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4 Trends that will Shape eCommerce in 2016

Posted by: | Posted on: | Posted in: Web Design and Development Guide

Online retail industry experienced phenomenal growth in the past few years. Today, there are multiple sites selling everything; from grocery to apparels and even high-end electronics. In fact, match-watchers like Forrester have projected an impressive sales figure for eCommerce stores, which is likely to cross the $400 billion mark, in next two years.

Present expansion of global markets & advancing technology has resulted into a dramatic shift within eCommerce industry. It has significantly affected consumer preferences, bringing about a remarkable change in the purchasing patterns.

This intense competition has compelled several brands to update their business models and overhaul their marketing and merchandising strategies. Many have quickly adapted to changing preference of modern day consumers, in order to stay afloat and get the largest share from the pie.

There are four major upcoming trends that we expect to have a strong influence on brand-customer relationships in 2016. Further, we have also shared some (useful) tips that enable online merchants to turn convert any challenge into an opportunity.

Tangible reality is the thing which will stay, and stay for long

Many shoppers, these days are getting lazy. They hardly bother to move from their couch, increasing the use of virtual reality applications which replicate in-store shopping experiences. Moreover; sometimes, the shoppers miss the experience of “touch and sense”, so conceptually, these new technology enables the customers to visualize products.

eCommerce Trends-2016

Take the online store of L’Oreal for an example – To eliminate inevitable guesswork that arises while shopping for cosmetics, L’Oreal launched a “Makeup Genius”, an app that consist four incredible features:

  • Apply makeup instantly on your own reflection in real-time
  • As you move and make expressions, makeup follows your face
  • Endless choice from an endless array of products and well-curated makeup looks
  • Try before you buy

This helps the shopper to imagine how a certain lipstick shade would look on their face. They can conveniently apply it along with numerous other products, using Makeup Genius app. Needless to say, in less than two years, this app received more than 14 million downloads. The bottom-line here is that technological evolution has raised consumer expectations. They will demand for innovative apps that augments online shopping experience.

How will you turn this trend into an opportunity?

Virtual reality technologies are still in the stage of infancy and have a long way to go. Since, the technology is still to attain maturity, it is difficult to assume what common and cost-effective use cases will suit a majority of online brands and their customers. Oculus Rift has started taking pre-orders, for their virtual reality headset, but it is too early to tell what may come of Facebook’s latest toy and its influence on eCommerce industry.

Thoughtfully generated and promoted content will be the need of the hour

For years, content marketing was regarded to be an IT thing. Its main focus was on SEO to bring the site in top search results. Several retailers followed this approach, which quite unfortunately resulted into several missed opportunities. They would not utilize the power of well-thought content marketing strategies to make the online store lucrative.

A lot of brands blindly produced (and reproduced) blog posts, images and videos. They never gave much consideration to the fact that they can effectively apply content to promote their brand. Consequently, many businesses, invested (and lost) millions into projects which failed to reach its intended audience!

However, marketers have realized the significance of effective distribution and promotion of content. Therefore, they are not only concentrating hard on creation of captivating content, but even on effective ways to distribute it to interested consumers and reinforce their brand.

In fact, a large number of online retailers are not hesitating to invest a considerable portion of their marketing budget for content creation, along with placing it on right platforms to reach intended audience.

eCommerce Trends 2016

How will you turn this trend into an opportunity?

While you go that extra mile to get interesting, inspirational and even relatable stories, make sure equal attention is paid on how to distribute and promote the content. Make a thorough research about various online platforms to ensure thoughtfully created content has reached its potential customers.

An offline store can boost your online sales

It feels special when a customer gets to touch, feel and even use the product, before they buy it. However, online shoppers miss this opportunity. Therefore, in order to provide a feel of “touch and sense” many online brands provide product description, customer feedbacks, high-definition images and even product videos.

However, some online brands feel going into offline mode, gives a boost to their sales and even helps them connect with the customers. Going by this line, Bonobos and Warby Parker, leading ecommerce players since 2013, set up a brick-and-mortar version of their online store. And within just a couple of years, they managed to expand their business with a dozen of more brick-and-mortar stores at multiple locations.

The advantages of opening an offline storefront are manifold. While foot traffic in busy areas, gives a boost to your sales, a visit to the store can provide enough reason for a hesitant online buyers to complete the purchase. Furthermore, customers also get an option to order products online and pick them up or exchange them in-store. This move proved that ecommerce products can sell well both, online and offline.

eCommerce Trends 2016

How will you turn this trend into an opportunity?

Though, this move from online to offline store has a number of benefits attached, it also involves some risks. Before, you decide to go offline, make sure you start with a pop-up shop with short-term lease to mitigate the risks. Choice of locations plays a crucial part, therefore, choose the location wisely. Go for an area/region which has high concentration of existing customers.

Consumable, easy-to-restock goods will help you achieve predicted sales

A couple of years back, several eCommerce stores were carried away by subscription-based business model. This business model allowed the shoppers to get a range of new and exciting products, for a flat fee. BeachMint, an online fashion brand was among the pioneers who set afloat this model. In fact, it managed to raise $75 million between 2010 and 2012.

This success culminated into many other eCommerce brands adopting this trend. However; not all ventures ended into a success. There were instances where subscription-model failed terribly. BeachMint, itself had to struggle to stay afloat.

Despite these failures, some brands like Dollar Shave Club and Naturebox managed to thrive. In 2015, they successfully raised $75 million and $30 million, respectively. This success gave hope to many new brands to emulate the way Dollar Shave Club and Naturebox did business.

Many established brands have found a simpler way to apply subscription sales, without reinventing their business model. For example Amazon, promotes “Subscribe and Save” option. With this, customers can opt-to receive monthly deliveries of their favorite products with discounts up to 15% off.

For many shoppers, this is just the right thing to do, convenient and savings with just click. For brands, this makes the perfect way to earn predictable revenue and even dramatically raise the customer lifetime value.

eCommerce Trends 2016

How will you turn this trend into an opportunity?

Stores can apply product subscriptions to their business at small scale. Businesses need to identify products, with help of Data processing and Business Intelligence solutions, which customers regularly order. Then, they can create offers and option to subscribe to a monthly delivery of the selected products, which arrives just before customer’s supply runs out.

Constantly changing trends decides the fate of any industry. The aforementioned eCommerce trends are believed to shape the eCommerce industry in 2016.

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About the Author:

Chirag Shivalker
Chirag Shivalker is one of the very few business writers with flair of social commentary through his technical writing. With A decade long experience in technology writing and trend analysis Chirag is an expert in technology and technological trends along with business writing. Technology in mind and words at will Chirag is an all-rounder who has established his writing capabilities’ in multiple technology disciplines.

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