Seven e-commerce trends to look out for in 2014

The year 2013 has been a big for e-commerce, with figures from IMRG Capgemini showing that the UK’s online retail sector will hit a total sales value of £87bn by the end of the year, marking a 12 per cent year-on-year rise.

With this growth likely to continue into the new year, James Hardy, head of Europe at Alibaba.com, outlines the top e-commerce trends he predicts retailers will be embracing in 2014:

1. Shift to B2B

Historically, consumers have dominated the trend for online shopping, but a new study from Hybris and Forrester Research shows that businesses are now following in their footsteps and sourcing products via the web, creating huge opportunities for B2B retailers to move online. The study showed that 50 per cent of B2B companies are currently selling direct to business partners online.

The researchers concluded that failure to embrace e-commerce could see companies suffering serious losses so make sure you factor this into your selling strategy moving forward.

2. Making use of big data

Many companies have been collecting data for years but are not necessarily putting it to good use. 2014 will see a greater number of e-tailers making use of this information to personalise their offerings to customers and predict market trends.

Tesco is a good example of a retailer making the most of big data to innovatively increase sales. It uses weather records and detailed sales data to help predict demand for certain products based on weather forecasts.

3. Multi-channel shopping

Thanks to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, more people now want to be able to shop using many different channels. A recent survey by SAP highlighted that three-quarters of shoppers think being able to use different channels cohesively is important. 

The research also showed that in just five years, almost half of all purchases will involve more than one channel, with people using physical shops as showrooms, buying online and being kept up to date about delivery via mobile phone.

Tmall.com is an example of one retailer embracing multi-channel shopping and bridging the gap between online and offline. For this year’s Singles Day in China, Tmall extended its promotional activity to 30,000 bricks and mortar stores, encouraging people to visit the stores in the run up to November 11 to try out goods. They could then scan product QR codes with their mobile phones to add goods to their virtual shopping cart and automatically receive the appropriate discount.

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