to be an increasing desire to embed greater CRO capabilities in ecommerce teams, although I also expect that demand for skills will exceed supply.

If you have solid experience in the areas of consumer psychology, digital analytics, statistics and UX/CX/IxD then you are going to be in demand.

Mobile payment and loyalty to follow Starbucks

James Gurd

Payment will increasingly become focused on mobile payment methods, as mobile traffic pushes past the 50% mark and the technical capabilities improve.

The mobile wallet is primed for mass acceptance, it just needs a bit more clever thinking around integrating loyalty and rewards as Starbucks has done so successfully.

I expect to see greater use of mobile payment tech in 2016 and smarter uses of tech to target people with offers e.g. using beacons to surface geo-targeted offers via apps, use of native device wallet functions to store coupons and loyalty cards.

starbucks order and pay

Black Friday may wobble

Matt Curry

2015 was an acid test for Black Friday in the UK, and online trading teams will still be looking at the effect of it on Christmas sales.

Is Black Friday going to be more an online phenomenon in the UK going forward? It is just grabbing short-term market share?

Are we going to be looking at our targets next year with gritted teeth, knowing that we have to do it all again, or are UK retailers going to eschew it entirely, as it depresses sales in December? 

UK retailers to go after China' Single's Day

Matt Curry

Speaking of which, I think we'll see more UK retailers attempting to crack the China market in 2016.

Single's Day alone is a very big pie to grab a slice of, and if you can crack positioning, fulfilment, protect trademarks and market effectively, it looks irresistible.

Brand social over owned media?

James Gurd

In 2015, Nestle announced it had consolidated its web presence for Nescafe brand and moved the main site over to the Tumblr platform.

It was a bold statement about the relationship between brand-owned websites and the way social content consumption and brand engagement is changing how marketers approach digital.

This puts a stake in the ground – if successful, could it tempt other consumer brands with a strong social audience to eschew the standard own-built web platform for a more flexible social platform that comes with inbuilt mobile and search optimisation?

Ben Davis

Published 15 December, 2015 by Ben Davis @ Econsultancy

Ben Davis is Deputy Editor at Econsultancy. He lives in Manchester, England. You can contact him at ben.davis@econsultancy.com, follow at @herrhuld or connect via LinkedIn.

1017 more posts from this author

Comments (3)

Avatar-blank-50x50

Philip Oakley, Web Optimisation at MaxymiserEnterprise

Possibly the best blog I've read this year.

Definitely agree about the I house desire and subsequent skills shortage for cxo/Cro. We've seen this all year. Our face to face training numbers have gone through the roof and lots of clients have asked for support in hiring the right skill set.

Testing has also evolved for many as a way of optimising their marketing investment across the board...video, chat, recommendations etc. and how they can be applied more effectively to different audiences

I was a doubter for same day delivery to begin with but using Amazon prime for a huge chunk of Christmas shopping (on my smartphone, on the train home last Friday), and it arriving Saturday I'm completely converted to its importance. I rarely shop with Amazon but it's convenience secured 90% of my Christmas spend this year.

over 1 year ago

James Gurd

James Gurd, Owner at Digital JugglerSmall Business Multi-user

Hi Phil
Yes i think sameday will soon be the expected norm - some retailers have led the way, like Schuh with sameday buy and collect. Innovation has simply upped the challenge for other retailers as consumers think 'if they can do it, why can't you'.
I think convenience, and price, is why Amazon mop up so much spend - i try my best to avoid Amazon but recently i needed something for my daughter, elsewhere was up to 4 weeks lead time, Amazon had it within 2 days and for best price.
thanks
james

over 1 year ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Philip Oakley, Web Optimisation at MaxymiserEnterprise

Hi James,

I'm exactly the same with Amazon, I will go to great lengths to avoid them. I was gifted Prime so thought I would take a look. The price and convenience meant I ordered about 10-15 items - jewellery, toys, dvds, towels etc. In the space of 30 mins I'd ticked off my Christmas shopping and a few "I keep forgetting to buy that" items. Retailers are under severe pressure to compete as this delivery becomes the norm....and subconciously people forget that they are paying £80 per year for it and will percieve it as free at the time of pruchase.

Thanks,
Phil

over 1 year ago

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