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4 Trends Driving the Future of Online Shopping

Technology has transformed all facets of our society, from the way we work, to the way we communicate with friends and family, to the way we consume entertainment. While nearly every element of our day-to-day is now reliant on technology, perhaps no activity has been more greatly upended than the way we shop. Mobile devices have created a fragmented buying journey, and platforms like Amazon have fundamentally changed the way we think about commerce and brands that serve us.

With brick-and-mortar stores closing at a rapid pace, and e-commerce expected to reach 15% of all retail sales by 2020, retailers (both traditional and direct-to-consumer) are understandably eager to get ahead of market trends and beat out a growing presence of global competition.

At Olapic, we work with hundreds of the world’s top retailers and spend quite a bit of time dissecting consumer preferences and industry technology to better serve our clients and develop solutions for future challenges. With this in mind, we’ve zeroed in on 4 key areas retailers should be considering to drive engagement and revenue moving forward.

Rise of Distributed Commerce

While more and more purchase behavior occurs through e-commerce, the growth of m-commerce (mobile) has also been tremendous. In fact, according to BI Intelligence, m-commerce will reach an estimated $284 billion, or 45% of the total U.S. e-commerce market, by 2020. Regardless of where consumers are ultimately making a purchase, it’s clear that there has been an enormous fragmentation of the buying journey. Consumers are engaging with brands across a growing set of relevant channels. Above all else, they are finding inspiration at varying moments, and want to shorten the path from discovery to purchase. We call this “distributed” or “frictionless” commerce, and it is a massive opportunity for brands to better engage their audiences beyond the website to drive more consistent, rewarding experiences.  

Still, translating this engagement into actual revenue, however, can be challenging. One of the most significant challenges is removing the friction associated with these channels – the sheer number of clicks, actions, and layers a shopper must travel through to go from engagement to purchase is staggering.

While platforms like Instagram shopping and Pinterest Shop the Look offer retailers a chance to reduce hurdles, marketers must develop intelligent sophisticated strategies in order to succeed in this new buying journey.

Consumer Demand for Authentic Visual Content

The average person is now spending 2 hours per day on social platforms (for teenagers that figure is upwards of 9 hours!). As noted, much of that time is spent gaining inspiration for product ideas or travel destinations by other users. As users have become more sophisticated with social, they are now also more equipped to spot the difference between a staged photoshoot and content created by real people featuring desirable products.

Not surprisingly, public preferences are changing accordingly. In fact, according to Olapic’s recent Consumer Trust Survey, 76% of consumers view content posted by other consumers as more honest than advertising. Certainly, this doesn’t mean that advertising no longer serves a purpose, but modern brands must find ways to co-create experiences alongside their customers if they want to foster more authentic relationships with them.

Emergence of Short-Form Video

The convergence of social technology and a consumer preference toward greater authenticity has resulted in a fatigued audience. With so much content being targeted to users each day across a variety of channels, brands must find ways to break through the noise and deliver their messages effectively. Industry-wide, marketers are turning to video, specifically in a short-format, which is proving to have a significant impact on performance. While traditional video still maintains a critical place in the media-mix, again, mobile devices and social applications have had a decisive impact, leading to an exponential increase in vertical video content. It makes sense, as both viewing and recording video is more comfortable when a device is held vertically instead of horizontally. In fact, mobile phones are used in portrait mode an estimated 98% of the time. And according to ZenithOptimedia, mobile devices will account for 58% of online video watching worldwide in 2017.

For marketers, generating enough short-form video, at-scale, to address audiences across channels is quite difficult and can be exceptionally resource-intensive. To address this challenge, Olapic recently launched a solution called Content in Motion (CiM). CiM helps brands turn existing static imagery into beautiful, dynamic animations for use on ephemeral and traditional channels.

Growth of Social Influencers

Another way that brands are augmenting the need for a greater quantity of authentic content is by turning to social influencers. Influencers, when deployed strategically, offer a number of benefits, including large and avid audiences of their own, and the ability to generate high-quality content consistent with both a brand’s aesthetic and the desired look-and-feel of a fellow consumer. At Olapic, we believe that influencers can be utilized to kick-start organic content creation among user communities, who love the brand and various products but simply need inspiration to begin creating on their own.

The influencer space is still rapidly evolving, as tech providers, brands, and influencers themselves navigate their value to one another.

As brands look to shift their programs to achieve success now and into the future, it will be interesting to see how these trends continue to evolve, and how consumer preferences and related technology adjust accordingly. How are you planning for the future of your brand? Are you taking the right approach?

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