Despite the presence of well-established online retail giants like Amazon and Zappos, the e-commerce world is a still rapidly shifting and developing space. In many ways, brands and consumers alike are still catching up with the potential that the technology available to them allows. Here we’ll take you through five of the big things that could change the e-commerce game.
1. The Fight Against Showrooming:
This March, a specialty food store in Brisbane, Australia gained international notoriety for posting a sign in their store announcing that visitors would be charged a five-dollar fee for browsing without buying. Why? To combat showrooming, the practice of looking at products in-store to then purchase for less online. According to Adweek, 60 percent of consumers are intentionally showrooming and less than ten percent of consumers are buying from the same website as the store they are using to showroom. For digital natives (i.e. Millennials) that number drops to less than five percent. The browsing fee plan of the Australian store may have been misguided (charging people to browse your goods is not a permanent solution to the problem if you want to keep people coming to your store), but the fact remains that big-box and small business retailers alike are trying to combat showrooming. Best Buy says that the practice is “now dead to [them]’ thanks to year-round price matching policies, a method which Target has also adopted. Brick and mortar isn’t going anywhere, but it is certainly going to have to adapt to a world where buying online is starting to make more sense to many buyers. Which brings us to…
2. A Mobile App Revolution:
More and more of e-commerce will be going mobile. A recent study from comScore also found that 86 million Americans are using their smartphones to shop online. This shift means than retailers are upping their app game, and with good reason. According to analytics firm Flurry, mobile (Android and iOS) users spent 525 percent more time on mobile apps between December 2011 and December 2012. Clearly a huge increase that indicates how big the future of the mobile e-commerce world could be. The increase in mobile commerce apps will change retail in a number of ways. Perhaps most significantly, shopping will become an activity not tied to time and place, as stores will travel with us in purses and pockets and could be used to while away the time much as a mindless gaming app currently would.
3. Cutting Out the Middle Man:
One of the biggest revolutions (and most attractive developments for consumers) in e-commerce right now is the offering of luxury quality goods at more affordable prices. New young brands like Warby Parker and Deal Decor are offering up their own high-end style products by cutting out the brick-and-mortar and the middleman. By working directly with manufacturers (who are newly open to cooperating with small brands) these companies are eliminating everyone who takes a cut of the profits in between factory and shelf to create a price-point that far undercuts traditional luxury brands of the same caliber. By cutting out those in-between parties, the system also changes the speed at which the creative process takes place. Not confined by traditional retail seasons, these brands can release items when the trends are happening, and move closer to the pace of consumers when it comes to keeping up with style.
4. Moving at the Speed of Y:
Speaking of consumer speed, it may seem that everything that Gen Y wants they want right now. It’s true that instant gratification has become a part of their consumer DNA, and they are less willing than previous generations to be patient and wait for the payoff. This watch-instantly attitude extends into their shopping expectations as well. The reason that 65 percent of Millennial shopping is still done in store may very well be because of that immediate gratification fix. But new e-commerce developments may change that. Same-day delivery looks to be a big part of the future of online retail. Big name stores online and off like Walmart, ebay and Amazon are already providing and expanding same-day delivery services. But the space is only growing. Google made big news by announcing that they are also getting into the same-day game with Google Shopping Express, a service aimed at gratifying impatient consumers currently being tested in San Francisco. When a digital giant starts playing in the e-commerce world, it’s something to watch.
5. Subscription Beyond the Beauty Box:
Subscription services used to be the domain of the cheese of the month club, but that stereotype has long gone stale. Brands like Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club have made beauty subscription services into big business in the last few years. Now the subscription world has expanded even further, and these days everything from underwear to pocket squares can now be purchased in subscription form. The category continues to grow: The Honest Company provides organic home and baby products delivered monthly and sites like The Fancy and Popsugar have begun curated subscription boxes based on the aesthetics and interests of their users. And all of this doesn’t even begin to tap into the “product-less” side of the subscription world. Spotify, Pandora, Amazon Prime, hulu and countless more are charging monthly fees to deliver the intangible: streaming entertainment, increased customer perks, and cloud storage. All of this, and Techcruch still says the space in its early stages of development. When it comes to the future e-commerce, the limit seems to be only “what will they think of next?”