2015 has been an impressive year for digital commerce, not least the record levels of online sales recorded over Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. However, the consumer never stands still, and ecommerce will need to keep innovating into 2016 in order to grow in value.

One thing that has become evidently clear is that digital and bricks-and-mortar are not separate channels; they serve each other in order to create satisfaction however the omnichannel shopper reaches them.

There are, though, distinct trends that will impact online retail over the next 12 months – and these include:

The true mobile-first revolution will arrive in 2016

Right now around 60-70 percent of shoppers are viewing products through a mobile device, and many of those who go on to purchase from a store will switch straight to bricks-and-mortar; missing desktop computers out of the retail journey altogether.

The industry has been talking a lot about mobile commerce, but the mobile-first revolution hasn’t started yet. In 2016, retailers will be looking at it very seriously, integrating their online and offline channels – particularly through apps, as even mobile optimized websites don’t have an intuitive look or feel. Retailers must utilize apps to enable true mobility.

Flash promotions will continue to dominate – even though they don’t drive profit

I started off this post by talking about the unprecedented online sales recorded over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend in 2015. The widespread appeal of these flash promotions will continue into 2016, but not because of their profitability.

By the time reduced margins have been accounted for, and returns have been factored in, events like Black Friday are not particularly profitable for retailers. However, companies have to participate because their competitors are doing it, and they need to maintain market share.

As a result, retailers will need to implement a tightly integrated promotional strategy around these flash sales, and invest in an integrated ecommerce platform, in order to maximize the revenue opportunities available.

Online customer experiences will require greater personalization

Across all channels, retailers will need to tailor customer interactions more closely to individual shoppers’ needs, and ecommerce is the ideal platform to drive this evolution. For example, proper segmentation of marketing campaigns is necessary to reach consumers with relevant messages, based on their purchasing and engagement history.

Many tier 1 and 2 retailers are well on this road to greater online personalization, however it shouldn’t just be the bigger retailers creating customized experiences. SMEs also need to be assessing and investing in the eCommerce technology that helps them nurture the value of their digital customers.

Revenue growth will come from current customer bases

There are three growth areas that retailers need to be focusing on – existing customers, competitors’ customers, and completely new customers. The most cost efficient option is to streamline performance and get value from existing customer base.

In 2016, use of business intelligence will play a significant role in helping retailers to increase the value of their existing customer base. This will feed directly into my previous point, understanding shopper behavior in order to segment and personalize outreach.

Read more about unlocking the value of business intelligence

These are just a few of the trends that will affect online retail in an omnichannel world over the next 12 months. In the New Year I will be discussing how shopper behavior will impact bricks-and-mortar retail in 2016 – check back during the first week of January for further insights.

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