Predicting eCommerce Trends
We're just days away from the start of 2017, so it makes sense that we should start making guesses about what 2017 will bring with it, and nothing is more interesting than trying to predict trends in eCommerce.
If you hadn't heard already, WooCommerce now powers 42% of all of the internet's online stores. That represents healthy growth over the last year—with both Magento and osCommerce feeling the loss among the top 1MM sites.
So I don't have trouble predicting that WooCommerce will continue to grow. But beyond that, it's pretty challenging to guess not only the trend, but it's timing.
Years ago I wondered out loud, to several friends, why the most logical of eCommerce dynamics still wasn't a trend. I just assumed that everyone would want to place an order online, and then go to the store and pick it up. No shipping (this was more than 10 years ago).
For the first time since my prediction, we finally saw people doing this—with Apple, with Best Buy and more. Finally!
So like I said, predicting a trend is tough. Timing it right—impossible!
But everyone does it, so I'm going to make my own prediction as well.
First, the technology we have already
Before I make my prediction (or recommendation), let's talk about what we know to be true already—particularly when it comes to technology.
Have you heard of Autopilot? Some people think of it as marketing automation, but I don't put it exactly in that category. What about Drip? They're clearly marketing automation—but with a huge behavioral bent. And when you connect Drip to Textiful, you end up with the same kind of features I'm talking about in Autopilot.
What I'm talking about is customer journey and behavioral monitoring combined with text messages.
This is stuff that exists already.
You know what else we have? We have URL coupon codes that work with WooCommerce.
What that means is that you can create coupons and tie them to products and a URL so that clicking on that url not only adds the product to your cart, but also applies a coupon.
Think about this for a second… because you'll soon see my prediction isn't all that crazy. It's there. We just haven't put it to work for us yet.
My Prediction: Text Messaging & eCommerce
When it comes to what I think will be big in 2017, especially in eCommerce, my answer is push notification automation. And before I get into it and what it means and why I think this is key, let's first talk about you and your friends.
I have a buddy who I see every few weeks or months. It kind of depends because of my travel schedule and the way we plan our time hanging out.
Neither of us pull out our calendars and plan a movie night 6 weeks in advance. That's not how we work.
Instead, every now and then, when we think about it, one of us texts the other. It normally looks like this:
You in town?
Ok, was going to see if you wanted to see a movie.
Dang, would have been cool. I get back Monday.
We're heading out of town Monday. But back Thurs.
Cool, let's chat then. Maybe connect w/ families on Sat.
The first think you realize is that we're old. Very few abbreviations and no emoji.
The second thing you notice is that we're both fairly opportunistic, with little guilt, and a simple facility for planning time together.
Isn't this how many people work?
Most of my friends don't share their google calendar with me to help us figure out when we'll see Rogue One together.
Why is this important?
- Because opportunistic text messages feel natural.
- Because opportunistic text messages may still be an offer but they don't feel like ads.
- Because opportunistic text messages are easy to react to, or ignore.
This is why I think connecting text messages with eCommerce makes so much sense.
Now, you're probably thinking—isn't this a trend already? Text messaging and eCommerce? I've already gotten texts from different stores. What's the big deal?
You can't go predicting things that have already happened.
I get it, so let's go further.
Push Notification Automation
What I'm really predicting is the combination of WooCommerce and Autopilot. I'm talking about behavioral triggers that drive push notifications in an automated way.
And when it comes to eCommerce and WooCommerce, we're not seeing a lot of that yet. But I think we will. I think 2017 will be the year.
Let's take my friend Carey Nieuwhof. We just finished a site overhaul in November and in early December did a quick, two-week, six-figure launch of an online course.
For the tons of folks that visited and purchased that course, we know several things about them.
- We know their email.
- We know what lists we dropped them into.
- We know their traffic patterns on the site when they were logged in.
- We know what tags we applied to them based on that behavior.
- We know how many lessons they accomplished.
- We know how long it took to get thru all of the lessons.
- We know who didn't make it all the way thru yet.
If we pushed all that WooCommerce & customer information into a tool like Autopilot, we could design customer journeys that allow us to trigger push notifications automatically – but only for the right person at the right time.
And those notifications could go out with URLs (w/coupon codes) that offered discounts (because they're existing customers) for supplemental aides that could help them finish the course.
But if you do that for everyone, you're going to annoy people and look like you're just trying to grab as much money as you can. So Carey would never go for it.
The benefit of using a solution like Autopilot is that you can be segmenting those customers into different lists the whole time. So you might want to send those text messages but only to those who have made a number of purchases (over a specific period of time).
When we combine behavioral analytics, triggers, push notifications, and URL coupon codes—in an automated way—we're building an engine that can be trained to work in the most casual yet opportunistic way, much like my friend and I do when talking about meeting for the movies.
This is what I think we'll see more of in 2017. But that's just my guess. What's your prediction?