The 15 e-Commerce Trends Driving Retail in 2017

As retailers continue to build their digital capabilities and work towards a completely unified operational approach they are placing an increased emphasis on e-commerce firepower. To uncover the major e-commerce trends that will have the greatest impact on retail in 2017 and beyond, We analyzed more than 50 digital and e-commerce projects from major retailers and highlighted the common themes.

The Top 15 eCommerce trends for 2017

Its Top 15 e-Commerce Trends for 2017 report spotlights the e-commerce trends that will dominate the next 12 months and will impact both the way retailers operate and consumers shop.

The entire report can be found here. Below is a quick look at the Top 15 e-Commerce Trends to Watch Out For in 2017.

The End of Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Although both days set sales records in 2016 the report states a new trend will emerge: Cyber November. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer signal the start of the holiday shopping season, but will simply be part of a longer, more digitally focused shopping season that will dominate November and December.

Real-Time Customization

Both the digital and the in-store shopping experience will adapt to consumers in real-time. Shoppers will increasingly have access to unique content: product recommendations and add-ons chosen based on their preferences, geographic location, market trends, demographic group, etc Lifestyle Analysis.

Artificial Intelligence

In 2017, many consumers will have their first interaction with a chatbot, a fully automated chat agent that will answer their questions and act as the first point of contact with the brand. The bots increase the number of platforms on which a brand can transact by offering guided, interactive browsing at all times.

Virtual Reality

Shifting sideways from Artificial Intelligence to the artificial experiences of Virtual Reality, it’s interesting that the consumer hasn’t, up until now, understood VR as a shopping experience. A gaming experience or a TV experience, yes, but not for shopping.

However, Virgin Holidays have changed that this year. They are boosting sales to key destinations with augmented reality in store. All shot in the first person, consumers can walk in to a store and ‘try before they buy’ by popping on the headsets and experiencing their holiday.

Bye-Bye Wallets

2017 will mark the beginning of the end for wallets and cash thanks to wearables and other next-gen payment technology. Retailers should get out in front of this trend before the competition does.

2017 will see a drastic decrease of traditional payments and will move towards payment via smartphone, watch, or other wearable devices. The use of digital wallets like mobile wallet will grow up both in digital and physical stores. With the new credit card standards, a lot of retailers are updating their POS systems moving closer towards a world that is able to accept mobile payments as easily as credit card payments. 2017 will be a year when a larger portion of the general public becomes comfortable paying with their mobile phones rather than their credit cards.

The Rise (and rise) of Social Shopping

Shopping has always been a social experience – it’s just that the gossiping has transferred from the workplace/ coffee shop / pub among a small group of friends to now happening online with an audience of potentially millions. Customers are talking about products and services in highly visible places all over the internet, and these conversations are playing a role in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Shoppers aren’t just stumbling into user-generated content about products and services; they’re actively seeking it out and making it an indispensable part of their purchase process.

In fact, according to the Google ZMOT report, 70% of consumers research online before purchasing in-store. That’s huge – and still growing rapidly. Too huge for retailers to just sit back and hope that their customers create positive word-of-mouth content for them. They should play an active role in its creation – and make sure it is put right in the path of consumers who are considering purchases.

The Snapchat-ization of Shopping

Gen Y and Z consumers are hooked on the instant communication and unique experiences made possible by mobile technologies, RFID, NFC, and geolocation. In parallel, analytics will shift from the Web to the street; from the computer to the individual.

Predictive Analysis

By exploiting the massive amount of data collected through various consumer touchpoints, merchants can use predictive analysis to better understand shoppers’ purchasing habits, preferences, and, predict their next purchases, based on the behavior of other customers with similar profiles.

Using predictive analytics combined with actionable widgets to target user behavior can increase conversions by 50%. For example, if a visitor enters your e-commerce site website looking for a specific product, often they might be hesitant about paying the price and still, they try to leave the browser tab to continue to shop around at which time, a popup can immediately appear saying “Buy this now and get 20% off.” Another example of an actionable widget can happen when clicking on a woman’s category for example, that then defines that shopper as a female and as a result, the shopping experience renders the content, promotions, and the color theme to be gender specific.

The Uber-ization of Shipping

The fulfilment revolution will continue with smaller stores, local drop-off points and same-day delivery. The report predicts that many consumers will receive their first same-day delivery. And the smaller store formats will serve as showrooms, fitting rooms, or drop-off points. Customers will be able to order the product they want after having seen it and touched it.

Unified Commerce

Silos continue to be eliminated, and, possibly for the first time ever, easily avoided. Instead of adding a digital storefront to the in-store infrastructure, merchants will instead integrate their stores (physical or digital) into a centralized infrastructure.

Mobile Commerce

Mobile commerce has been steadily growing, but if Black Friday and Cyber Monday mobile sales are any indication – with U.S. shoppers alone purchasing over $2.4 billion worth of goods via a mobile phone or tablet on those two days alone – 2017 is going to be huge.

“Apple Pay and Android Pay have greatly improved the mobile check-out process, and PayPal does more than $14 billion dollars in mobile payments alone,” says Matt Smith, founder, Later. “Consumers are spending more time on mobile devices and mobile internet traffic is now greater than desktop.” Moreover, “mobile-first social networks like Instagram, and more frequent mobile-based searches on mobile devices, will make it hard for anyone to be a winner in the ecommerce space without a huge focus on mobile.”

“With brands like CVS and Samsung seeing success after implementing CVS Pay and Samsung Pay, more retailers will begin adopting this strategy [mobile wallets] as a way to engage with consumers and build loyalty with their brand,” says Don Hughes, CIO, Kobie Marketing. “Mobile wallets simplify rewards programs and offer opportunities to interact with consumers wherever they go. Retailers can even use these apps to offer time-sensitive and location-based vouchers and deals, which is a great way to surprise and delight customers and incentivize a purchase.”

Disintermediation

Consumers want to deal directly with brands, but where do retailers fit in? Merchants will attempt to cement their relationship with the customer by becoming indispensable and by offering added value: warranties, complementary services and, of course, independence from the brands.

New Tech Solutions for eCommerce

We’ll see new tech solutions for ecommerce. As ecommerce grows, so will the market for tech solutions for online retailers. In 2016, the market for marketing tech for ecommerce boasted with over 3,500 providers. 76% of online retailers in the UK consider innovation to be a business priority. This number is expected to grow in 2017, as ecommerce matures and there is a growing demand for tech that specialize in niche solutions in ecommerce.

Some of the most sought-after ecommerce solutions in 2017 will focus on improving customer experience, user-centric personalization (both on-site and off-site), real-time and predictive analytics, conversion rate optimization, and rich interactive content. Online retailers will look into solutions that can offer deeper insights into consumer behavior and track consumer engagement and conversions across channels. Consumers become quickly accustomed to innovative approaches to online shopping, so ecommerce retailers will need to continuously explore new tech that delivers convenience, comfort, and exceptional experiences to customers.

Free Shipping & Fast Delivery Will be Top Priority

When trying to predict the future of retail, there’s a lot of talk about progressive strategies like, for example, the adoption of VR. However, before your store even gets the chance to impress shoppers with advanced tech, what consumers care about first and foremost is delivery – how fast is it and is it free?

Yes, while the press and the public muse about drone deliveries, in 2017, majority of online retailers will be still trying to figure out profitable ways to deliver free shipping and super-fast shipping in order to compete with the giants like Amazon. Data of past consumer behavior confirms this. 44% of consumers abandon their shopping carts if the delivery is perceived to be too expensive. Free shipping is so important that 58% of shoppers are willing to add more items to cart to qualify for free delivery and 83% are willing to wait longer for the items to arrive to their homes. To stay competitive in 2017, online retailers will need to seek ways to absorb the shipping costs (including delivery and returns) in order to motivate shoppers to place on order from their digital stores.

But free delivery is not everything. Timing is also a part of the equation determining the likelihood of purchase. In 2016, 29% of consumers said they would be willing to pay more and order more items for the same-day delivery, following the practice introduced by Amazon Prime. The soaring popularity of services like Postmates also fuels consumers’ demand for faster shipping. Next-day or same-day delivery is considered “fast” by 92% of shoppers in the US, and the threshold falls considerably for 3-5 day shipping. This means that in 2017, online retailers will also need to look into the fastest way to get the products from their warehouses to shoppers’ doorsteps. In-store delivery and partnerships with innovative delivery services will be on the rise.

Video Will Begin to Dominate

Imagine it’s about 8:00 p.m. in Salem, Oregon. Melisa is visiting her daughter, son-in-law, and week-old grandson. After chatting and visiting much of the day, everyone sits down on a faux leather couch in front of the young couple’s 32-inch television.

Melisa, like many folks her age, might have been expecting prime time television or, perhaps, a show streamed via Netflix or Hulu. But instead, her millennial daughter and son-in-law turns on YouTube and starts to watch an episode of “Good Mythical Morning,” an Internet series featuring Rhett McLaughlin and Charles Lincoln “Link” Neal III.

This should not be too surprising, millennials aged 18 to 34 have shown a strong preference for digital video over traditional television.

A recent comScore and YouTube study found that about 35 percent of millennials preferred to watch YouTube compared to about 18 percent that preferred traditional television programming.

What’s more, some 74 percent of those millennials said they liked to watch videos that brands, companies, or institutions had uploaded. It is not much of a stretch to say that some 74 percent of these millennials like content marketing.

In 2017, content marketers, who already recognize this trend, will increasingly produce videos. In fact, expect video to begin to become a dominant form for some large ecommerce operations.

The 10 Biggest E-Commerce Shopping Days of 2016

130117-ddp-lg.jpgCyber Monday (November 28) was the biggest e-commerce shopping day of 2016 in the United States, according to recent research from comScore.

The report was based on comScore 2016 data for non-travel (retail) e-commerce spending via both home and work desktop computers. The researchers excluded auctions and large corporate purchases from the data set.

Consumers in the United States spent $2.67 billion via desktop computers on Cyber Monday 2016. The following day (November 29) was the next biggest day of the year for e-commerce purchases, followed by Black Friday (November 25).

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Consumers spent $63.1 billion via desktop computers on retail e-commerce sites this holiday season (November through December 2016), up 12% year over year.

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About the research: The report was based on comScore 2016 data for non-travel (retail) e-commerce spending via both home and work desktop computers. The researchers excluded auctions and large corporate purchases from the data set.

THE THOMAS L. CARTER, JR. INVESTS IN 14,000 BY BUYING BLACK STONE MINERALS LP (BSM) STOCK SHARES

Black Stone Minerals LP (NYSE:BSM) CEO Thomas L. Carter, Jr. acquired 14,000 shares of the stock in a transaction on Wednesday, November 16th. The shares were purchased at an average cost of $17.94 per share, with a total value of $251,160.00. Following the transaction, the chief executive officer now directly owns 491,506 shares of the company’s stock, valued at approximately $8,817,617.64. The purchase was disclosed in a filing with the SEC, which can be accessed through this link.

Black Stone Minerals LP (NYSE:BSM) traded up 0.45% during trading on Wednesday, hitting $17.99. The stock had a trading volume of 86,391 shares. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $17.79 and its 200-day moving average is $16.46. The stock’s market capitalization is $3.43 billion. Black Stone Minerals LP has a 52-week low of $10.71 and a 52-week high of $19.65.

The firm also recently disclosed a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, November 25th. Shareholders of record on Thursday, November 17th will be given a $0.2875 dividend. This represents a $1.15 annualized dividend and a yield of 6.39%. The ex-dividend date is Tuesday, November 15th. Black Stone Minerals’s dividend payout ratio (DPR) is presently -958.25%.

Several equities analysts have commented on the company. Barclays PLC raised their price objective on Black Stone Minerals from $18.00 to $20.00 and gave the company an “overweight” rating in a research report on Tuesday, August 16th. Zacks Investment Research raised Black Stone Minerals from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research report on Tuesday, July 19th. Finally, Stifel Nicolaus assumed coverage on Black Stone Minerals in a research report on Tuesday, September 6th. They set a “buy” rating and a $19.00 price objective for the company.

A number of institutional investors have recently made changes to their positions in BSM. Franklin Street Advisors Inc. NC increased its position in shares of Black Stone Minerals by 40.0% in the second quarter. Franklin Street Advisors Inc. NC now owns 28,000 shares of the company’s stock valued at $434,000 after buying an additional 8,000 shares during the period. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. increased its position in shares of Black Stone Minerals by 6.1% in the first quarter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. now owns 508,794 shares of the company’s stock valued at $7,128,000 after buying an additional 29,241 shares during the period. Lucas Capital Management increased its position in shares of Black Stone Minerals by 16.1% in the second quarter. Lucas Capital Management now owns 181,334 shares of the company’s stock valued at $2,811,000 after buying an additional 25,117 shares during the period. Gruss & Co. Inc. increased its position in shares of Black Stone Minerals by 232.4% in the second quarter. Gruss & Co. Inc. now owns 232,656 shares of the company’s stock valued at $3,606,000 after buying an additional 162,656 shares during the period. Finally, Global X Management Co. LLC acquired a new position in shares of Black Stone Minerals during the second quarter valued at approximately $333,000. 16.58% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Online sales are putting a dent in brick-and-mortar retailers

From Victoria’s Secret to Macy’s, brick-and-mortar retailers took it on the chin this holiday season, while online sales jumped nearly 20 percent.

One notable exception: Gap Inc., which seemed to benefit from demand for bargains as same-store sales spiked 12 percent at its low-price Old Navy chain, contributing to a 4 percent comp-store gain overall for November and December, and sending Gap’s stock soaring.

Overall, however, so many shoppers shunned brick-and-mortar stores that sales plunged 10.3 percent in December, and traffic declined even further, according to RetailNext, which analyzes shopping trips across specialty and large-format stores nationwide. Sales dipped 0.4 percent during the same period in 2015, an easy comparison stores still couldn’t beat.

This is the beginning of the end for a lot of retailers — or at least the beginning of a major conversion of their platform, from brick-and-mortar with a small online presence, to a large online presence with a limited brick-and-mortar base,” said Peter Schaeffer, a principal at financial advisory firm GlassRatner.

The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales, excluding cars, gas and restaurants, to rise 3.6 percent, to $655.8 billion, for 2016. But it was a season of stark contrasts, with online sales expected to surge 19 percent, to roughly $98 billion, even as sales and profits slumped at thousands of traditional stores.

Sales were volatile throughout the holiday season,” said Kohl’s Chief Executive Kevin Mansell. “Strong sales on Black Friday and during the week before Christmas were offset by softness early in November and December.

This pattern played out at many stores. The Friday before Christmas emerged as the top day for sales in the November-December period, knocking Black Friday out of its traditional spot and into second place, said RetailNext. A last-minute bump of 6.5 percent in the week before Christmas was too little too late.

Poor holiday sales can lead to layoffs and store closures, like those announced last week by Macy’s and Sears. January is also a common month for retail bankruptcy filings.

Here, a snapshot of brick-and mortar chains that slumped during the holidays:

  • Macy’s: Same-store sales slid 2.1 percent in the November-December period, denting profits and the stock price, and prompting a massive restructuring. Macy’s said last week that in the fourth quarter, it will take a $250 million charge — on top of $249 million charge in the second quarter — for restructuring, including slashing 10,000 jobs and closing 100 stores in the next few years. Macy’s, which operates 730 Macy’s locations, slashed its estimates for earnings per share before special charges to a range of $2.95 to $3.10, from $3.15 to $3.40.
  • Kohl’s: Same-stores sales slid 2.1 percent in November and December. The retailer, which operates more than 1,100 stores, slashed earnings expectations to $2.92 to $2.97 per share, from $3.12 to $3.32.
  • Barnes & Noble: Same-store sales fell 9.1 percent for the nine weeks ended Dec. 31, and the company, which has 638 stores, slashed its full-year sales forecast.
  • Victoria’s Secret: Same-store sales slid 4 percent in December at the L Brands unit, which operates 1,001 stores.
  • The Limited announced — ironically on its website — late Friday that it was closing all 250 of its stores, but would continue its online operations. Its owner Sun Capital Partners had no comment.

The broadest challenge facing stores comes from online retailers — the clear winners this year.

Amazon set the pace with its popular voice-activated Echo devices and one-hour delivery service in some cities. The e-tailer is expected to post strong profit margins following robust sales of Echo and fewer holiday-season bottlenecks at its fulfillment centers, Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said in a note.

In addition to Gap, L Brands’ Bath & Bodyworks division logged gains, with December same-store sales up 3 percent. And although Barnes & Noble’s comps plunged, CEO Len Riggio said cost controls will help boost operating profits.

Source: http://nypost.com/

Australian online retail sales were booming in November

Australian online retail sales accelerated sharply in November, according to the National Australia Bank, an outcome that bodes well for Australia’s official retail sales report for November scheduled for release on Tuesday.

The bank’s online retail sales index jumped by 1.1% in November in seasonally adjusted terms, more than double the 0.5% pace reported in the previous month.

A promising sign for total retail spending in November, particularly as the increase in the NAB’s online index in September mirrored that reported by the ABS.

Despite the enormous jump seen in November, the annual pace of sales slowed to a still brisk 13.3%, down from the 14.4% level seen in the year to September.

As a result of that solid increase, the NAB estimates that total online retail sales over the past year stood at $21.4 billion, or around 7.1% of total retail sales reported by the ABS.

The chart below shows the growth in Australian online retail sales compared to total retail sales reported by the ABS. While online sales remains a small proportion of total retail sales, it’s clearly growing at a faster pace than those in traditional bricks-and-mortar stores.

Australia’s November retail sales report will be released at 11.30am AEDT on Tuesday, January 10. An increase of 0.4% is expected, down fractionally on the 0.5% gain reported previously.

Article Source: Business Insider Australia

The Deathwatch Begins For Cyber Monday

Forbes, DEC 16, 2016 – Retail has been undergoing a transformation, driven by the consumer adoption of technology as part of their shopping process: They go online, they shop from their phones, they generally disrupt the retail ecosystem through a declining interest in stores and a growing interest in the convenience and speed of e-commerce. The trend has grown to the point where the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that 7.7% of all retail sales (excluding restaurants, gas and automotive) are online sales.

However, during the months of November and December, all that changes. The National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts that in 2016 online sales will reach $117 billion in the U.S. during the months of November and December, a year-over-year growth rate of “7-10%” (I’m not sure why they can’t be more precise here). That total is 17.8% of the $655.8 billion that U.S. consumers will spend combined in November and December, which itself is predicted to grow by 3.6%. The NRF additionally predicts that 56.5% of shoppers plan to shop online during the season, up 6.8% from 2015.

What we’re seeing in terms of actual traffic (note this is not sales), is something more significant than 7% increases. According to Verizon’s Holiday Retail Index report, most periods within the holiday season are averaging 10-15% growth in traffic year-over-year:

The only day that is not wildly above the projected growth is Cyber Monday. This dip is interesting all by itself, and probably predicts the ultimate decline and demise of Cyber Monday as a shopping “holiday”. Consumers used to go out and shop Black Friday weekend in person, and then go to work on Monday and finish their shopping based on what they could find online – delivered through the high speed internet of their employers, rather than their low-speed bandwidth at home.

Consumers no longer need to wait until Monday to get deals, and that is driven home by the surge in online traffic on the Sunday before Cyber Monday, when early birds were inspired to look for deals far enough in advance that Cyber Monday itself actually saw a fall in traffic year over year. Sure, the day still broke sales records, but with traffic down when all the surrounding days were up, the signs for the future health of Cyber Monday are not good.

As consumer online behavior becomes more entrenched, Cyber Monday will ultimately become irrelevant – an anachronism from the early days of online shopping.

Retail sales rise thanks to Black Friday boost in November

The Guardian, Thursday 15 December – Bumper sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday helped the retail sector to maintain strong growth in November and bolstered hopes of a busy Christmas on the high street.

Department stores and electrical goods sellers were the biggest beneficiaries as consumers sought out deals on the latest TVs and phones. The Office for National Statistics said sales increased by 0.5% excluding fuel in November from October and by 5.9% on the same month last year.

The only blot on the generally upbeat picture was fuel sales after a spike in pump prices put an end to 18 months of low driving costs. To emphasise the squeeze on drivers, the ONS said fuel prices increased at the fastest rate since 2011 to push sales to their lowest level of annual growth for two years.

Some analysts said the rising cost of imports, including fuel, would combine with low wage growth to take the steam out of sales. Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “A substantial correction is coming. Next year will be very different.”

Inflation jumped to 1.2% in November as the 15% fall in sterling since June forced firms to begin nudging prices higher.

Tombs said: “The squeeze on real incomes from higher inflation and slower employment growth will push the rate of growth of retail sales down sharply. For now, though, consumers’ spending continues to drive economic growth.”

Chris Williamson said it was understandable that retailers would feel buoyant after they enjoyed the strongest three-month spell of growth for almost two years in the third quarter, but figures for October and November showed “cracks may be appearing in the willingness of consumers to keep spending in the face of rising prices and wider financial worries”.

“The concern is that we may be starting to see signs that rising inflation, weak pay growth and job insecurity among households are all starting to subdue consumer spending,” he said.

“Financial worries rose especially sharply among households where the main earner is employed in the private sector, with government workers perhaps feeling more secure in their jobs due to recent suggestions that government spending may soon start to rise as austerity is reined back. Private sector employees’ view on their future finances fell to the lowest for three years in October, boding ill for retail sales at the start of the fourth quarter.”