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eCommerce Marketing Trends and Predictions in 2015

Posted on 22nd January 2015 , by Kunle Campbell in Strategy

2014 saw online retail sales grow by 20% across the globea 17% rise in the U.S and an equally impressive 14% growth in the UK (with £104 billion spent online in UK).

Bricks-and-mortar retail saw more integration with both digital and mobile.  A purely digital currency, Bitcoin, took a significant hit in value, which may be an indication of its maturity.

And eCommerce marketers matched their channel-agnostic, experience-oriented consumers by focusing on Omnichannel sales, marketing and logistics.

While 2014 saw a lot of new beginnings, where are those threads going to lead in 2015?

1: Channel-agnostic consumers require omni channel marketing

Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]
Reports of the demise of the sales funnel may have been proverbially overstated, but it’s certainly true that customers no longer travel down one smoothly. And customers now expect to be able to move seamlessly between channels and devices. They research prices and products on smartphones in-store, try things on and then order online from tablet and laptop computers at home. The identity of the channel doesn’t matter at all to an increasing number of consumers, but the identity of the brand. That, and the overall customer experience, will define success for a growing number of retailers in 2015.

 

2: Big phones mean mobile traffic that converts

PhabletTrafficbyModel-ChitikaInsightsMobile traffic has been on the increase since the advent of the smartphone, but while these remained phones with added functionality, conversions remained low. The current generation of ‘phones’ are so large and multifunctional that they’re only questionably still phones anyway, and the way consumers use them to interact with ecommerce sites has evolved in lockstep with the technology itself. With their ability to undercut Apple products on price, Samsung have the lion’s share of the ‘phablet’ market, but these devices  doubled their share of mobile traffic in the six months to November 2014. Traffic on a different device? Not very channel-agnostic. But users of phablets behave more like users of tablets, less like traditional smartphone users, so it’s a distinction with a very real difference. Average order value on a phablet was $115.86 in the third quarter of 2014, as against $121.30 for tablets – and $100.27 for smartphones. And conversions were up 6% for phablets compared to smartphones too. 2015 will be the year phablets get huge – in both senses.

3: Deeper integration of Beacons & iBeacons with mobile

iBeacon
iBeacons are Apple’s branded take on Bluetooth beacons, but it’s become an umbrella term for the whole product type. An iBeacon transmits packets of data to mobile devices within range via Bluetooth, so it’s very local. That’s its appeal. It speaks to an app on the device and orders it to carry out tasks. iBeacons allow stores to track customers to within a few feet in the store, and works through thick walls, unlike current GPS tech which is stymied by large structures – like stores. This means customers can be digitally tracked and marketed to in a microlocal way – marketing messages about jeans can be sent to customers shopping in the jeans aisle, for instance. The kind of technique we’re used to seeing in ecommerce stores, where you’re offered upsells, cross-sells and ‘you might also likes,’ are set to become commonplace in bricks and mortar stores in 2015. What’s more unexpected is the ability to pay via iBeacons, or for stores to use iBeacons to let customers research specific, in-stock products and then dynamically guide them through the store to that product’s location. It’s even possible to use iBeacons to find staff in the store, or to find out detailed information about a product on your device, just by standing next to it. All these technologies are already in place, but in 2015 they’ll become more widespread and achieve ubiquity.

4: Retargeting: Audience Building is the New Listing Building

facebook audiences

Retargeted display advertising really took off in 2014. Starting with Google; remarketing lists can now be created directly from traffic data in Google Analytics, and then shared with Google’s other advertising platforms: AdWords, AdMob and DoubleClick Campaign manager for targeting. Google Analytics also started directly supporting the dynamic remarketing list format for eCommerce stores looking to retarget product specific adverts to visitors that have already viewed products in their stores.

Whilst Facebook has ‘Custom & Lookalike Audiences’, Google followed suit by introducing “Smart Lists”.

Why are they all focusing on retargeting?

It enables eCommerce advertisers ‘seed’ a list from existing website traffic, so this isn’t interest marketing but highly targeted marketing.

What is the outlook in 2015?

I expect Facebook to close the gap by releasing a dynamic remarketing solution specifically for e-tailers.

With the aid of deep machine learning and big data, Lookalike Audiences (Facebook) and Smart Lists (Google) will continue to become more accurate in targeting.

Adoption by marketers should take off in 2015 as it offers an opportunity to create, not just an audience list, but a whole demographic – one that you know is tailored for your business because it is generated from prior engagement with you brand.

5: Holistic Cross Device Tracking

Omni-channel Interaction

Tracking customers across devices will become even more vital as customers continue to be ever more device and channel agnostic. Without some means of doing this our picture of customer behavior will become distorted.

If a user visits your website on three different devices they’ll get classed as three different users, which is bad enough – but even worse, if that same user uses the same device but deletes their cookies, or uses a different browser, they’ll get recorded as more than one user then too. The result is a set of figures about which only one thing can be said with certainty: they’re wrong. But how far out they are is impossible to say.

Increasingly, the solution has been to track usernames or ‘identities’ (ids) rather than devices. After all, it’s the customer you’re interested in, not their device. At the same time, once you’ve instituted a method for doing this, you can cross-check customers against devices and see, for instance, what time of day your professional 30-40 year old female audience is likely to buy on a smartphone and what time of day they’d rather use a tablet or laptop, allowing you to ‘channel-optimise’ your user experience for your customers. It will make a lot of sense if Facebook releases its version of Google Analytics as it is arguably rivals Google’s ‘active user’ database from Gmail/Google Services and Android sign ups.

6: Email Marketing is Here to Stay…on smaller screens

email

Email marketing will survive this year, too. But it faces pressure from an increasingly mobile web: an actual majority of Magneto website visitors in 2014 were from mobile devices, and email, not Facebook or browsing, is the top activity on smartphones. So what does a mobile web mean for marketing emails in 2015?

We can expect to see more pressure on subject lines and preheaders or snippet text as decisions on whether to open or not are made faster and on smaller screens. Calls to action will need to be big and obvious. All this is a refinement of the already-extant rules of good email marketing, and those will remain in place for the 49% of web users who are accessing online content from laptops and desktops too. Email might have to adapt slightly, but there’s no doubt it’s going to remain a big hitter for marketers in 2015.

7: More Marketplaces: Alibaba, Jet.com and Rakuten

jet - next generation e-commerce marketplace

2015 will see a proliferation of large online marketplaces. These buck the trend of light, concept-forward tech or online innovations that generate buzz but fail to make a profit. The leading examples have spent 2014 quietly excelling in solidly traditional business terms. Alibaba saw a 50% surge in stock price and sold $8bn of stock – and could have sold far more, to judge by how oversubscribed the sale was. Figure in a $25bn IPO and you’re looking at an ecommerce behemoth. It’s also one that hasn’t even really begun to tap into its Chinese outlets, TaoBao and Tmall.

amazon, rakuten, jet.com, alibaba, aliexpress, ebay

Jet.com will be a hybrid marketplace that also warehouses and its USP will be low cost, leading some commentators to suggest that it’s out to ‘do to Amazon what Costco did to Walmart’ – but it wasn’t Costco that did for Walmart. It was ecommerce marketplaces. With more marketplaces comes more opportunity for traders to sell through multiple channels without, or in addition to, a dedicated website or microsite, and that’s likely to be another major 2015 trend.

8: Direct to Consumer (D2C) commerce

warby-parker

Vertical supply chains will be an increasingly common feature of 2015’s ecommerce scene. It’s a continuation of ecommerce in general, with its disruptive ability to take control of transactions and put it in customers’ hands (literally, in the case of mobile tech). The key to D2C sales is removing middlemen from the supply chain and thus from the value addition process – ‘if they aren’t there, they don’t need to be paid’.

D2C commerce carries products from manufacturers to consumers without collecting them in stores, warehousing them in third party sites or operating with the real estate and running costs of stores, so they can offer significantly lower prices. At the moment, the major beneficiaries of this have been people interested in getting high quality luxury or personal goods, like sunglasses, without paying inflated designer prices. But this business model is likely to spread, sometimes in tandem with the expanding market share of online marketplaces, in 2015.

9: Indian eCommerce is Big; China is Even Bigger

china-ecommerce-11

The volume of sales accounted for by India and China, respectively the world’s largest national population and its largest national economy, is huge. Indian ecommerce revenue was $3.5bn in 2014, and is forecast to reach $6bn in 2015. In China, major ecommerce players are teaming up to create delivery infrastructure, at a cost of over $16bn – but with projected 2014 ecommerce revenue of nearly $450bn, they can afford it.

state-of-ecommerce.png

In both these markets, the figures are impressive, but the figures we have now tell less than half the story. China’s government has decided to allow foreign ecommerce concerns to operate inside its borders, and India’s demand for ecommerce will likely mushroom as its economy grows.

Finally, though: in both countries, internet use is at barely 50% of the population. What will the ecommerce economy look like in a China with a purpose-built delivery infrastructure and smartphone use running near the USA’s 60+%? 2015 might be the year we start to find out.

10: Could Wearables Link Between eCommerce and the Physical World?

Wearable tech has loitered on the ‘any day now’ fringes for several years, sharing space with electric cars and other clearly excellent ideas that just weren’t quite making the leap from concept to product. In 2014 it became obvious that wearable tech could both do things you might actually want done – especially true in the fitness space – and be something you might actually want to wear. But what are its implications for ecommerce?

Apple Watch with Apple Pay

For one, we can expect wearables to bridge the gap between ecommerce and the physical world, for example by technology like Apple’s iWatch, which brings the promise of constant, immersive passive internet access. For ecommerce this means greater access to consumers, but also the capacity interact online with customers who are physically in or near to a store. As wearables take off in 2015 we can expect to see their capacity to deliver unprecedented consumer access capitalized on by ecommerce marketers.

11: Crytocurrency: BitCoin eCommerce

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency - BTC keychain

BitCoin started life as a ‘what-if that looked like, it wouldn’t ever catch on’. But from its humble beginnings when it traded $13/BitCoin to its peak of $1,242 /BitCoin (in December 2013) and to a now deep steep to $230/BitCoin, we might be seeing maturity.

An increasing number of mainstream e-tailers are accepting the purely online currency; 2014 saw a 3.3-fold increase in VC investments in BitCoin tech and retail startups from $93.8m in 2013 to $314.7m  in 2014.

purse-io

Purse.io is one such start up that enables purchases on Amazon.com with bitcoin.

For ecommerce, BitCoin carries several major advantages, which all really boil down to the fact that it’s a digital currency, not a digitized currency.

Credit cards are notorious for not only their 2-3% transaction charges but also open to theft at every step and if it isn’t the consumer who gets stung it’s the retailer, so both parties have an interest in an alternative payment system. BitCoin is as secure as cash in that it’s effectively unhackable, but as convenient as PayPal in that you can simply buy something online on the other side of the world with a few clicks.

The caveat is that the currency is volatile at the moment but settling down as its adoption rate grows and major retailers have begun accepting it.

It’s likely to play an increasing role in ecommerce in 2015 and the tipping point will come when a player like Amazon decides to accept it.

About the author:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

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eCommerce Marketing Trends and Predictions in 2015

Posted on 22nd January 2015 , by Kunle Campbell in Strategy

2014 saw online retail sales grow by 20% across the globea 17% rise in the U.S and an equally impressive 14% growth in the UK (with £104 billion spent online in UK).

Bricks-and-mortar retail saw more integration with both digital and mobile.  A purely digital currency, Bitcoin, took a significant hit in value, which may be an indication of its maturity.

And eCommerce marketers matched their channel-agnostic, experience-oriented consumers by focusing on Omnichannel sales, marketing and logistics.

While 2014 saw a lot of new beginnings, where are those threads going to lead in 2015?

1: Channel-agnostic consumers require omni channel marketing

Differences between omnichannel and multichannel [via SmartInsights.com]
Reports of the demise of the sales funnel may have been proverbially overstated, but it’s certainly true that customers no longer travel down one smoothly. And customers now expect to be able to move seamlessly between channels and devices. They research prices and products on smartphones in-store, try things on and then order online from tablet and laptop computers at home. The identity of the channel doesn’t matter at all to an increasing number of consumers, but the identity of the brand. That, and the overall customer experience, will define success for a growing number of retailers in 2015.

 

2: Big phones mean mobile traffic that converts

PhabletTrafficbyModel-ChitikaInsightsMobile traffic has been on the increase since the advent of the smartphone, but while these remained phones with added functionality, conversions remained low. The current generation of ‘phones’ are so large and multifunctional that they’re only questionably still phones anyway, and the way consumers use them to interact with ecommerce sites has evolved in lockstep with the technology itself. With their ability to undercut Apple products on price, Samsung have the lion’s share of the ‘phablet’ market, but these devices  doubled their share of mobile traffic in the six months to November 2014. Traffic on a different device? Not very channel-agnostic. But users of phablets behave more like users of tablets, less like traditional smartphone users, so it’s a distinction with a very real difference. Average order value on a phablet was $115.86 in the third quarter of 2014, as against $121.30 for tablets – and $100.27 for smartphones. And conversions were up 6% for phablets compared to smartphones too. 2015 will be the year phablets get huge – in both senses.

3: Deeper integration of Beacons & iBeacons with mobile

iBeacon
iBeacons are Apple’s branded take on Bluetooth beacons, but it’s become an umbrella term for the whole product type. An iBeacon transmits packets of data to mobile devices within range via Bluetooth, so it’s very local. That’s its appeal. It speaks to an app on the device and orders it to carry out tasks. iBeacons allow stores to track customers to within a few feet in the store, and works through thick walls, unlike current GPS tech which is stymied by large structures – like stores. This means customers can be digitally tracked and marketed to in a microlocal way – marketing messages about jeans can be sent to customers shopping in the jeans aisle, for instance. The kind of technique we’re used to seeing in ecommerce stores, where you’re offered upsells, cross-sells and ‘you might also likes,’ are set to become commonplace in bricks and mortar stores in 2015. What’s more unexpected is the ability to pay via iBeacons, or for stores to use iBeacons to let customers research specific, in-stock products and then dynamically guide them through the store to that product’s location. It’s even possible to use iBeacons to find staff in the store, or to find out detailed information about a product on your device, just by standing next to it. All these technologies are already in place, but in 2015 they’ll become more widespread and achieve ubiquity.

4: Retargeting: Audience Building is the New Listing Building

facebook audiences

Retargeted display advertising really took off in 2014. Starting with Google; remarketing lists can now be created directly from traffic data in Google Analytics, and then shared with Google’s other advertising platforms: AdWords, AdMob and DoubleClick Campaign manager for targeting. Google Analytics also started directly supporting the dynamic remarketing list format for eCommerce stores looking to retarget product specific adverts to visitors that have already viewed products in their stores.

Whilst Facebook has ‘Custom & Lookalike Audiences’, Google followed suit by introducing “Smart Lists”.

Why are they all focusing on retargeting?

It enables eCommerce advertisers ‘seed’ a list from existing website traffic, so this isn’t interest marketing but highly targeted marketing.

What is the outlook in 2015?

I expect Facebook to close the gap by releasing a dynamic remarketing solution specifically for e-tailers.

With the aid of deep machine learning and big data, Lookalike Audiences (Facebook) and Smart Lists (Google) will continue to become more accurate in targeting.

Adoption by marketers should take off in 2015 as it offers an opportunity to create, not just an audience list, but a whole demographic – one that you know is tailored for your business because it is generated from prior engagement with you brand.

5: Holistic Cross Device Tracking

Omni-channel Interaction

Tracking customers across devices will become even more vital as customers continue to be ever more device and channel agnostic. Without some means of doing this our picture of customer behavior will become distorted.

If a user visits your website on three different devices they’ll get classed as three different users, which is bad enough – but even worse, if that same user uses the same device but deletes their cookies, or uses a different browser, they’ll get recorded as more than one user then too. The result is a set of figures about which only one thing can be said with certainty: they’re wrong. But how far out they are is impossible to say.

Increasingly, the solution has been to track usernames or ‘identities’ (ids) rather than devices. After all, it’s the customer you’re interested in, not their device. At the same time, once you’ve instituted a method for doing this, you can cross-check customers against devices and see, for instance, what time of day your professional 30-40 year old female audience is likely to buy on a smartphone and what time of day they’d rather use a tablet or laptop, allowing you to ‘channel-optimise’ your user experience for your customers. It will make a lot of sense if Facebook releases its version of Google Analytics as it is arguably rivals Google’s ‘active user’ database from Gmail/Google Services and Android sign ups.

6: Email Marketing is Here to Stay…on smaller screens

email

Email marketing will survive this year, too. But it faces pressure from an increasingly mobile web: an actual majority of Magneto website visitors in 2014 were from mobile devices, and email, not Facebook or browsing, is the top activity on smartphones. So what does a mobile web mean for marketing emails in 2015?

We can expect to see more pressure on subject lines and preheaders or snippet text as decisions on whether to open or not are made faster and on smaller screens. Calls to action will need to be big and obvious. All this is a refinement of the already-extant rules of good email marketing, and those will remain in place for the 49% of web users who are accessing online content from laptops and desktops too. Email might have to adapt slightly, but there’s no doubt it’s going to remain a big hitter for marketers in 2015.

7: More Marketplaces: Alibaba, Jet.com and Rakuten

jet - next generation e-commerce marketplace

2015 will see a proliferation of large online marketplaces. These buck the trend of light, concept-forward tech or online innovations that generate buzz but fail to make a profit. The leading examples have spent 2014 quietly excelling in solidly traditional business terms. Alibaba saw a 50% surge in stock price and sold $8bn of stock – and could have sold far more, to judge by how oversubscribed the sale was. Figure in a $25bn IPO and you’re looking at an ecommerce behemoth. It’s also one that hasn’t even really begun to tap into its Chinese outlets, TaoBao and Tmall.

amazon, rakuten, jet.com, alibaba, aliexpress, ebay

Jet.com will be a hybrid marketplace that also warehouses and its USP will be low cost, leading some commentators to suggest that it’s out to ‘do to Amazon what Costco did to Walmart’ – but it wasn’t Costco that did for Walmart. It was ecommerce marketplaces. With more marketplaces comes more opportunity for traders to sell through multiple channels without, or in addition to, a dedicated website or microsite, and that’s likely to be another major 2015 trend.

8: Direct to Consumer (D2C) commerce

warby-parker

Vertical supply chains will be an increasingly common feature of 2015’s ecommerce scene. It’s a continuation of ecommerce in general, with its disruptive ability to take control of transactions and put it in customers’ hands (literally, in the case of mobile tech). The key to D2C sales is removing middlemen from the supply chain and thus from the value addition process – ‘if they aren’t there, they don’t need to be paid’.

D2C commerce carries products from manufacturers to consumers without collecting them in stores, warehousing them in third party sites or operating with the real estate and running costs of stores, so they can offer significantly lower prices. At the moment, the major beneficiaries of this have been people interested in getting high quality luxury or personal goods, like sunglasses, without paying inflated designer prices. But this business model is likely to spread, sometimes in tandem with the expanding market share of online marketplaces, in 2015.

9: Indian eCommerce is Big; China is Even Bigger

china-ecommerce-11

The volume of sales accounted for by India and China, respectively the world’s largest national population and its largest national economy, is huge. Indian ecommerce revenue was $3.5bn in 2014, and is forecast to reach $6bn in 2015. In China, major ecommerce players are teaming up to create delivery infrastructure, at a cost of over $16bn – but with projected 2014 ecommerce revenue of nearly $450bn, they can afford it.

state-of-ecommerce.png

In both these markets, the figures are impressive, but the figures we have now tell less than half the story. China’s government has decided to allow foreign ecommerce concerns to operate inside its borders, and India’s demand for ecommerce will likely mushroom as its economy grows.

Finally, though: in both countries, internet use is at barely 50% of the population. What will the ecommerce economy look like in a China with a purpose-built delivery infrastructure and smartphone use running near the USA’s 60+%? 2015 might be the year we start to find out.

10: Could Wearables Link Between eCommerce and the Physical World?

Wearable tech has loitered on the ‘any day now’ fringes for several years, sharing space with electric cars and other clearly excellent ideas that just weren’t quite making the leap from concept to product. In 2014 it became obvious that wearable tech could both do things you might actually want done – especially true in the fitness space – and be something you might actually want to wear. But what are its implications for ecommerce?

Apple Watch with Apple Pay

For one, we can expect wearables to bridge the gap between ecommerce and the physical world, for example by technology like Apple’s iWatch, which brings the promise of constant, immersive passive internet access. For ecommerce this means greater access to consumers, but also the capacity interact online with customers who are physically in or near to a store. As wearables take off in 2015 we can expect to see their capacity to deliver unprecedented consumer access capitalized on by ecommerce marketers.

11: Crytocurrency: BitCoin eCommerce

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency - BTC keychain

BitCoin started life as a ‘what-if that looked like, it wouldn’t ever catch on’. But from its humble beginnings when it traded $13/BitCoin to its peak of $1,242 /BitCoin (in December 2013) and to a now deep steep to $230/BitCoin, we might be seeing maturity.

An increasing number of mainstream e-tailers are accepting the purely online currency; 2014 saw a 3.3-fold increase in VC investments in BitCoin tech and retail startups from $93.8m in 2013 to $314.7m  in 2014.

purse-io

Purse.io is one such start up that enables purchases on Amazon.com with bitcoin.

For ecommerce, BitCoin carries several major advantages, which all really boil down to the fact that it’s a digital currency, not a digitized currency.

Credit cards are notorious for not only their 2-3% transaction charges but also open to theft at every step and if it isn’t the consumer who gets stung it’s the retailer, so both parties have an interest in an alternative payment system. BitCoin is as secure as cash in that it’s effectively unhackable, but as convenient as PayPal in that you can simply buy something online on the other side of the world with a few clicks.

The caveat is that the currency is volatile at the moment but settling down as its adoption rate grows and major retailers have begun accepting it.

It’s likely to play an increasing role in ecommerce in 2015 and the tipping point will come when a player like Amazon decides to accept it.

About the author:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

Did You Enjoy Reading this Article?

Get Free Email Updates by Signing Up Below:

eCommerce Marketing Growth Hacks 

UPCOMING WEBINAR:
November 21st 4:30pm GMT / 11:30am EST
with Kunle
Campbell

Facebook Funnels for Ecommerce that CONVERT

Register now

2X eCommerce Podcast

Kunle interviews Founders of Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retail Business & E-commerce Marketing Experts

View podcasts

Download your free ebook

More

The eCommerce Marketing Blueprint