The Evolution of Ecommerce: Technology Trends That Will Change the Way We Shop

On 11 August 1994, Sting’s Ten Summoner’s Tales CD album became the very first online purchase, selling for £7.74. From humble beginnings, e-commerce has rocketed. The global ecommerce marketplace was estimated to be worth $1.5tn in 2014, up by 20% on 2013, and this growth is likely to continue into 2015 and beyond. With growth comes change, and in this blog we will look at some of the ecommerce trends that we believe will change the way brands and customers interact with one another online.

Continuing Shift to Mobile and Responsive Web Design

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UK shoppers are set to spend £14.95bn via mobile devices in 2015, according to research by RetailMeNot. This is an increase of 77.8% on £8.41bn in 2014. Mobile devices will account for 28.6% of all online purchases in the UK in 2015 (16.5% will be made on smartphones, while 12.1% will be made using tablets). The same report suggests that spending using a PC will grow just 2% over the same period. While 71.4% of online transactions in the UK will still be conducted via PC in 2015, it is clear that, with the growing popularity of mobile, the desktop’s grip on ecommerce is slipping.

A key driver behind this is, of course, the rise and rise of the smartphone, which has transformed the way we shop. Innovations such as improved mobile website optimisation ─ particularly on check-out and payment pages, responsive web design, improved connectivity and larger phone screens have made it easier for consumers to browse and buy products online and have eliminated some of the common problems associated with mobile transactions; for example, typing errors when using the touchscreen to enter search or payment information;  poor store layout and navigation; and product images being too small to make a purchase decision.

Social Commerce

In the US social commerce is expected to bring in $14bn in sales in 2015. 5% of total online retail revenue for the year will be attributable to the channel, which uses social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to assist in the buying and selling of products.

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74% of consumers rely on social networks to guide purchase decisions and 55% share their purchases on social media. With social commerce functionality rolling out across the major networks, 2015 could be the year of s-commerce ─ brands should make sure they are feeling sociable.

Wearable Technology

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Apple’s Apple Watch is the latest contender for dominance in the wearables space, which already includes innovations such as Google Glass, Pebble Steel and Sony’s Smartwatch 3. Wearable technology has exciting implications for ecommerce – not least because it means instant access to your customers. Brands will be able to send notifications, including price changes, promotions and marketing incentives, to consumers’ smart watches.  This information can also be tailored to the customer’s real-time location. With Apple Watch, wearers will also be able to pay for goods and services at bricks-and-mortar stores without the need to hand over their credit or debit card.

According to Yieldify, the main ecommerce application for smart watches will come from their ability to collect highly accurate, personal and applicable data on individuals. The challenge will be how to make use of this data to drive engagement and conversions – and doing so in a sensitive and thoughtful way.

The take-up of wearable technology is expected to happen much more quickly than was the case with mobile, according to Econsultancy. So brands should start thinking about their wearables strategy now.