Predicting the future of eCommerce is about as easy as predicting the future of business as a whole. It takes a lot of twists and turns on a daily basis, embodying the adage that the only constant is change. There are a few trends throughout the digital landscape that are having a massive effect on eCommerce as a whole, turning the future of the entire industry on its head. Here are three trends I'm noticing that are completely changing the game.
1. The Customer is Closer Than Ever
If there's one thing to glean from today's age of instant digital services, it's that middlemen are no longer welcome. Customers see them as an awkward extra step that keeps them from what they want, and when there is always competition that can circumvent middlemen, it does nothing but hurt business. eCommerce as a whole can't afford to rely on middlemen, nor can they maintain a business model that encourages their presence. What does this mean for the future of eCommerce? Businesses have to provide more immediate services, which will undoubtedly shape the overall state of entrepreneurship in the coming years. Quite simply, traditional methods of conducting electronic business are being completely overhauled. Robert Grosshandler, CEO of iConsumer, said, "We're using crowdfunding a startup business, made possible by the JOBS Act, to make the iConsumer customer the owners of the business, without the traditional overhead of the IPO process."
2. SEO is the Name of the Game
It has been knocked, called a fad, and described as snake oil, but the data doesn't lie - SEO is more important than ever. In an area like eCommerce that is driven by digital presence, maintaining high rankings is absolutely necessary to survive. Because it covers such a large array of industries, it occasionally feels like an oversaturated market, though the best can easily stand out through excellent rankings. In fact, the relationship between SEO and eCommerce is rapidly blurring, making it difficult to tell where one ends and the other begins. Marcel Olshansky, Operations Manager at Liquor Barn, tells me, "Recently, we have been seeing SEO playing an even bigger role than ever. Customers are more keen on clicking on a brand that they are familiar with, and that is something that we currently strive to develop further everyday. Our business has grown immensely by focusing on this strategy."
3. It's All About Your Brand
This takes us to your brand. Your brand is perhaps the most important aspect of business now that digital is dominating, and eCommerce will continue to see a shift towards brand-centric success. Companies have to make an impression with the simplest messages possible, which isn't easy. However, with instant gratification comes a higher threshold for poor branding. People simply don't want to engage with a company that doesn't interest them. Impressions are made immediately and have permanent effects. Companies are going to have to pour their heart and soul into their brands, because the alternative isn't a great option.