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4 Must-Follow E-Commerce Trends Discussed at Shop.org 2015

Steve Tutelman

Now that the dust has settled from Shop.org 2015 and many of us are, perhaps reluctantly, back at our desks (we hate departing Philly, too), it’s a good time to catch our breath and reflect on takeaways from the show.

From where we sat, Shop.org 2015 brought to light many of the biggest issues in e-commerce — from mobile marketing to local search to cross-channel attribution and beyond. Here’s a recap of what we heard from Shop.org attendees about what’s working in their businesses and what’s keeping them up at night.

E-Commerce Marketers Recognize the Importance of Mobile Traffic, but Struggle to Move Forward

If your mobile strategy is less than effective, you’re not alone. Many Shop.org attendees shared their mobile pain. Consumers spend 51 percent of their digital media time on mobile devices, versus 42 percent on their desktop or laptop, according to an eMarketer study. Yet 75 percent of online sales still come from desktops and laptops. Several reasons continue to be at play.

  1. Many retailers lack a tailored mobile site: Only 26 percent of retailers worldwide have piloted or implemented a mobile-responsive website, according to a 2015 poll by Retail Systems Research.
  2. Consumers are uncomfortable with mobile payment: An MEF Global survey found that 49 percent of consumers say “lack of trust” limits the number of payment apps and mobile wallet services they use.
  3. Consumers treat their mobile devices as research tools, not buying tools: When looking to buy something, only 13 percent of consumers purchase on their mobile device, according to a 2015 TimeTrade report. But half of consumers are using mobile devices to research products.

Converting mobile traffic is an elusive nut to crack, and it will undoubtedly be a primary business initiative in 2016.

Local Search Marketing is Gaining a Stronger Foothold

Local search came up several times in our Shop.org conversations. Folks from Google and Sidecar presented at our “Google Shopping Live” event on day one of Shop.org. Google shared insights into some forthcoming Shopping features, including the Google Now in-store card.

“A lot of people think locally now on their phone,” said Melissa Campanelli, Editor-in-Chief/Content Director for Total Retail, at the event. “They expect when they shop that the inventory they see online is going to be in the store.”

We also talked to e-commerce marketers at the event who said they are honing their local inventory ad strategies for Holiday 2015 — and rightly so. Google announced this year that it will prioritize showing local inventory ads over shopping ads on local intent shopping queries, i.e., “tennis racquets near me.” Earlier this year Google reported that search interest in “near me” has increased 34 times since 2011 and nearly doubled since last year.

Cross-Channel Attribution Continues to Be a Thorn in Retailers’ Sides

Cross-channel attribution remains a universal challenge for retailers. Some told us about the difficulty in attributing the right portion of their in-store sales to local inventory ads. Others vouched for the shortcomings of last-click attribution and the difficulty around properly weighting channels, especially in the omnichannel era.

Forrester reported in a 2014 study that 67 percent of marketers said attribution helps them make smarter marketing and media decisions, but only 31 percent of marketers use attribution. Based on our conversations, retailers continue to believe in the value of increasing the sophistication of their attribution models.

While they’re facing technological hurdles to making those models a reality, retailers understand the importance — and imperative — of using an attribution model that accurately determines the drivers of customer acquisition and revenue.

The Future of E-Commerce is About Non-Traditional Commerce

Consumers are no longer satisfied with simply ordering a product online and having it shipped to them. They are demanding new ways to shop, pay, and communicate with retailers. This shift is the biggest trend that Campanelli is tracking at this year’s Shop.org conference — non-traditional commerce.

“It’s about different kinds of models — payment models, subscription models — and putting companies like Uber, Airbnb, and crowdsourced types of companies into the commerce space,” Campanelli told us.

Case in point: Just this week Uber announced it is making its UberRUSH merchant delivery service an official part of its offerings after a year-long pilot in New York City. Uber is partnering with local businesses in NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as with several major e-commerce platforms to provide deliveries to consumers in “minutes,” according to an Uber blog post.

What were your impressions from Shop.org this year? What do you think will be the biggest challenges in e-commerce in 2016?

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