A recent Forrester report predicts that online retail sales will exceed $370 billion by 2017. Accompanied by growing innovation in the mobile and social space, eCommerce brands have a lot to deal with in 2014.
Similar to every industry that relies on the Internet, retail brands are constantly combating the rise of disruptive technologies. eCommerce giants like Ebay and Amazon altered the entire retail landscape. In 2014, social media and mobile devices are driving even greater change in the way that customers shop online.
From the ‘Pinterization’ of web design to the rising tide of mobile customers shopping online and in-store, eCommerce is set for some interesting developments in 2014.
1. Social Media Influences Web Design
Pinterest and Instagram have had a tremendous impact on the way brands design their eCommerce websites. Large product images, infinite scrolling, and social trending are features that originated with social media. As software development techniques advance to build better apps and websites, expect some new trends this year.
As 2014 progresses, aspects and functions of social media networks will begin to appear more and more on eCommerce websites. Even Amazon has taken a cue from Pinterest with the introduction of ‘Amazon Collections’ (a similar feature to Pinterest boards).
2. Touch Friendly Interfaces for Tablets
Over 30% of tablet owners use the device as a go-to option for shopping online. In the past two years alone tablet ownership has increased by 282%.
When it comes to eCommerce development for 2014, tablet applications will be a priority for brands. Creating interfaces that are touch-friendly with appropriate finger-friendly layouts, will drive mobile transactions.
3. Immersive and Interactive Galleries
High quality zooming to inspect a product in detail and high quality videos describing an item will be common place in 2014. With progression in pixilation and screen resolution, shoppers are expecting interactive media experience online.
In the same way that Pinterest has placed a renewed emphasis on product images, the gallery setup and interactive features are also set to improve.
4. Expanding Borders
On Singles Day, the Chinese equivalent to Cyber Monday, shoppers purchased $5.7 billion in transactions from the Alibaba Group alone in a 24 hour period. Compare that to the $1.7 billion from Cyber Monday. In 2014, American brands will increase the targeting of eCommerce on a global scale.
5. Prevalence of Content Marketing
Social shopping platform Wanelo, which boasts more than 28 million visits a month, recently introduced a content marketing initiative. eCommerce stores and independent sellers alike can create ‘Stories’that detail the production, history and production of a product.
Similar to a short form blog post, content marketing that accompanies eCommerce products will rise in 2014. The trend will not be limited to the written word. Trending videos and even specified mobile apps will enhance the brand experience for shoppers.
6. Subscription Models Are on the Rise
Fancy, a socially curated eCommerce website, offers a service where shoppers pay $40 a month to receive a celebrity curated package of products. Despite significant commentary questioning the subscription model for multiple businesses, it is growing in prevalence.
The model is even becoming a successful approach for small and medium sized businesses. LoveWithFood is an organic grocer that delivers all-natural snacks to customers for $10 a month. In 2014, expect a resurgence of subscription models in the eCommerce industry.
7. Shopping via Social Discovery
Social media and eCommerce have combined to produce several innovative websites and brands. Wanelo, Fancy and Polyvore are socially driven eCommerce experiences where users discover a crowd-curated list of trending products. Heavy design inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram can be seen in the web development and design approaches used for creating the site.
As soon as a shopper arrives at the website, they are treated to a newsfeed of product suggestions. The more the shopper browses and likes different products, the more personalized the product-feed. In 2014, expect socially driven curation of products throughout the eCommerce space.