Miranda Dobson

The changing face of e-commerce in 2013

This year has presented a minefield of obstacles for retailers in the UK, with many big names shutting down on the high street, such as Comet and JJB Sports, and stores increasingly looking to multichannel selling to survive.

In John Lewis’ recent trading update, online sales grew by 34% in the week ending 24th November, while electronics retailer, Dixons, said in its interim results last week that 80% of purchases involved the internet in some form.

With traditional retailers trying to adapt to the current climate by making their products more available online and through mobile devices, e-commerce businesses have surfed the wave, and researchers IMRG have predicted the value of the UK’s online retail market to reach £77bn in 2012.

Recent figures from business advisors Deloitte suggested that £3.2bn of in-store Christmas sales will be influenced by smartphones, with another £330m of sales made directly through the devices.

These figures have cleared the way for a forever changing way of shopping, and Ratuken, the ecommerce firm that owns play.com, has anticipated some major changes in the ecommerce sector.

As the third largest e-commerce marketplace in the world, Rakuten predicted that in the next year, online retailers would bring “a personal touch” to the way they interact with customers, and will engage more with social media to create a dialogue with customers.

“Curated commerce” was also a part of Rakuten’s vision for 2013, with increasing numbers of consumers using social media to get a second opinion on purchasing choices.

The e-commerce experts also said image network sites like Pinterest and The Fancy will become more important when customers make choices online, while sharing through these sites will have a knock-on effect on what other consumers buy.

Predictions also said the way people pay online will also change with the growth of mobile transactions, NFC and contactless payments.

Rakuten urged retailers to offer as many different payment methods, as the ability to choose how you pay can often be a “make or break” moment in a purchase decision.

The firm anticipated a rise in specialist retailers, both online and on the high street, rather than mass-market retailers, and said this type of retailer offers a more personal and informed service.

Rakuten said more video would be used to inform consumer choices as internet speeds improve, while it was also predicted that retailers would have to come up to speed by introducing mobile-optimised sites, dedicated apps, QR codes and augmented reality experiences in the next 12 months.

Adam Stewart, Marketing Director, Rakuten’s Play.com said: “In any retail business, the customer is central to success, and mobile and social uptake provides retailers with the opportunity to engage with consumers on a more personal level.

“In the year ahead, innovating the ways in which we build brand loyalty in an increasingly multi-channel retail environment will be key, as well as ensuring the platforms we offer are seamless.

“As an industry we need to refine the shopping experience online, and engage consumers with more tailored campaigns and offers to continue building consumer confidence in mobile as a device to make transactions and also utilise social shopping platforms to give the next level of recommendations as social shopping becomes entertainment.”

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