Forrester Research Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru was on hand at the Retail Email Exchange symposium in San Diego last month to offer best practices for four current trends in the e-commerce space. Looking to debunk conventional wisdom, Mulpuru advised that things often turn out to be different than they initially appear. With that in mind, here are the four trends that Mulpuru addressed:
1. Mobile commerce will be enormous. The State of Retailing Online 2011, a Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research, found that 9 percent of surveyed retailers have a mobile strategy, 29 percent have one and are refining it and 34 percent are in the development stages. Only 9 percent of respondents said they had no mobile strategy at all.
"When you compare this to the same survey conducted last year, where 50 percent had no mobile strategy in place, it's a pretty remarkable shift in how much retailers have absolutely decided that this [mobile] is a place that they need to commit," said Mulpuru. "But the reality, however, is that the numbers for mobile commerce are still a little bit modest."
The study projects that mobile commerce will account for $34 billion in sales by 2016, but only 8 percent of total online sales (tablets excluded). What's more, a Bizrate Insights survey on mobile commerce found that only 14 percent of mobile users made a purchase via their mobile device in the fourth quarter of last year.
Therefore, Mulpuru advises, "It's the volume of multichannel activity that's the important number to watch." This includes tablets, which will fuel "couch commerce" in the years to come, she said. "We're no longer tethered to the desktop, but the ROI around mobile will be more nuanced than direct sales," Mulpuru said.
2. Amazon is the force to reckon with online. While Amazon's growth has outpaced virtually every other e-tailer out there, Mulpuru recalled the company began as sort of a "laughing stock" because it showed no signs of profitability. Since then Amazon's profitability has gone through the roof and it's now a force to be reckoned with — primarily due to Amazon Marketplace.