In 2015, e-commerce trend growth will continue to slow in mature markets, but businesses who can give amazing service and usability will continue to get amazing results (like John Lewis in UK), while those who lag behind on the usability front will be increasingly exposed. There is no hiding place for a poor e-shopping experience in 2015.
In other news, the youthful, high-growth e-commerce market will be the most volatile, exciting and surprising part of the e-commerce world in 2015. These markets, mainly in so-called “developing world” geographies, are not evolving along the exact same trajectory as established markets like US, Germany, Australia – they are taking an increasingly unique path of their own. Opportunities will abound, but outside entrants to these markets should not expect a “copy-paste approach to be sufficient – localization is critical.
Here are my Top 6 E-commerce Trends to Watch in 2015.
Three trends in mature markets:
- The shift to marketplace selling. Amazon’s latest numbers show that their third-party sales volumes grew by a stunning 100 percent in 2014 and now account for 40% of total e-commerce turnover. Clearly, the marketplace segment is where the big growth story is happening right now. For smaller sellers and manufacturers, Amazon’s marketplace is a boon, and does a phenomenal job connecting them with a vast pool of consumers. For larger brands and retailers who chose not to sell via this channel, 2015 is crunch time: do they want stay away from the marketplace party (and miss out on all that juicy growth…), or do they jump in – and sacrifice some of their margins and exclusivity?
- Human / Digital convergence. It’s been on the cards for a while, but 2015 should see a normalization of connected portable devices being used by Sales Associates. By getting access to rich product and personal data, real-time inventory, and sophisticated order management tools, they will be able to deliver a turbo-charged customer service experience. Not everyone will get it right however. Nailing this competence in 2015 requires more than just dishing out iPads to the sales and store teams. High-quality data feeds, efficient user interfaces, and proper staff training and change management are all vital too.
- Execution is everything. As I have written before, the days of easy e-commerce growth are over. Retailers and businesses are all now converging on same idea: to build an omni-channel service, powered by an enterprise grade software suite. To emerge as a winner will require differentiation, and that will come from awesome execution: not only by picking the right software tools for the job, but also by having a bold and intelligent vision to change their business fundamentals, and the strong, sustained leadership needed to see it through.
And three trends for high-growth markets:
- Mobile, mobile, mobile. The importance of mobile internet in high growth markets like India, Indonesia and Thailand, cannot be overstated. As the masses come online in 2015, desktop interface will be a mere niche, while handheld tablet and mobile UIs will dominate. For e-commerce service providers, efficient mobile page design must be the overriding priority, and they will need to balance low page weights and fast load times against the need to deliver rich and relevant content to information-hungry users on the move.
- Marketplace first. The example of TMall / TaoBao in China will be highly relevant to other high-growth regions. E-Marketplaces – albeit with locally bespoke features – to look set to become the dominant seller-to-buyer e-business channel in Latin America, South Asia and the Middle East & Africa. Expect incumbent marketplaces (like MercadoLibre in LatAm, and Snapdeal in India, and Souq in the Middle East) to be joined by a pack of ambitious competitors in 2015, both local and global. For foreign brands and businesses, marketplaces remain the smart way to get a local foothold.
- Go-it-alone fulfilment. Two major challenges for e-commerce in emerging markets are unreliable delivery and fulfillment. In markets where this is particularly acute – such as Russia and India – we can expect further significant investment from e-commerce businesses building out their own supply-chain and last-mile fulfilment networks. An expensive bet, but one that will surely pay off handsomely for the winner.
Here’s to an exciting year in the world of e-commerce!