5 Ecommerce Marketing Predictions for 2017

With the passing of each year comes change. The new year brings with it new trends, behaviors technologies and consumer demands. But most importantly it brings new opportunities. In the face of this change, retailers and ecommerce professionals are challenged not only with staying one step ahead of their competitors, but their customers as well.

To help retailers learn what to expect and how it could affect their business, we’ve compiled 5 eCommerce Marketing Predictions for 2017.

  1. AI and Deep Learning Make True 1:1 Marketing and Unified Touchpoints a Reality.
    eCommerce continued to outpace offline purchases this holiday season. In 2017 it will place an increased importance on creating seamless cross-channel customer experiences. In fact, research analyst firm Forrester predicts that 58 percent of sales will be driven digitally by 2020. This is a critical indication that retailers must unify the customer experience and understand each customer’s journey and touchpoints.To succeed at delivering next-generation individualized experiences for customers, marketers will embrace AI powered by deep learning algorithms, which unifies and analyzes the data around each individual shopper’s touchpoints. AI and deep learning provide a means of individualizing each customer interaction at a scale unattainable by more manual or rules-based solutions – in real time. Without these technologies, the dream of true 1:1 marketing is fundamentally impossible.
  2. 2017 Sounds the Death Knell for Audience Segmentation.
    Segmentation has been a great way to simplify and understand the value personalization can bring to a brand. But in order to create the truly personalized experience customers crave, brands need to be able to scale this experience at a 1:1 level with each individual customer. This is only possible through a combination of individual shopper insights, product intelligence and deep learning algorithms.Relevance is king in the new digital economy. It’s simply not enough to deliver slightly personalized customer experiences; customers don’t want to be treated like segments. They want to be celebrated as individuals. Brands that can reflect each individual customer’s preferences and intent across every shopping experience will boost performance KPIs – and, more importantly – build brand loyalty and affinity. Customer experiences need to be agile, responsive, intelligent and contextually relevant at each moment of interaction.
  3. Goodbye Black Friday and Cyber Monday; Hello Cyber Months.
    One thing is clear from this year’s holiday performance, online is no longer an additional channel to be considered; it’s THE channel to consider and should be central to retailer’s holiday strategies in 2017. Black Friday and Cyber Monday will no longer signal the start of the holiday shopping season. Shoppers have moved online and the “Black Friday effect” of extreme discounts has spread across the months of November and December – creating a season of “Cyber Months.”The proliferation of mobile devices has also contributed to the gradual extension of the season. Mobile devices have ushered in an era of “couch commerce” – making it easier for consumers to take advantage of seasonal deals without having to wait in long lines and fight crowds at physical stores. The good news about these emerging “cyber months” for retailers is that now more than ever they have the tools to predict customer needs and speed their path to purchase. The more brands can use data and analytics to interpret the intent and preferences of each individual consumer, the less reliant they have to be on big, single-day promotions.
  4. Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots will Reshape Customer Engagement.
    2017 will find many consumers interacting with chatbots for the first time. The increased adoption and integration of virtual assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana represent more than an advancement in voice engagement; they represent the future of customer engagement. A future where consumers can use any combination of voice, images and unique queries to naturally interact with a brand.These fully automated virtual agents will answer shoppers questions and act as the first point of contact with the brand. Chatbots will soon become as commonplace as automated phone agents, only more interactive and intelligent.
  5. Traditional Retailers Adopt Amazon’s Virtual Inventory Strategy to Fulfill Orders.
    With eCommerce capabilities entrenched on both desktop and mobile devices, implementing a virtual inventory across retail floors, back rooms and warehouses is a high priority for retailers in 2017. In 2016 alone, a number of traditional retailers ranging from Walgreens to Walmart announced they were significantly scaling down their brick-and-mortar locations. In order to find the perfect balance of in-store and online availability, retailers need to move products between locations quickly. This minimizes overages and enhances product access. Through virtual inventory, retailers will be able to more effectively fulfill as many purchase orders as possible, in the preferred manner of each individual customer.
Matt Helmke

Matt is the senior director of communications and content at Reflektion. He’s led global communications, content and brand strategy programs for high-profile, culture-shifting Fortune 500 business divisions, as well as innovative, early-stage startups. The common thread running through his career is a passion for disruptive technologies focused on improving and redefining end-user experiences. Outside of technology, his passions include his family, music, bourbon, craft beers, fishing and swimming… but not all at once.