Chatbots, Omni channel and Content Shock: The trends that will shape ecommerce in 2017

eCommerce continues to grow at an impressive rate. Total global eCommerce sales are expected to go from $1.4 trillion just two years ago to 2.4 trillion in 2017- a trillion dollars worth of growth is not to sniffed at! In fact, it’s bigger than the entire economy of Sweden or Saudi Arabia!

But that doesn’t mean eCommerce is getting any easier- in fact in quite the reverse. With more and more eCommerce sites competing for businesses- and existing bricks and mortar retailers starting to wise up and optimize their eCommerce divisions, the competition is only going to increase. What worked in 2016 will deliver less than it used to in 2017, and what worked in 2014 might no longer give any results at all.

To prevent your eCommerce business falling behind, you need to stay abreast of the honest new eCommerce trends and consider how you can intergrade them into your marketing strategies in 2017.

Here I will detail three of the most crucial trends that you’ll come across in 2017, ones that you can start doing something about today.


Let's start with one of the hottest trends in eCommerce right now, that’s set to grow massively in 2017: Chatbots. Interesting fact- the first ever Chatbot was created as a joke by computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum. He wrote the code in 1966 to run on IBM tape drives He created it as a therapist to poke some fun at the profession, but was surprised to find it was extremely popular. He named the chatbot Eliza and you can talk to it today!

Retro 1960s chatbots aside, in this millennium chatbots have been fairly unknown until becoming extremely popular recently . The below chart from Google Trends shows the explosion in search interest in ‘chatbots’ in April of this year, and a general trend towards their greater interest over the course of 2016.


Chatbots are still developing in terms of their capabilities, and at the moment can only do a few relatively simple tasks. But as AI technologies are becoming increasingly advanced this is starting to change. In September 2016 Facebook added in-app purchase functionality to its messenger platform to allow bots to complete purchases for users entirely within the platform. This kind of ability will transition from being a novel feature today too soon being the default for all manner of businesses.

Facebook has recently announced new functionality to allow for chatbot analytics in it’s Facebook messenger platform, which shows how the biggest tech companies are recognizing chat bots as one of the key trends that will be used my marketers in the next few years.

Omni-Channel: Mobile dominates traffic but not revenue.

If you ask most eCommerce marketers what will be the biggest trend of the year in any of the past four years, you will have almost always got the same answer: Mobile.

Mobile is now moving from being an exciting new breakthrough technology, and just becoming the norm. Mobile now makes up over 59% of eCommerce sessions.

But it may surprise you that a very big chunk of customers still isn't happy with purchasing on a mobile device. Over half prefer purchasing on a PC, and many have privacy and security worries.

As you can see from the chart below, although mobile is making up a big chunk of sessions, only one in five actually compete for purchases on a smartphone.


Given mobile users aren’t converting at anything like the rate of desktop, does that mean marketers can pay less attention to mobile users?

Nope. What it does mean is people are browsing on mobiles and making critical decisions about purchasing, and then going to check out on desktops because it’s easier.  You need to focus on making it easy for customers to switch between devices and pick up where they left off.

Content Shock

Mark Schaefer came up with the term content shock a few years ago to describe the fact that as the amount of content grows exponentially, but the amount of viewer attention only grows linearly or even plateaus, there will be a huge amount of content that doesn’t get attention and doesn’t work.



There is no way around the merciless logic of content shock, it just means your content is going to have to be better to stand out in a sea of content. Relentlessly targeting an extremely specific niche that no one else has previously tackled is also a good way around the content shock problem.  The content shock will increasingly come to dominate marketing success (or failure) in 2017.

Make sure your plan involves a way to ameliorate it.

Now you know the top 3 hottest eCommerce trends you’ll have to deal with in 2017, you can start working them into your marketing plans.

Author Bio: Robert Allen is a Digital Marketing Executive and Blog Editor for Smart Insights

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