2016 was a huge year for E-commerce. We saw trends and developments all over the world that revolutionized the way we shop and sell online. New technologies disrupted the industry by creating a customer that has become more and more demanding. This was a huge year for e-commerce events as well. We were official media partners with several events this year which allowed us to explore the most important topics of the year:
- Paris Retail Week: The Challenge of the Omni-Channel Customer
- Lengow E-Commerce Day: The Challenges of Cross-Border in 2016
- E-Commerce Africa Confex: The Challenge of a Mobile-Centric market
- Deliver One: Offering our Customers Better Logistics & Delivery
- 6th China Cross-Border E-Commerce Conference & Exhibition: What New Legislation Means for the World’s Largest E-Commerce Economy
Paris Retail Week: The Challenge of the Omni-Channel Customer
At Paris Retail Week, we saw the rise of demanding omni-channel consumers first-hand. Through exchanging with top influencers in the industry during this event, we had some key advice and tips on where the customer trends were heading.
Technological innovation was at the forefront of the discussion, with the launch of augmented reality apps like PokemonGo which became mainstream in very little time. Virtual reality also took off this year, with virtual reality videos released on YouTube, and games being released at top dollar.
As consumers ate up everything AR and VR touched, e-commerce companies scrambled to launch their own apps to engage the customers with this technology. One of the biggest questions of 2016: How do we use these technologies to innovate a better user experience for our customers?
Innovation didn’t stop at the reality, drones became a serious topic in logistics for cost cutting and faster deliver. Amazon launched the Dash button in the US earlier this year, and just announced it for Europe last week. With a very tangible aspect of e-commerce integrating into our daily lives, innovation in e-commerce became the hot topic leading into 2017.
Customers became more and more omni-channel in 2016, pushing brands to offer their services wherever their customers were. These customers wanted to be able to purchase, return, and communicate with the brands instantaneously everywhere and all the time. This presented a new challenge for e-commerce brands to rise to, and provoked the development of automated response and support.
At the same time, these customers wanted personalized experiences in their online shopping, with suggestions based on previous visits, what they like, and how they like to pay. What’s more, customers wanted to be have real human interactions on every channel. While chat bots and automated response algorithms became more and more advanced, consumers valued human to human interaction.
Lengow E-Commerce Day 2016: Challenges in Cross-Border in and out of the EU
In this truly international event that focused purely on cross-border e-commerce challenges, Lengow E-commerce Day gave us key insight into problems facing e-tailers wanting to go global. There was quite a bit of focus on the European market and how to solidify e-commerce in the EU. With the recent fall of the Brexit vote, questions arose about the future of the European e-commerce market.
Emerging markets in e-commerce, like MENA, India, and Africa were under the magnifying glass as a potential Eldorado for the industry. With the rise of the monster market that was Chinese e-commerce, these newer markets presented unique challenges for established e-tailers looking to grab prime real estate.
This presented a new challenge that forced many e-commerce professionals to bring their A-game when it came to customizing the user experience. However, the biggest challenge that e-tailers faced this year centered around m-commerce. Just a few days ago, history was made: mobile browsing has overtaken PC browsing across the entire world.
Several huge influencers in the industry advised to optimize for mobile; mobile had become a huge part of e-commerce revenue, and speed optimization for m-commerce was killing profits for many. In fact, for every 100 ms of loading time, the potential for sale will drop by 1%. While mobile optimization was a huge topic this year, the battle between responsive design, mobile sites, and store apps was in full swing.
While much of the western world explored faster m-commerce, emerging e-commerce markets embraced it whole-heartedly. With the majority of African, Asian, and MENA markets operating strictly on mobile (and the aforementioned working exclusively with mobile banking).
E-Commerce Africa Confex: The Challenge of a Mobile-Centric Market
We will see more of these themes (above all centered around fintech) in February at the E-Commerce MoneyAfrica Confex in Cape Town. As partners with this event, we were able to get an inside look into this event, which will present solutions for commerce via virtual banking.
African adults don’t typically have access to traditional banking solutions. Purchases are booming- and it’s all via virtual banking solutions. While mobile wasn’t so much a challenge for these markets, the real challenge was presented when it came to logistics.
The “last mile” of delivery solutions is the top subject in developing African markets- as many customers don’t have a standardized address. Solutions such as What3Words are tackling this problem head-on with innovating a new way to indicate your address by assigning three words to any given location on the planet to make delivery more clear for logistics providers.
Deliver One: Offering our Customers Better Logistics & Delivery
By far the largest subject throughout each event was the focus on facilitating cross-border e-commerce. How do we respond to all of the challenges brought up by selling in another country? Customers of 2016 were ready to take the plunge into cross-border, as long as e-commerce sites did their due diligence and were trustworthy. This put extra pressure on e-commerce companies to make sure their sites offered elements that fostered customer trust such as customer reviews, vetting badges, and clear returns policies.
At Deliver One, we explored the impact of that transport and logistics has on e-commerce. From beginning to end, logistics is the backbone of any successful e-commerce business- and with customers becoming more and more demanding on every level of e-commerce, there’s no longer any debate: fast isn’t fast enough.
Consumers are demanding for faster delivery, better, more accurate tracking information, and personalized packaging. If there was one thing that we learned at Deliver One, it’s that in cross-border e-commerce, customers expect perfection in e-commerce deliver, and will accept nothing less.
6th China Cross-border E-Commerce Conference & Exhibition: What New Legislation means for the World’s Largest E-Commerce Economy
It was also this year that China overtook the United States as the world’s largest e-commerce economy. With Chinese consumers purchasing more than ever from foreign markets, and the rest of the world clamping down on the less-expensive Chinese products, the e-commerce industry was booming for those doing business to and from the country.
In the midst of all this, new legislation from the Chinese government created turbulence for the industry world-wide; Chinese legislators changed their policy on in-bound cross-border purchases which were previously exempt from importation taxes under “personal use.”
While a year of transition was put into place to ease the strain that many e-commerce professionals and Chinese consumers were feeling, this development poses a lot of questions for the future of e-commerce in China. We will be exploring these topics as official media partner of the 6th China Cross-Border E-Commerce Convention and Exhibition, and hopefully find a way to push forward in the development of e-commerce markets throughout the world.
For E-Commerce Nation, the future of our involvement in the E-Commerce industry is a fast-paced one. We became official media partners with all of the events mentioned in this article, which has afforded us a more global view of E-commerce and what it means to the end-user, no matter where they find themselves in the world. We will be all over the globe towards the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 to transmit the messages pertinent to cultures and markets worldwide.
We’ve also added over 60 solution providers to our online e-commerce solution marketplace, the Business Place, with more solutions being added every day. We’ve worked to unite the world on our platform to create an easier development experience for our community. Regardless of where the ever-changing e-commerce industry takes us in 2017, E-Commerce Nation will be there to give you the latest updates and continue to provide the platform for everyone to grow together.