The following are some thoughts on trends in e-commerce and challenges for e-tailers in 2014.
1. Big data
In general, companies are stressed out about not using the potential of “big data”. For e-tailers, data-centric customer analyses have for many been a given, since data is the beating heart of e-commerce. 2014 will be the year that e-retailers and other businesses will fight for talent that know their way around data. The good ones are not easy to find – being a mix of a merchandiser, a marketeer and a data geek is not a common combination.
2. Content goes from being king to president (meaning real power)
High-quality, SEO-friendly and highly engaging content for enhanced user experience will be what matters for e-commerce websites in 2014. The relationship between exclusive quality content and ROI will become increasingly clear. E-retailers will in 2014 invest more in quality text, images and video.
Cross-channel is not a buzz-word anymore. Seamless browsing, saving and shopping across platforms is a no-brainer. Market growth will further drive investment in platforms and solutions, but mainly for brands with large budgets. The gap in user experience will increase between large and small e-tailers. It has become increasingly easy to start an e-commerce store front. Nevertheless, it will become harder to get the big picture to dance together. I also think we will see more M-commerce in 2014 – Osom is an interesting Swedish start-up in this area.
4. Mobile POS in stores
Mobile point-of-sale devices are no longer just a tool for small merchants to accept card payments, eg. via solutions such as Square and iZettle. Today, more and more retailers equip their staff with POS devices that enable payments without going to the tills – a trend that was initiated the Apple stores. I think we will see lots of POS devices during this year’s holiday rush. Presumably, these will live on and become a permanent solution in a lot of stores in 2014
5. Significant increase in number of e-stores
With lowered barriers of entry we will see lots of smaller companies are entering into the fray. Solutions such as Shopify, WooCommerce and Tictail are enabling this. The difficulty for smaller merchants will not be in the technical are but in acquiring customers at a reasonable cost.
Bonus thought on Facebook commerce
In 2014, I think Facebook will still be struggling to get F-commerce to take off. Most recently, with Facebook Autofill. Will they find an angle that works? Hmmm