E-commerce in Quebec: my predictions and wishes for 2014
2013 has muddled the waters in the world of e-commerce in several respects: mergers, acquisitions, internationalization, more diversified systems, media/merchant competition for attention, etc.
It is always difficult to predict the evolution of online commerce, it is changing so quickly, but one thing is certain, merchants here will need to be well prepared for 2014, because with the arrival of an increasingly resourceful and diversified competition, the year is likely to be full of challenges. In a context where e-commerce has grown by 24% since 2010 (compared to 6.7% for retail in general), online business is clearly attractive both for those who want to keep their place and those who want to attack. .
Here are eight fundamental trends around which e-commerce in Quebec should evolve in 2014 .
SOME DATA : EMPIRICAL TESTS RATHER THAN GENERAL PRINCIPLES
Everyone has been talking about big data for a few years now, and in 2013 some also came up with expressions like small data , smart data , and a host of other terms that define the use of the extreme volume of data available around the world. user activity to refine online experiences.
2013 was the year that everyone woke up and launched loyalty and remarketing programs , and even saw major acquisitions and partnerships that have huge potential in this regard. Just think of the Loblaw Companies which acquired Shoppers Drug Mart in July : imagine all the targeting possibilities that will arise as the banners coordinate their PC Finance, PCPlus and Optimum loyalty program initiatives… (The partnership of Shoppers Drug Mart with Beyond the Rack could also lead to some interesting developments.)
However, with the exception of a few giants, few companies have the resources required to pursue their ambitions when it comes to combining CRM data, social media data, online interactions and all the other sources of customer information (not to mention legal and organizational barriers). As we see more and more, the “renting” of segmentation data to a third party and partnerships allow marketing departments to access better results through good targeting without disrupting business systems.
In 2014, rather than tackling such a big problem , it is still possible to combine the easiest data to use to make some relevant targeted campaigns... and just with that, we all have something to take care of all the time. year .
PRIVACY IN QUESTION
2013 was also the year of the Snowden affair, which is likely to have major repercussions even in 2014, when everyone doubts the limits of online privacy.
If advertisers want more good targeting tools and consumers want a better personalized offer (and engage more every day in social media), the curiosity (newly exposed, but widely suspected for many years) of governments just throw a stone in the pond and could quickly influence the evolution of several important tools.
Among other things, this fall, Google caused a stir in the world of SEO and performance measurement, in particular by ceasing to share via Google Analytics the organic search expressions that generated visits (replacing them with the famous " not provided" ).
Several web giants (mostly US vendors for retailers or US retailers) are likely at a complex crossroads where they will have to decide how deep they want to hold customer data, and how to manage that data to (re )build public trust in their dealings with the U.S. government. Some even go so far as to say that the concept of “privacy” is a historical anomaly .
From 2014, we will have to expect a new generation of measurement and targeting tools taking this context into account … certain data may cease to be available, and new intermediaries (American or not) for the manipulation of this data might become attractive to some.
TRANSACTION FEES THAT WILL VARY MORE
In 2013, the general public was definitely brought into repeated contact with alternative payment technologies that put more and more pressure on traditional payment options (like banks and credit card issuers), including the iPhone 5s. (with iOS7, Passbook, iBeacon and a fingerprint sensor), Square and Bitcoins (especially with the SilkRoad case).
In this context, two scenarios are likely to coexist in 2014, but especially in the long term:
1) New technologies collect an additional margin on payments that use it (as PayPal has been doing for fifteen years), which merchants risk approaching with a variable opening depending on the other advantages of the payment method for them (Paypal still helps merchants to identify reliable addresses and brings a non-negligible pool of confident Internet users).
2) New technology vendors pressure merchants, banks and card issuers to lower their own fees, or risk being pushed out of the value chain. Could Apple impose its own terms with mobile payment as it faced publishers to include plays/books/apps on iTunes and faced wireless providers to distribute the iPhone?
For merchants, a classic e-commerce maxim remains: more payment methods, more sales . But it will be necessary very quickly to follow which payment platforms are developing and which deserve to be supported, in particular for mobile payment and payment via Web user accounts .
INEVITABLE PARTNERSHIPS WITH THE GIANTS?
More and more products are being marketed and distributed in very large volumes via the proprietary channels of a few Web and e-commerce giants: Apple App store, Fulfillment by Amazon, Ebay's Magento, Google Product Listing Ads, etc. .
For medium to large retailers, doing business with companies that are both channel partners and competitors isn't always intuitive , but seeing breakthroughs like Amazon's drones, it's hard to imagine recreating such a unique and complex logistics system, even for a large company.
However, as the offer of these giants and their user bases grow richer, their involvement becomes more and more essential to remain competitive in certain verticals. In 2014, will we see the return of major exclusive partnerships between retailers and e-commerce giants (as was the case 7-10 years ago, when Amazon operated sites for major brands, which are are then freed from it)?
In this context, 2014 is also a perfect opportunity to think carefully about the retailer's precise business model, as more and more of its key processes can be advantageously (or not) outsourced to these companies.
THE ERA OF STRUCTURED DATA AND DATA THREADS?
For a long time now, marketplaces and comparators, two opportunities that are often under-exploited by local merchants, have been based on product-data feeds.
In 2013, we saw more and more manufacturers trying to better control how their products appeared in resellers' (retailers and distributors) online initiatives, and resellers trying to get better product data from their suppliers.
In the Quebec context, obtaining quality data in French also often remains a challenge… multiplied by the current importance of properly structuring product data.
In this context, Google also acquired Channel Intelligence in 2013 , which brought brands closer to retailers, providing retailer locators to brands, and data feed management tools to retailers. Google has inserted Google Shopping between these two products, which makes it possible to locate, from a brand's site, which retailer sells the product under the best conditions (price, delivery, availability, etc.) (I slipped one in word at the Infopresse Retail Trade Day.)
In 2014, this trend should deepen: online marketing relies more and more on very up-to-date structured data. Because even the best brand campaign will quickly reach its limits if the customer cannot quickly reach the retailer who offers the best offer.
In addition, it will be useless to have the best segmentation data on customers… if it is not cross-referenced with product data that is up to the task, that is to say sufficiently structured to tolerate a bit of automation. .
CROSS-PLATFORM CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT
Over the past few years, some of the most fashionable CMSs have gradually become CXMs , so that in 2014, serious merchants should no longer manage their site by talking about sections and pages, but rather of offers that are formulated and automatically combine to address the precise situation of the Internet user to whom they are addressed (e.g.: he likes our brand on Facebook, he mainly shops for discounts, and he has purchased 3 times in the last year, he has clicked on one banner rather than another, etc.)
In this respect, in 2014, we should (ideally) no longer see clients and agencies debating the ideal layout for a homepage… because this page should no longer be unique, but automatically adapt to a variety of contexts . When shopping for an e-commerce platform, its marketing automation capabilities should be a top concern.
Again, reliable structured customer and product data will be the cornerstone of this evolution.
WEB DESIGN ADAPTED TO THE ONLINE PROCESS
In this context of experience design, 2013 was an important year for online design and creation tools for the Web. We saw the arrival on the market of the Google Web Designer tool , as well as the first new version of Adobe Creative Suite which was only available on Adobe Creative Cloud.
These are just two major launches that signal a move towards authoring tools truly suited to the online publishing process.
For our part, we have worked on several projects in adaptive design (responsive design), such as the award-winning sites of the STM , Tourisme Îles-de-la-Madeleine (as well as a few others), and, at the same time, the article “ Web Design: Is this the end of Photoshop? ” from colleague Etienne generated a lot of attention.
In 2014, there will be no more excuses for creating sites and campaigns on tools that do not support the possibilities of the current Web, such as banners that adjust according to the browsing context , adaptive layouts that will already support mobile devices that don't yet exist, in-store labels automatically generated from website data , and more.
A CERTAIN MATURITY?
2014 should not lack opportunities and challenges for Quebec companies involved in e-commerce.
On the other hand, for once, there isn't a major technological breakthrough emerging as THE 2014 trend, and that's good for all those who are allergic to buzzwords . On the contrary, we see a host of details being perfected , thankless tasks finally being tackled, and several noisy modes transforming into currents which will coexist with each other .
Perhaps this is a sign that the online sales market is (finally) coming to some semblance of maturity?
After all, Amazon started selling books online over 18 years ago.