Expert Roundtable: E-Commerce Predictions for 2017

By EXCLUSIVE Insights Team
TOPICSfeatured, Insights, Mobile, Organic Search, Paid Search, Product Ads

We asked the experts, and the results are in. From new trends in AdWords to data-driven analysis of the biggest online shopping days, we’ve uncovered some of the most significant e-commerce trends and predictions likely to take hold this year. Here’s what to expect from e-commerce in 2017.

AdWords

According to EXCLUSIVE’s Vice President of Marketing Science Nik Rajpal, despite many years of dissuading users to engage in auto-bidding, Google’s auto-bidding system will become bigger, better and more important.

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Additionally, according to Matt Umbro, the Associate Director of Services, Search at Hanapin Marketing and founder of PPCChat, 2017’s paid search ads will continue to look more and more like Google’s organic search ads. Umbro noted that many of 2016’s changes to paid ads blurred the lines between organic and paid listings — with the primary differentiator being the “Ad” tag — and this year the two will become all the more analogous.

Customer Satisfaction

Another thing to look out for in 2017: marketers will continue to play to consumers’ desire for instant gratification. The experts say that not only will things like free shipping and expedited delivery become even more ubiquitous, but that copycats of Amazon’s One-Click checkout and other simple checkout systems will become the norm. Staples E-Commerce Product Manager Scott Canney noted that the One-Click patent will expire in 2017, which will potentially allow many to try their hand at similar checkout designs.

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What’s more, E-Commerce Business Consultant Darshit Parmar noted that same-day delivery options gained major traction in 2016, and he doesn’t expect that trend to die down this year.

“Companies who offered [same-day delivery] saw more purchases than others, which means that this strategy works well when you want to beat your competitors,” Parmar said.

He also noted that shoppers increasingly preferred using online wallets — PayPal, Visa Checkout, Google Wallet and others — to make purchases.

New Channels

The roundtable agrees that marketers must take advantage of some new selling channels, not just Google. According to Rajpal, sellers will need to broaden their reach to channels like Amazon, YouTube and Facebook Paid.

Photo by jonobacon

“Fashion brands, resellers and arbitrage sellers will turn to sell on Amazon as users adapt their shopping habits to buy more clothing through this ubiquitous marketplace,” he said.

For more insights on what to expect from e-commerce this year, read the entire roundtable:

Nik Rajpal, VP of Marketing Sciences at EXCLUSIVE

  • Amazon Fashion – Fashion brands, resellers and arbitrage sellers will turn to sell on Amazon as users adapt their shopping habits to buy more clothing through this ubiquitous marketplace.
  • Private Sellers Get Bold – The coveted relationship between brands and resellers has put invisible handcuffs on private sellers when it comes to Amazon, Google Shopping and other “aggressive” marketing channels. These walls will come down throughout 2017 and brands will choose to become lean, mean, direct-to-consumer machines.
  • Facebook Paid – For online retailers who have been antsy to do targeted push marketing, Facebook’s wealth of personal-info-data has finally been matched by a paid advertising platform with optimization-heavy controls, intelligent audience expansion algorithms and more. Online retailers (private sellers and novel sellers especially) will use this powerful engine to start pushing their message more aggressively to hyper-targeted Facebook users.
  • New Era of AdWords – After years of dissuading advertisers from using auto-bidding systems (through click-cost penalties), Google will make a major push to use its behemoth data engine to replace, and dramatically improve upon, what auto-bidding systems claim to do. In this new era, Dynamic Search Ads will become more powerful and more commonly used; human management will take an even greater lead in driving performance, and coordination across all Google properties (Display, Gmail, YouTube) will become the new norm.

Matt Umbro, Associate Director of Services, Search at Hanapin Marketing and founder of PPCChat

2016 saw paid search listings become more organic. The right side ads were removed and expanded text ads were introduced. With double headlines, paid search ads are now roughly the same character length as organic page titles. In addition, the 80-character paid search description is more in line with an organic meta description. With ad extensions like sitelinks, structured snippets and ratings, the main differentiator between paid and organic listings is the simple “Ad” label. Anecdotally, I believe users trust the organic listings more and are sometimes hesitant to click the paid ads. With all of the adjustments to paid search ads, the differences between the two ad types are fewer than ever. In 2017, we’ll continue to see this trend of paid search ads looking more like organic listings.

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We’ll also see increased interaction with paid search ads as they become more dynamic. This year, message extensions were released, which allow potential customers to have the company text them instead of a call or email. We saw price extensions become swipeable, giving searchers the ability to see more product/service offerings before clicking an ad. Ads will continue to give searchers more options before clicking in order to provide better user experiences.

Scott Canney, E-Commerce Product Manager at Staples

I would say expedited shipping and instant gratification will become increasingly important in 2017. We’ve already seen a huge shift in 2016 with major e-commerce sites investing heavily in omni-channel programs to expedite delivery or offer in-store pickup. Companies like Uber and Deliv continue to expand their same-day delivery services in major metropolitan areas as well. For any e-commerce retailer to remain relevant, it will be critical for them to offer expedited shipping services at a low price point to customers, all while controlling its own costs. Amazon’s One-Click patent also expires in 2017, so I would expect many e-commerce sites to begin to explore how they can further improve their site’s checkout experience.

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Darshit Parmar, E-Commerce Business Consultant

Well, the web world saw the tsunami of e-commerce sales that took place on the big shopping days including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving. E-commerce giant M-Connect Media analyzed the statistics to find out some interesting facts and ideas for the future. I came up with some fascinating facts that can be helpful in planning e-commerce marketing and sales in 2017.

  • Mobile Market: There is no denying the magic that mobile devices spell on online sales. This year’s Black Friday was no exception, as it was observed that 48 percent of people bought things online when compared to 40 percent in 2015. This sharp increase in the number of buyers suggests that e-commerce websites need a mobile-optimized site in order to attract customers that want to make purchases through mobile devices.

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  • Same-Day Delivery: One of the best business strategies applied by many e-commerce companies was same-day order delivery. This idea has worked wonders as it attracted many customers that wanted to see their newly bought products in-hand on the same day of the purchase. Companies that offered this saw more purchases than others, which means that this strategy works well when you want to beat your competitors.
Featured photo by justyre
Photo by Anoka County Library 
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