Today the Official Merchant Services Blog brings you some predictions for this holiday season. In particular, there are six key trends to watch. Over the last 12 months the E-commerce sector has rallied against challenging economic conditions and driven innovation in business and shopping models. A flurry of technical innovations, most notably the emergence and rapid adoption of Smart phone and Tablet technology, has transformed the shopper seller relationship. Fueled by mobile technology, E-commerce growth shows no sign of stopping. JP Morgan estimates that global E-commerce revenue will hit $963 billion next year.
1.) T-Commerce and M-Commerce – In 2011 web enabled mobile devices transformed E-commerce, opening up a new 24/7 channel to the consumer and creating innovative new ways to engage them, from QR codes to location based offers. In 2012 m-commerce will continue to gather momentum and could represent about 12% of e-commerce sales this holiday season, but it is T-commerce that’s particularly exciting. The rich functionality of the tablet shifts the traditionally transactional and bargain hunting online experience into a virtual store experience, making the web an almost tactile experience. Better still, mobile commerce is not exclusively for big brands with big budgets. Merchants large and small can harness the mobile channel without incurring heavy infrastructure costs. Smart mobile web devices are estimated to overtake the total number of PC’s in use, exceeding 1.8 billion, by 2013. With 1.8 billion consumers just a click away this is too big an opportunity for retailers to miss.
2.) Bricks and mortar in the cloud – The boundaries between online and offline worlds are becoming increasingly blurred, as retailers fuse their digital and real-world offerings. Barcode scanning services such as ShopSavvy help users find the best deal, by allowing them to scan the barcode and search for better offers online. However, the challenge with these applications is they fail to reward the store whose display instigated the purchase.
3.) Shopping with your social network – Getting a second opinion before committing to a purchase is nothing new, but now rather than taking a friend shopping you can take your entire social network with you. Retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the power of “the fan” and social will form an integral part of the E-commerce evolution in 2012. Retailers are now using social media outreach not just for brand awareness, but for product development and customer service too.
4.) Borderless shopping communities – 2012 will see the rise of the local global e-marketplace. In 2012, international marketplace models will provide sellers of all sizes around the world with the opportunity to expand their operations internationally, without the cost intensive outlay traditionally associated with establishing local delivery models, storage facilities etc. Sellers will be able to dabble in international shopping communities and dedicate resources based on real world demand. This will open up opportunities with emerging markets, such as China, India and Brazil.
5.) Flexible, Local shipping models – According to a report by Forrester in January 2011, shipping issues were one of the most common reasons for cart abandonment in Europe. It’s true that the Internet has created a global marketplace, but local market shopping preferences must be taken into account. In 2012, flexible shopping models will be vital for growth.
6. ) Online shopping gets personal – The old adage “Information is power” takes on new meaning in 2012 as retailers seek to capture the attention spans of information savvy internet shoppers. Today’s online retailers can acquire huge volumes of data on both their potential and existing customers based on user browsing habits. In 2012 data exchange between retailers and social networks will begin to provide solid business models for social platforms and offer new insights into the mind of the shopper. What matters most to retailers however is how their marketing teams translate this wealth of data into meaningful and timely communications with customers. To engage consumers in 2012 and beyond, retailers must learn how to harness user specific data to provide timely, personalized and relevant communications.
Host Merchant Services provides e-commerce solutions to our merchants that let them take payments smoothly and efficiently. We can help you navigate through the busy bustle of holiday shopping and find the transaction processing services that serve you best. The Official Merchant Services Blog will also continue to provide insight on how merchants can maximize these opportunities.