Ecommerce continually grows at a rate faster than most of us can keep up with; competition is becoming greater, which inevitably means the battle to win the consumer is never-ending. Customers are increasingly hard to win, easier to lose and more difficult to please. In order to keep in line with the industry leaders, you need to put your best foot forward and keep up with relevant advances, whilst integrating them into your own way of working. The trends of 2017 are just the beginning of what’s to come and the key to success for ecommerce in the year ahead.

A planned approach is essential and whilst some trends can be approached in a reactive way, most of these activities will do well to be planned into your yearly program from the start.

Digital payment

Over recent years we've seen more and more businesses transition into the realm of digital payment, moving beyond simple ecommerce to one-touch, mobile-based payments and the likes. In 2017, this movement is set to soar, with many apps becoming the first point of call for a quick transaction. The obvious leaders in the space are Apple Pay, PayPal and Amazon Pay; who introduced many digital payment methods using smartphones, watches and cards to complete contactless payments. This trend is expected to expand vastly this year, with more people comfortably integrating new payment ways into their daily lives.

Leaders in alternative digital payments are Starbucks and Amazon. Starbucks’ mobile app is a leader in revolutionising the way consumers pay for their coffee, with a streamlined payment system, as well as an added loyalty system; they’ve created a glorified digital loyalty card with added bonuses. With one tap on their app and you can access your Starbucks' card, paying for your order, checking your balance and adding funds to your card. You can also send gift cards, track rewards and place a customised order in advance with mobile order & pay; making the feat of the 8am coffee run that little more bearable. The obvious added benefits for the coffee giant are access to customer behaviour, to aid any further improvements they can make to an already revolutionary app. With such notable successes in  this space, we can safely expect to see many more loyalty and payment apps rolling out over the year.

Amazon has broken into the realm of digital payment in a completely new and somewhat backwards, yet innovative, way. Recently opening their first brick-and-mortar supermarket, without lines and checkout counters, bringing a whole new meaning to competition within the original leaders of the supermarket chains. Using sensors to detect the items that have been picked off shelves and sending the bill directly to their personal Amazon account. This is a brave move from Amazon who recognise that their ecommerce model isn’t necessarily the leading site for every product. Providing that their first store is successful, this could be a peek into the future of high street retail. The novelty factor of the whole experience is definitely one that will keep consumers coming in to trial it out.

Speedier and speedier delivery

Last year saw same-day delivery take precedent in the ecommerce world. Whist the dreams of mass drone delivery are still relatively distant, the ever innovative (and aforementioned) leader, Amazon has set the standards high with their delivery services. Amazon Prime offers a guaranteed next day delivery service and a hassle free return process, with same day delivery also available in select cities between particular times. With many consumers turning to the internet for a quick fix when it comes to retail needs, the demand for speedy delivery is at it’s highest ever, with many consumers more than willing to pay extra charges to attain their goods ASAP. Not satisfied with the same or next day, Amazon has now launched Amazon Prime Now, which offers an astonishing one-hour delivery service, which, given you spend over a certain amount, does not carry any surplus charge (beyond your Prime membership). This year, will see many ecommerce sites upping their game to compete with the best, as well as a rise in local drop-off points for online deliveries.

Another company leading the way with innovation in the delivery space is Uber, who have introduced both UberEats and UberRush, to keep up with the demand from their consumers. UberEats enters the crowded food delivery market by guaranteeing under 30-minute delivery time, to any destination, e.g. a burrito on London Bridge. Whilst UberRush has been introduced as the go-to delivery service for any number of goods, whether it be flowers, clothes or food. Currently available in the USA only, it’s set to be a worldwide competitor, offering same day delivery at any time, that can be tracked from shop to home.

Mobile vs Desktop

The ever-regurgitated trend that shows no sign of slowing down. The march of mobile technology means this trend is increasingly on the rise year by year, with mobile traffic consistently overtaking desktop for the past couple of years; a growth that has been driven by larger device screens and much improved mobile search. With this in mind, it’s now more important than ever to consider the mobile experience first. Optimising your site to fit mobile is no longer an option, it's a necessity.

Personalisation

Due to the increasing amount of data available to companies, the act of personalisation on content, ads, services and products is growing at unprecedented rates. Showing the right ads to the right people at the optimum time across the web and social networks has never been so personal (we've all been stalked by that flight or pair of boots we'd looked at last week). Devices have hugely sophisticated learning technology, hell-bent on not just retaining facts about us, but on learning how they can better serve our needs (just look at Amazon Echo). Contextual search has never been so insightful. With the use of artificial intelligence and highly targeted campaigns based on consumer behaviour, circumstances and previous online experiences, we can expect to see continuing developments in this area. Expect to see personalisation from businesses both big and small in the coming year.

With these just some of the areas set to light up the ecommerce world as the year unfolds, expect to see innovative, creative and impressive ideas from the market leaders, with many smaller business pulling through and surprising consumers in delightful new ways. Digital... oh the possibilities!