Every year the evolution of ecommerce seems to gain momentum. 2017 was no exception. More and more buying is moving online and total ecommerce sales are expected to top $2.9 trillion worldwide in 2018 – that's nearly 90% of the GDP of the continent of Africa.
In addition to the shift in buying behavior from retail-space to cyber-space, technology is constantly changing and it's a challenge for businesses to stay current. The ever-present risk is that falling behind can be costly.
If you're not quick to adapt to changing consumer preferences and the technologies that meet them, you can quickly lose conversions and revenue to competitors that are able to deliver a more responsive, convenient and personalized online shopping and checkout experience. With this in mind, these will be the top ecommerce trends to track in 2018.
While ecommerce growth in Europe and North America continues to clip along at around 8% and 9% respectively, the fastest growing markets are in Asia. Ecommerce is simply bigger with a higher adoption rate in rising economies like China and South Korea. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the biggest online shopping days in the U.S., they are dwarfed by China's Single's Day.
The key takeaway here is that if your payment stack is only equipped to sell to your domestic market, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity. Instead, consider a payments solution that integrates seamlessly with the rest of your revenue stack and that enables global ecommerce by supporting multiple currencies, languages and payment methods delivering localized cart experiences to each of your geo-markets via IP and browser preference detection.
Generation Z, those born after 1995, are fast becoming a demographic with buying clout. With 77% of this cohort saying they spend 5 or more hours a day on their devices, it's not surprising they're shopping and buying more online than any other generation. Not only do they have $44 billion in spending power on their own, they are also influential in as much as $600 billion worth of family spending.
Compared to other demographics, Generation Z has high expectations when it comes to online experiences. They've grown up with the Internet and are adept at sifting through large amounts of information fast and, with 97% owning a smartphone, they are most likely to be looking for information on their mobile device.
With expectations of getting the information they need quickly, fast loading times and seamless shopping experiences on every device are a must. They like social media but tend to prefer Snapchat, Secret and Whisper over Facebook.
In terms of support, 60% are likely to hang up if their call is not answered in 45 seconds. As Generation Z enters the workforce, they will gain even more buying power and ecommerce businesses are going to have to step it up to compete for and keep their attention.
It's not just Generation Z that has high expectations of online experiences. People in general are increasingly expecting shopping and checkout experiences to adapt to their behavior and interests, not the other way around.
Not only do online storefronts need to be fast and easily navigable, they need to adjust to their users' preferences as well. According to Accenture, over 75% of shoppers say that they are more likely to buy from a website that personalizes their experience, either with their name, or with recommendations based on past purchasing history.
In addition, offering and supporting their preferred online payment methods, local currency and language is key to keeping them engaged and converting their sale, all while ensuring a fully responsive experience at each touch-point. According to RetailDrive.com, nearly 60% of shoppers look up product information and prices while using their mobile phones in stores, making a mobile strategy critical for retailers.
The past year saw many companies big and small fall victim to security breaches and payment fraud.
There are many proven ways to mitigate risk, but if you incorporate too many authentication steps to protect from data breaches and fraud, you can put off many potential customers. As a result of more and bigger breaches, governments are stepping up regulation requirements for companies handling sensitive customer data.
The penalties for contravening regulations vary in different jurisdictions and include stiffer fines, criminal liability and even the suspension of business operations. The most prominent example of increased regulation is the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect in 2018.
Unfortunately, there is no uniformity in laws between countries which can pose a challenge to companies operating internationally. Added to this challenge, with massive data breaches like Equifax, it is expected that fraud will be an even bigger problem going forward.
Many are increasingly implementing multi-layer authentication processes with the industry specializing in this service expected to grow 23% annually for the next several years. According to Cyber Source, the top authentication steps that are planned to be added include 3D secure (17%), email verification (12%) and fraud scoring (12%). Other features many are considering include biometrics, geo-location, cryptographic keys, and behavioral analytics.
With current measures, approximately 2.9% of orders are rejected because of suspected fraud. Unfortunately, 10% of these are suspected false positives which can result in angry customers and lost business.
Online shoppers have a lot of information and a lot of offers at their fingertips. The fight for attention during the lucrative holiday periods when more people are actively shopping online becomes even more fierce. Accordingly, many stores are adapting with longer periods of deals. For example, many Boxing Day sales started as early as Christmas Eve and extend well into January. Black Friday now often starts before Thanksgiving and extends all weekend.
With consumer preferences, technology and security threats changing so rapidly, it will be imperative to continue to invest in a revenue stack that can keep up with your chosen strategy. An optimized ecommerce experience is no longer confined to one department or technology solution. It takes an entire company and ecosystem of solutions working together to provide a truly great online experience for your customers.
Not only do you need basic payment processing, you need top security, a variety of payment methods, chargeback management, fraud mitigation, localization features, conversion optimization, billing support, pricing flexibility, international tax calculations, partner payouts, transaction emails, subscription management, a CRM, analytics tools and more. All of these individual solutions need to be plugged together to provide real-time data to power business decisions and deliver solutions that satisfy increasingly online and expectant customers.
While the challenges this year promise to be formidable, the ways to connect with customers and earn their loyalty is also increasing. The technology is available. If you can capitalize on the trends affecting ecommerce now, you will see your conversions, customer base and revenue continue to grow into and beyond 2018.