4 Trends That Will Dominate E-Commerce in 2013
Online retailers are riding high following a year of record sales. On Cyber Monday,consumers spent nearly $1.46 billion — a new single-day record. In 2012, we even saw some retailers leverage e-commerce to achieve year-over-year sales gains in the 300 percent to 400 percent range.
Although the growth in e-commerce can be partially attributed to consumer behaviors, a preference for web-based shopping experiences isn't the only factor driving the current boom in online sales. As consumers ramped up their online buying agendas, savvy retailers implemented tools and practices to support optimized e-commerce solutions.
In 2013, the most successful online retailers will continue to refine and improve their e-commerce infrastructure, aligning their technology with the trends that are reshaping today's e-commerce landscape
Current Trends in E-Commerce
Online retail is a moving target. As quickly as retailers catch up with the latest e-commerce trend, changes in technology and/or the marketplace present new opportunities that need to be explored. But at Dotcom Distribution, we're seeing at least four current trends that will have a lasting impact on e-commerce in 2013 and beyond.
- Scalable logistics and fulfillment. Explosive growth is the holy grail of retail sales. But on the back-end of the operation, many e-commerce providers are finding that fulfillment and logistics can't keep pace with customer demand, especially when it comes quickly and instantly. To more accurately calibrate fulfillment capabilities with sales benchmarks, online retailers are insisting that third-party logistics (3PL) providers demonstrate their ability to quickly scale for higher order volumes with no degredation in quality or speed.
- Real-time personalization. Personalization has become a marketplace essential. Consumers want the ability to tailor product details to their personal preferences in real time. As a result, online sellers are counting on 3PL providers or in-house teams to add personalized features (e.g., monogramming, personalized messaging and custom packaging) to orders without interrupting fulfillment and shipping schedules.
- Cross-channel experiences. Seamless, cross-channel shopping experiences are a must for retailers that want to connect with today's multichannel consumers. With more and more consumers performing shopping activities through a variety of channels (often simultaneously), retailers need to provide consistent experiences across a diverse range of touchpoints. This means logistics providers need to help retailers ensure an accurate view of real-time inventory, regardless of whether that inventory resides in a store or a warehouse responsible for e-commerce fulfillment. This will enable consumers to shop where and when they wish to shop, resulting in more consistent brand experiences throughout the buying cycle.
- Branded delivery. The brand shopping experience doesn't end until the package arrives at the customer's doorstep. To maintain consistency from online browsing to delivery, retailers are moving away from the standard brown box and using branded delivery packaging that features various shapes, colors and sizes. For multichannel brands, this allows for an experience that's similar to an in-store experience. For near-luxury brands, it can be the differentiator that sets them apart from the competition. Online retailers are also investing more in back-end warehouse options to improve shipping speed and convenience.
The best retail brands recognize that constant evolution is a requirement for successful e-commerce. Although the idea of once-and-for-all e-commerce infrastructure is a pipe dream, the incorporation of key trends and developments in e-commerce strategies can go a long way toward helping your brand stay ahead of the marketplace.
Doug Sternberg is the executive vice president of client strategy at Dotcom Distribution, a third-party fulfillment and logistics provider.