What’s New in eCommerce in 2016?

2015 was a big year for eCommerce. Online shopping sites increased their share of the retail market by roughly 15 percent, and total online sales topped $340 billion in the U.S. alone. And by all indications, the trends are continuing to bend upward in 2016. But in a lightning-fast industry that seems to change as quickly as you blink, what else can we expect from 2016 where online shopping is concerned? Here’s a quick look at what’s new right now in the world of eCommerce:


The Mobile Argument is Over

For the past few years, eCommerce insiders have been debating the importance of mobile. And while the majority of the larger eCommerce players started investing their resources in mobile years ago, some still seemed hesitant to go all-in with mobile marketing, mobile-first design, and mobile search optimization—this is true even up into 2015 and despite the fact that in 2014, mobile already accounted for more than 63 percent of online sales.

Many were saying the debate was already over in 2015, and if that’s true, it is dead and buried in 2016. Mobile’s dominance is real, and it isn’t going away. However, that’s not to say it is completely without its problems. We’re still seeing some difficulty with converting mobile browsers into mobile buyers—due in part to the clumsiness of the mobile checkout process. So while mobile isn’t poised to completely kill off desktop commerce anytime soon, any eCommerce enterprise who wants to remain competitive going forward needs to start seriously investing in mobile, yesterday.


The Rise of Social Commerce?

While the mobile argument is over, the social commerce debate is just starting to heat up. When sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest announced their Buy buttons a couple of years back, everyone in the marketing world took out their trumpets and began heralding the new age of social commerce. But now, more than two years later, social commerce is still struggling to get out of its infancy, with many wondering whether it will ever make it at all. While it has shown promise in certain small arenas—perhaps most notably with Sonic’s innovative Instagram milkshake campaign—other indices aren’t so promising. While I personally think social commerce will at some point become an indispensable part of global online commerce, we’ll likely have to wait for some time while the world of eCommerce figures out the best ways to formulate, integrate and implement it in a viable, sustainable way.


Return of the Popup

If you’re over the age of 25 you probably still have nightmares about those pesky pop-up ads that used to invade your browsing session and clutter up your computer screen without warning. They’ve made a bit of a comeback over the last few months, but with a few slight changes (for the better). First of all, unlike the old popups, once you close one of the new ones, it won’t come back over and over again. Secondly, rather than trying to generate sales through direct advertising, the new popups generally just ask users to sign up for a mailing list or newsletter, making them a great way for companies to add names to their email lists. Sure, they might still annoy customers, but they are a big improvement over the old model—although they are infuriatingly clunky on mobile.


Real-Time Data is a Must

No longer merely a recommendation, real-time analytics are now the industry norm. If you’re in eCommerce management, you know how important it is to be able to respond to your customers’ needs in a timely fashion. With so many options out there for online shoppers, your inability to be responsive could quickly become your downfall. Real-time data allows you to monitor and measure everything that happens on your own site and in your supply chain so that you know in an instant when to make key adjustments to improve performance, user experience, and customer satisfaction.