Now that 2017 has made it’s entrance, it’s safe to say that the ecommerce phenomenon is only going to get stronger by the minute. Let’s look at recent industry insights projecting that online shopping will continue to disrupt the retail market for the upcoming years.
Today, 51% of Americans prefer to shop online rather than in stores- a number that rises to 67% for millennials.
When you consider that 62% of shoppers plan to spend more online in 2016 (Forrester), it’s not surprising that ecommerce global revenue (1183 B$ in 2016) will keep growing steadily at 10,72% annually and is expected to reach 1777 B$ in 2020.
And yet, one of the top online selling segments, the apparel and fashion accessories industry, is still confronted with major challenges, including an average return rate of 28%, low conversion rates and confusing sizing charts. We these set backs in mind, we have identified 9 ecommerce trends that apparel businesses should look for in 2017.
Unified Shopping Experience: Omni-Channel
Fashion and Apparel businesses will accelerate the integration of omni-channel strategies. This starts from the ground up, building strong foundations with centralized IT infrastructures that are driven by compatible end-to-end software solutions. In addition to this new infrastructure, businesses will merge physical and digital stores, enabling accurate inventory management and will considerably improve the shopping experience for consumers. In order to do so, communication systems between every touchpoint needs to be built.
Asia’s Booming Ecommerce Market
The US has traditionally been a key market for a brand’s growth driven by a strong economy, but with recent political change and the maturation of Asian markets, you can expect China to play a key role for ecommerce companies in 2017. China’s market growth exceeded expectation to the degree that online sales are expected to increase by 1 Trillion $ in only 3 years.
In 2016, over half of web sessions were from mobile devices, but they only accounted for one third of online sales. Although many shoppers are concerned about the security and privacy of completing transactions via mobile device, an important number of them are turned away by non-responsive websites, contributing to a poor shopping experience. In 2017, we expect to see apparel brands improve mobile user experience (UX) and marketers to focus on strategies that convert mobile users efficiently into desktop buyers.
Digital Product Storytelling
Storytelling is a powerful way to move people. In 2017, we expect that more businesses will embrace and integrate brand or product storytelling in their ecommerce marketing strategies. Successful apparel & fashion businesses will focus on increasing consumer emotional involvement in the brand through social media and content marketing stories. Social influencers will also play a major role in adding credibility and visibility to these stories. Ultimately, storytelling content will help improve companies’ SEO and webstore traffic.
Artificial Intelligence in Action
Talking to robots may sound weird, but chatbots will automate a large part of customer service. This will be accomplished by interacting with website visitors at the right time with the right message. The use of chatbots will boost ecommerce conversion rates, all the while reducing your customer service HR budget.
As the competitive landscape of ecommerce grows, customization is expected to play a bigger role in 2017. Customization gives apparel businesses the chance to differentiate themselves from competitors by offering added value products to consumers and by gaining premium insights on what shoppers really desire. Tech innovations, such as 3D printing and 3D scanning, will accelerate the integration of made-to-measure products for many fashion and footwear brands. For instance, Nathan Kong is innovating with Tailor2go: a tailor that comes to your home or workplace and offers you custom outerwear using cutting-edge 3D Body Scanning Technology.
Uber-ization of Shipping
What is the Uber-ization of shipping and how is it going to impact us in 2017? This concept is based on uber approach to connect people with technology and real time data in order to create efficient alternative for shipping. We can expect major shifts in shipping for fashion companies, especially those running smaller boutiques, by utilizing local drop-off points to offer same-day delivery and reduce shipping cost. This will allow brands to stay competitive within the larger marketplace as big players, such as Amazon that have already mastered fast, effective and economic shipping.
Shifting Store Purpose
With the imminent growth of online shopping over brick and mortar, as well as the uber-ization concept in full motion, stores will develop a whole a new purpose. Brick-and-mortars will focus on smaller showrooms with less inventory, more digital displays and smart fitting rooms. Thus leaving more floor space for back store and logistic operations. Stores are quickly becoming giant interactive billboards with the intention of engaging shoppers and capturing their personal information.
Brick-and-mortars succeed at providing the touch-and-feel experience that consumers need, but store personnel and in-store marketing strategies will continue to run after your email address or Facebook like. Devices like iBeacons will also play a major role in gathering information on shoppers in order to transform a single store visit into multiple online sales.
In today's shifting market and fast-paced business environment, how you measure and analyze market insight will likely define your competitive edge. In 2017, Business Intelligence solutions will keep raising the bar, allowing businesses of all sizes to make faster and more accurate decisions using the Internet of Things data and predictive analytics, while improving user experience by offering seamless omni-channel shopping.