The highly anticipated Internet Trends report from Mary Meeker was released last week. As usual, the partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers dropped a massive amount of data, 294 slides-worth, in a relatively brief presentation at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. There’s a lot to unpack about the future of the online economy in the report, and in particular, the future of e-commerce.
Following are seven slides from the presentation that outline some of the biggest trends retailers should watch in the coming years, such as the evolving roles search and social play in the shopping journey as well as the growing importance of data and personalization.
E-Commerce Growth Rate Rises While Physical Retail Slows
E-commerce now accounts for 13% of all retail sales. That share has more than doubled since 2007, reports Meeker, and shows no signs of slowing down. That echoes trends Sidecar has seen with our customers in Google Shopping. Last year, for example, retailers increased spend 43% in the channel and saw revenues increase 64%, according to our 2018 Google Shopping Benchmarks Report.
Although physical retail sales increased by about 3% year-over-year in 2017, Meeker predicts that that growth will continue to slow in the coming years. The lion’s share of retail expansion will be online and on rapidly growing channels like voice assistants.
Social Media Plays a Larger Role in Online Sales
Meeker reports that while platforms like Amazon and Google remain top destinations for consumers searching for specific products, social media is continuing to grow in importance for product discovery. The most popular social platform is Facebook, according to a survey of consumers aged 18-34. Some 78% of respondents indicated they discover products there, followed by Pinterest and Instagram, each at 59%.
According to the same survey, 55% of respondents, aged 18-65, purchased products after discovering them on social media. That’s a massive conversion rate, and it’s one of the reasons social media is becoming an intensely competitive channel for online advertisers, says Meeker.
As a whole, social media accounts for relatively small portion of e-commerce referrals, just 6%. That is up significantly, though, from 2015 when it represented just 2% of referrals. At this rate, Meeker anticipates social media will soon become an invaluable channel for retail marketers.
To take advantage of social revenue growth, retailers should double down on their mobile shopping experiences. More than half of Facebook users access the site exclusively from their mobile device. As consumers click through on Facebook ads, retailers need to make sure their mobile experience is seamless and engaging.
For landing pages, put CTAs above the fold and include benefit-oriented language. Simplify navigation with links to other related products or popular categories. And when possible, cut down on the number of steps and amount of information required for checkout. Autofill users’ billing and shipping information, especially if they have shopped on your site before.
Customer Lifetime Value Is the Top Optimization Metric
As the cost to acquire customers rises, due to increased competition across social and search, Meeker reports that customer lifetime value (CLV) has gained greater importance among retailers. 27% of retailers surveyed indicated that it is the top metric they consider when optimizing ad spend. Web traffic was the second most selected metric at 19%, followed by brand recognition at 18%.
Interestingly, multi-touch attribution was the least selected metric among survey respondents. In order to influence high-CLV shoppers, retail marketers will need to understand how these consumers engaged with different marketing efforts across channels. Sidecar anticipates that soon, multi-touch attribution will be table stakes for retailers looking to optimize online and offline marketing strategies.
Google Is Becoming More Amazon-Like & Amazon Is Becoming Google-Like
As competition for online retail dollars grows fierce, Amazon and Google have broadened their services. While Amazon began as a purely commerce and distribution platform it has expanded its online ad offering with the launch of its programmatic solution Amazon Advertising Platform in 2017. Likewise, Google, which began earning revenue as an online ad platform, has doubled down on commerce and is even investing in product delivery with the launch of Google Home Ordering in 2018.
Meeker doesn’t anticipate this trend will slow down anytime soon, meaning retailers will need to sharpen their strategies in both channels to maximize their reach.
Data & Personalization Are the Future of the Industry
Utility was key when e-commerce began to gain traction with consumers in 1990s. It was about having more options at your fingertips and saving yourself a trip to the store. But looking ahead, Meeker sees a future where retail is dominated by data and personalization. As more retailers crowd the search and social marketing landscape, having the data to customize the shopping experience at the individual level will be critical.
This future is already taking shape in China, Meeker notes, where 20% of all purchases are made online (the highest of any nation). Retailers seeking an advantage would be wise to follow the lead of China’s Alibaba, says Meeker. The retail giant collects data at every stage of the shopping journey, from search to delivery, and uses that information to better serve its customer base.
For more forward-looking insights from Meeker, check out the complete slide deck and presentation here.