Over the last 10 years, e-commerce has witnessed meteoric growth. According to a recent study from The U.S. Census Bureau, e-commerce market share, as a percentage of all retail sales, has increased by almost 6%, equating to roughly $5 trillion in annual turnover. But, as in any industry, the bigger and faster the growth, the greater the number of obstacles to success. Here are the five key challenges likely to plague heads of e-commerce in the year ahead.
1. The Continued Rise of Mobile
It’s no secret that mobile shopping is on the rise. According to a recent study from PayPal, almost a third of European online shoppers purchase items on smartphones. And, as new software, security, and purchasing methods continue to break down traditional barriers, in 2018 this number is only expected to grow.
However, despite mobile significance, many retailers are still struggling to optimise their e-commerce offerings for an m-commerce market. And according to Adobe research, 53% of consumers still aren’t satisfied with retailer mobile sites.
2. The Emergence of Machine Learning
In 2017, machine learning became an attractive prospect within e-commerce, providing businesses with an opportunity to combine automation, personalisation and relevance to improve customer experience. But, as we progress into 2018, and despite tech giants Amazon, Google, and Microsoft all competing to make the technology more accessible, many organisations have been unable to advance.
Machine learning conjures up a variety of challenges. Most notably, that the vast majority of machine learning algorithms require vast data sets to produce tangible insight. This is no small hurdle – acquiring, using and hosting big data is not only expensive, but it can also take a long time to process and refine. While 2018 should see the continued growth of machine learning technology, for the majority of businesses, the lack of resources and expertise will be prohibitive to progress.
3. The Analysis of Data
It's long since the day when data analysis was an option, not a necessity. Since the emergence of the internet age, the growth of data has expanded at an exponential rate and, according to Forbes, more information has been created in the last two years than has ever existed before.
With such a surge in data creation, naturally there are more opportunities than ever to gain meaningful and actionable insight into consumer trends through careful analysis. However, gaining this insight is easier said than done. And, in 2018, organisations will find it harder than ever to cut through the noise and struggle to determine what data to gather, how to extrapolate the greatest value, and what decisions to make based on it.
4. The Introduction of GDPR
GDPR is an acronym that can strike fear into the heart of any organisation. The general data protection regulation is an EU initiative that is set to redefine the way in which brands communicate with their consumers and will incur significant penalties and sanctions if not upheld.
The GDPR directive is set to come into force May 25, 2018 – at which time fines for not adhering to its strict stipulations come into effect – but organisations should already be prepared for its inevitable arrival, and those who are yet to make the necessary changes are already way behind the curve.
5. The Choice of Technology Partnerships
E-commerce is an ever-evolving, fast-moving, competitive sector, and companies that fail to adapt, fail to survive. As technology has grown to offer organisations more opportunities to market themselves to prospective consumers, so too have e-commerce heads been forced to make a greater number of decisions on vendor partnerships.
During 2018, the sustained growth in digital technologies will continue to drive adaptation opportunities, and, more than ever, e-commerce managers will be forced to make choices that go beyond email, e-commerce and search platform relationships.
The Power of Search
The predicted trajectory for the e-commerce market is one of continued growth and prosperity. However, for heads of e-commerce to ride this wave, they must first successfully navigate a number of challenges.
To discover a first-hand example of how Loop54 was able to help fashion retailer Bubbleroom to overcome such obstacles and increase on-site conversion rate by 12% and revenue by 97%, download the case study.