The future of the internet is devastatingly bright. So bright, in fact, you probably shouldn’t look at it without one of those pinhole cameras you use to watch an eclipse.
Luckily for you, however, we braved the glare and took a long, hard, look at the future of the internet and what it might mean for ecommerce.
We focussed our divinations around 2020, a short 5 years from now, and used a combination of industry trends and our wild imaginations to predict what’s in store. Take a look and see what you think – we’d love to hear your opinions.
More Mobile Devices
You’re probably sick of being told that your site needs to be responsive, but with mobile internet usage continually increasing (the number of people set to be accessing the internet by 2020 is 7.6 billion, more than the current world population) then it’s likely that the next big push will be for online retailers to develop ecommerce apps.
We’re not just peering at tea leaves here; eMarketer has also predicted that by 2017, 25% of online transactions will take place on a mobile device. Already in the US, consumers spend about 15 hours a week researching products on mobile devices, and about 93% of shoppers that research a product from a mobile device will ultimately make a purchase.
ecommerce then, is quickly developing into mCommerce, so it makes sense that online retailers will benefit significantly from having free apps that their customers can download and use to browse and buy things directly.
Plenty of ecommerce giants have already invested in apps (ASOS, Net a Porter and Etsy all have decent offerings) and they’ve been well received by their loyal customers. The ASOS app’s four and a half star rating in iTunes and Google play certainly confirms that it’s pretty popular.
Obviously the onus here has to be on quality – hastily developed apps with poor functionality aren’t going to cut it, so take your time and do your research before ploughing your hard-earned money into mobile.
The Internet of Things
According to Gartner, by 2020, there will be 25 billion ‘things’ connected to the internet. From your phone to your coffee machine, your fridge to your pacemaker (seriously) the potential is there for all of these devices to be connected not only to the internet, but to each other.
Whilst you’ve probably heard about this Internet of Things (IoT), you might not have thought about what this means for ecommerce. This increased connection between people, products, businesses and their data is going to help those in ecommerce work smarter.
Products, services and the way in which they’re delivered to customers will improve exponentially, with relevance being the key. In all likelihood, retailers will be able to target customers with specific products, information and offers ever so slightly before the consumer has even realised they need or want them.
Think about it. Your customer bought sport shoes from you six months ago, and thanks to the social media updates the on-board pedometer has been posting, you know exactly how far they’ve run in them, as well as the next big race they’re training for. This information could help you send a micro-targeted email, letting them know exactly how far they’ve run in your shoes, and that to run at their best, they need to buy a new pair. You could also encourage them by telling them that if they want to break their new shoes in before said race, then they might want to use the time-limited offer you’ve sent them as a sweetener.
All of this data flying around the ether is going to have a big effect on your inventory, too. By analysing and correlating data across thousands of channels (social media comments on trending fashions, for example) businesses should be able to anticipate the level of stock required in particular locations. In effect, this offers consumers more of what they want, less of what they don’t, increasing revenue and limiting price reductions.
The Ageing Population Gets Online
Population ageing is seen as one of the greatest challenges facing contemporary society because of its many social economic and political implications, says a report released by Parliament in 2011. In fact, by 2020, the world will have 13 ‘super-aged’ societies (where more than one in five of the population is aged 65 or older) according to a report from rating agency Moody’s.
However, far from causing challenges for those in ecommerce, we predict that this change in population will bring a multitude of opportunities for online retailers.
It makes sense. As the ageing population grows, so does its spending power, and this segment of the market is largely untapped. So much so, that Neilsen’s Global Survey on Ageing found that ‘more than half of global consumers surveyed say they do not see advertising that reflects older consumers’.
But this doesn’t mean that you should ditch whatever you’re currently selling and branch into walking aids and Werther’s Originals. Those categorised as ‘older people’ could span an age group that stretches from 65 to 100 and above, so the range of knowledge, ability and life-experience in this group will vary extensively. Their characteristics are as diverse as those of the wider population.
A review written for the Nominet Trust states that there is an evidence base, supported by demographic data, which suggests that there is a business case for developing more specific age-related technology-based products and services. The promotion of technology for use by older people is an emerging area, and thanks to our crystal-ball, your business could get in on this one at the ground floor.
In other words, ecommerce stores should look to be inclusive of the aged population. Think supporting older people to live more independently and continue to enjoy a high quality of life. A noble and profitable venture if we do say so ourselves.
Surprise surprise, faster internet speeds also spells growth for ecommerce. As long as businesses can keep up.
As access to low-cost, super-fast internet continues to grow, consumers will increasingly rely on the internet for their everyday needs, and, as high-speed connections become more common, it’ll certainly be easier to buy.
Conversely, it’ll be easier to sell, too. As the cost of developing and maintaining sites has plummeted, it’s now quick, easy and cheap to set-up sophisticated ecommerce stores. Basically, competition will grow, and your business needs to sharpen its claws. Thankfully, super-fast internet should help you up your game.
We already know that 67% of consumers rate image quality as “very important” when deciding to purchase, and faster internet means you can stuff your site with high-quality images.
What about videos? They also have a huge impact on online sales. While statistics on this are varied, they suggest that consumers who view product videos online are between 65% and 85% more likely to buy than those who don’t. Fast internet will certainly allow you to ramp-up your use of HD videos (and this could help you get to page one on Google, too).
Finally, but by no means least importantly, faster internet will make it a lot easier to run your ecommerce store. It’ll take less time to perform all of your routine tasks like entering and updating products.
So that’s our predictions, and if you’re inclined to agree with any of them then (hell, even if you’re not) then we want to help you future-proof your ecommerce offering.
We can help you use API and app technology to create better user experiences, overcome your challenges, drive sales and simplify the way you manage your business.
Drop us a line, give us a call, or make full use of our psychic powers and send us a message telepathically if you like. However you do it, we’re looking forward to hearing from you.