Where is eCommerce trending for 2014?
By: Tristan Anwyn
eCommerce is becoming a vital part of many businesses. Consumers appreciate the ability to browse and buy what they want on the go and out of hours, fitting shopping in with their busy lives.
The internet marketing experts at Emarketer estimate that by the end of 2013, eCommerce sales in the U.S. will generate $262.3 worth of sales, an impressive 16.4% higher than last year. 2014 promises to be an exciting year for eCommerce in the U.S.
With that in mind, it is time to take a look at some of the biggest trends on the horizon for the next year in eCommerce.
eCommerce Becomes More Engaging
Consumers no longer want a simple shopping experience when it comes to eCommerce.
These days, there is a growing trend towards making Ecommerce more entertaining and engaging for consumers. The rising popularity of sites like Pinterest shows that consumers want to browse, discuss and admire products rather than simply buying.
Retail giant Walmart have already picked up on this trend and integrated it into their site, with a Trending Now tab that encourages visitors to browse current popular products.
"This creates flexibility for the site to cater to the different types of customers who visit us. Some come to shop online for specific products, others come to browse and discover," said a Walmart spokesperson.
The tactic certainly seems to be working, with conversion rates on the Trending Now tab almost double conversion rates on the site overall.
The future of eCommerce is likely to see a move towards more games, interactive elements and social activities centered on browsing for and discussing products.
This reflects the growing change in consumer behavior, away from simply buying products to searching for an authentic and engaging experience.
Seamless Cross Channel and Mobile Integration
With 81% of Smartphone users accessing the internet on their phones, the ability to adapt to a wide range of devices is going to be a vital part of eCommerce going into 2014.
Many users will research a product on their phones, then buy it through a PC or by visiting a store, while others might see a product in a store, then go home and buy it via their phone.
This means that seamless browsing, saving of favorite products, and shopping across platforms are becoming an important part of any eCommerce presence.
There are growing indications that Smartphone sales may become one of the most profitable avenues for merchants. Wedding ring retailer My Trio Rings reports that the amount spent in a Smartphone transaction tends to be as much 12% more than sales through other mediums.
The trend towards browsing and shopping while mobile has caused some problems for retailers who struggle to compete with online prices while paying bricks and mortar overheads.
Customers are increasingly likely to browse in-store, but buy elsewhere online if the price is better. For retailers who can tap into this growing market and grow their eCommerce division however, things are looking good.
Personalizing the eCommerce Experience
Good customer service and building a trusting relationship with clients are becoming more and more important as customers expect more connections and more personalized shopping experiences.
Re-creating the experience of great customer service online without face to face interactions is a challenge eCommerce traders need to rise to if they are to build brand loyalty among their customers.
Tailoring an eCommerce site to the needs of its users can be relatively simple, such as Domino's "Pizza Profile" which saves a customer's favorites and orders, making the checkout experience smoother.
On the other end of the scale, dedicated sites such as Fab.com and Shoe Dazzle offer a detailed personalized experience, making recommendations based on a customer's shopping and browsing habits.
By the end of 2014, retailers expect to see further growth in the burgeoning eCommerce market.
Merchants who can follow the trends to offer a more interactive, personal and enjoyable shopping experience will reap the rewards in terms of increased sales and customer loyalty.
About the Author: Tristan Anwyn is an author who writes on subjects as diverse as health, marketing, accounting software, and SEO.
How innovation is transforming government
According to Washington Technology’s Top 100 list, Leidos is the largest IT provider to the government. But as Lieutenant General William J. Bender explains, “that barely scratches the surface” of the company’s portfolio and drive for innovation.
Bender, who spent three and a half decades in the military, including a stint as the U.S. Air Force’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), has seen action in the field and in technology during that time, and it runs in the family. Bender’s son is an F-16 instructor pilot. So it stands to reason Bender Senior intends to ensure a thriving technological base for the U.S. Air Force. “What we’re really doing here is transforming the federal government from the industrial age into the information age and doing it hand-in-hand with industry,” he says.
The significant changes that have taken place in the wider technology world are precisely the capabilities Leidos is trying to pilot the U.S. Air Force through. It boils down to developing cyberspace as a new domain of battle, globally connected and constantly challenged by the threat of cybersecurity attacks.
“We recognize the importance of the U.S. Air Force’s missions,” says Bender, “and making sure they achieve those missions. We sit side-by-side with the air combat command, intelligence surveillance, and reconnaissance infrastructure across the Air Force. There are multiple large programs where the Air Force is partnering with Leidos to ensure their mission is successfully accomplished 24/7/365. In this company, we’re all in on making sure there’s no drop in capability.”
That partnership relies on a shared understanding of delivering successful national security outcomes, really understanding the mission at hand, and Leidos’ long-standing relationship of over 50 years with the federal government.
To look at where technology is going, Bender thinks it is important to look back at the last 10 to 15 years. “What we’ve seen is a complete shift in how technology gets developed,” he says. “It used to be that the government invested aggressively in research and development, and some of those technologies, once they were launched in a military context, would find their way into the commercial space. That has shifted almost a hundred percent now, where the bulk of the research and development dollars and the development of tech-explicit technologies takes place in the commercial sector.”
“There’s a long-standing desire to adopt commercial technology into defense applications, but it’s had a hard time crossing the ‘valley of death’ [government slang for commercial technologies and partnerships that fail to effectively transition into government missions]. Increasingly we’re able to do that. We need to look at open architectures and open systems for a true plug-and-play capability. Instead of buying it now and trying to guess what it’s going to be used for 12 years from now, it should be evolving iteratively.”