2017 Predictions Part 1: Rethinking Retail with B2B, Mobile, International & Digital Transformation

January 11, 2017

by: Marketing Team, Magento
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On the eve of the new year, we asked our partners to reflect on the trends they see gathering momentum in 2017. Notable areas of concensus include accelerating merchant interest in B2B ecommerce, a continued focus on optimizing shoppers experiences on mobile, international expansion, and retailers rethinking the role of physical stores. Here’s a roundup of their thoughts:

Integrated B2B & B2C

“More and more mid-market customers want to see both customer paths in one instance, which makes their overall process more efficient.” (Martina England, Corra)

"[We] see B2B online retailing as an on-going trend that will be gaining a lot more steam in the coming year. With the B2B eCommerce market approaching $1 trillion dollars according to Forbes, even mid-market retailers are looking for an agile way to break into this space." (Karah Finan, Web Solutions NYC)

Mobile

“We often think of "mobile" as being a single type of device, but the fact is that there is a lot of diversity in experience and viewport. In 2017, differences across all the sizes of smartphones are going to drive a change in the way we think about design and UX. If we look at a cross section of the Corra client base, we can see variances of 70% or more in conversion and order values across the various "mobile" device sizes. (Van Schlichting, Corra)

“One trend we see picking up greater momentum in 2017 is the further development of progressive web. To that end, we will be pushing out essentially 3 different PWA trending posts coming out in Q1 next year.” (Caleb F. Bryant, Gorilla)

Accelerating Pace of International Expansion

“Brands & companies put more and more focus on defining a global eCommerce model with increasing efforts of localization at the country level.” (Florian Legendre, Bluecom)

“Retailers expanding into international markets has been increasing over the last few years anyway, but in the UK, the uncertainty around Brexit will see brands, in particular, look to expand into additional markets with a view to mitigating risk of any negative terms imposed by the European Union.” (Alex Shepherd, Corra)

"Even though the general idea of a marketplace is engrained in the footholds of the Internet, it has been constantly evolving. The Facebook Marketplace is living proof of it and could become the slightly overwhelming menace messaging service for places such as Craigslist, Freeads, and Gumtree. Also, in the eCommerce industry, it is very common to see popular brands make the move towards marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Rakuten, and many others. In the last year alone, the number of offers in the fashion category on Amazon increased by a whole 87%, so there is no escaping this escalating trend. This means, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, there is no reason to forfeit access to the millions of global users who are ready to buy. Together with clients, we at Divante have tested this model and observed up to 80% of income to come from this source.” (Krzysztof Podeszwa, Divante)

Customer Experience Design

“Flexibility is the way. We heard a lot about the end of physical stores in 2016, but we believe that stores, online and offline, have to evolve with a particular focus on flexibility. Retailers need flexibility in their labour and in particular they need flexibility in the store formats: popup stores, mobile stores, and new store formats. There will be an increase in physical presence with non-traditional formats; we will see more entertainment hubs or social destinations where shoppers can explore and test products that they see online. Big eCommerce retailers have already started to create physical stores for testing product and they have already started to give life to real partnerships with local stores to enable shoppers to pick up their orders. The convergence of physical and digital worlds is going faster, with a particular focus on flexibility. (Marco Dalla LiberaAlpenite)

“The trend toward in-app browsers will create challenges on the technical and experience front. Instead of developing to the ‘big 4’ browsers, we will find that the actual experience of customers can vary far more than in the past. Retailers who are keeping a close eye on their analytics and tools like hotjar recordings will stay ahead of this curve.”  (Rachel Weir, Corra)

“Here at Pixafy, we’re working to incorporate a shift towards social commerce. Being where the customer spends time (social media) is critical, and not having to leave the channel offers the game-changing ‘transact anywhere’ capability retailers are looking for. (Aleza Shapiro, Pixafy)

 “‘Less text, more images’ seems to be the overall design trend for eCommerce sites, giving the consumer less content to worry about and more visual appeal of the product and associated lifestyle. Higher quality images can also help some retailers drive down returns by better representing the product from the outset. (Williams Commerce)

“Voice enabled commerce will spur a “voice first” (a la mobile-first) design direction for a lot of major brands. Starbucks is already heading that direction, and Amazon had Alexa-only offers and products this past Cyber week: expect more brands to create their own voice assistants, and some will do it poorly. This could be an inflection point of mass adoption or fatigue.” (Phillip Jackson, Something Digital)