2015 is shaping up to be an exciting year for e-commerce! The new kids on the block including new applications, websites and players are strengthening the competitive spirit that pervades the industry and, in the process, benefiting the consumers.

Think of it: With better technologies in store, consumers benefit from better products and services while e-commerce purveyors enjoy better bottom lines. Here are the e-commerce trends that both consumers and purveyors should be aware of that allows them to take advantage according to their own purposes.

Mobile Commerce

Mobile shopping has certainly arrived on the scene, as can be evidenced by the sharp increase in consumer preferences for it. Nowadays, mobile commerce accounts for nearly 50% of e-commerce traffic for the holidays. So much so that pundits have aptly called it the M-commerce Revolution.

Merchants are well advised to leverage the following 2015 trends for mobile commerce and, in the process, begin their dominance of overall online shopping.

  • Mobile CommerceMobile commerce leads the way in e-commerce growth. Why? According to Google studies, people are spending an average of 151 minutes per day on their Internet connected phones. Savvy online merchants must then have mobile-friendly websites to tap into a burgeoning market. Consumers who use their laptops or desktops to browse through their choices in products and services will likely continue browsing and then buying using their smartphones. Consumers must then be provided with ample opportunity to switch between laptops and mobile devices via the appropriately designed websites.
  • Payments with smartphones are on the rise. With the advent of Apple Pay, Google Wallet, and Pay Pal, among other platforms, consumers paying for their purchases this way are becoming an everyday occurrence. Online merchants who provide the payment facility for their consumers will benefit more from the technology.
  • Older demographics are on the rise, too. Studies have shown that boomers and seniors are also in on mobile commerce with 25% of mobile shoppers belonging to this group. Online merchants must then ensure that their marketing and selling programs target the older demographics without sacrificing the traditional markets (i.e., millennials and women).
  • Multi-channel marketing mix is a must. Everything in your marketing program should tap into the highly mobile market (i.e., consumers who are more likely to use their mobile phones and smartphones than their laptops and desktops for browsing and buying products and services). Look into innovative mobile shopping applications, such as TheFind, ShopSavvy, and RedLaser.

The bottom line: Mobile commerce can dominate the market in 2015, a fact that savvy merchants should take advantage of to stay in the game.

Social Commerce

According to Booz and Co, social commerce sales of physical goods will grow by 93% per year and reach $14 billion in 2015 – and that’s for the United States alone. Indeed, there’s money to be mined in social networking sites especially on Facebook, Twitter and SnapChat.

Social Commerce

Many social game developers, most notably Disney, Zynga, and Crowdstar, have actually started making money by selling a wide range of products and services from virtual tractors to high-tech weapons. Think of it this way: People in the United States pay a staggering $2.1 billion in things that exist only in the virtual world.

The trends in social commerce are being fuelled by factors like:

  • Consumers are buying more of their required products and services via social media storefronts. People are proactively following, so to speak, their favourite retailers on social media particularly Facebook and Twitter as well as on their own official blogs.
  • Consumers are accessing their social media account via their smartphones. Nearly 50% of Twitters users and 34% of Facebook users access their accounts via their mobile phones, a habit that merchants can tap into by providing their consumers with a positive mobile experience on their websites and social media accounts.

Indeed, target consumers are using social media beyond sharing content, recommended products, and connecting with their families and friends. They are using social media to feed their consumer needs and wants and, in the process, pushing the development of social commerce to greater heights.

The trends in social commerce can be broken down into the following:

  • Twitter commerce: With the wildfire quality with which word gets around in Twitter, the social network is one of the best places to sell products and services with high spoilage rate, or with limited supply, or with temporal nature. Twitter uses the Stripe technology to skip on the use of credit cards when customers purchase from the website. Basically, consumers can buy the product within their feeds by clicking on the “Buy” button sans the use of credit cards.
  • Facebook commerce: Facebook will not be left behind in the social commerce bandwagon with its purchase application. In a mobile screen demonstration, consumers will see suggested posts in their newsfeeds about products and services, which can then be directly bought by clicking on the “Buy” button.
  • SnapChat commerce: SnapChat is in a partnership with Square in delivering the SquareCash system, which allows their users to register their debit cards to transfer and receive money with their friends on SnapChat. The management plans to add a buying component to the application soon.

While social media is now mainly used to market products and services, 2015 may be the year that it is used to actually complete the transaction.

Omni Channel

Omni ChannelRetailers with both a physical location and an online presence are combining the two in innovative ways. The trends in Omni channel for 2015 include:

  • Online orders, physical pick-ups. Consumers have the option of browsing, ordering and paying for their purchases online and the picking up their orders from a physical location, such as a store in a mall.
  • Informed purchases. Consumers are increasingly using comparison shopping to make informed buying decisions, thus, increasing their penchant for visiting multiple websites across multiple devices (i.e., smartphones, laptops, and even televisions). But here’s the deal: The final locations for the purchases are very different from their initial points of interaction, thus, emphasising the need for better customer interaction.
  • Levels of trust. Consumers can be loyal toward products and services when retailers establish three levels of trust, namely, social, product and brand trust.
  • Virtual reality and in-store fulfilment are taking shape. Both aspects of Omni channel marketing are considered as profitable investments for retailers because virtual reality enhances the in-store fulfilment, as is the case with the use of mobile digital assistants.

Just as with mobile and social commerce, Omni commerce is becoming increasingly digital yet personalised in its approach. Consumers want the efficiency of digital technologies yet desire the warmth of personalised services – truly, a challenge that marketers and retailers should take up in order to survive, if not thrive, in a very competitive market.

Free Shipping and Return, Same-day Delivery

Retailers engaged in all three aspects of digital commerce should take the appropriate measures to ensure positive customer experiences regardless of the selling platform used. This can partly be achieved by the use of favourable policies particularly free shipping and return as well as same-day delivery, with the free shipping applicable on returned goods.

Ultimately, retailers should always be on their toes in assessing the changing needs and wants of their target consumers as well as in looking out for new technologies that can provide for a better consumer experience. The customer is always right, after all!