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What will define eCommerce and fulfilment this year? 7 key predictions for 2016

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2015 was quite a year for online retailers. In the last few months in particular we have seen huge gains in the marketplace. eCommerce went social as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest unveiled shopping features, and in the last few months alone events like China’s Singles Day and the US’s (and now many other territories) Black Friday discounts saw online sales receive a boost of billions.

So what will 2016 hold for the industry?

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1. Growing consumer trust will boost cross-border sales

All signs point to consumers growing in confidence when it comes to buying from overseas sellers. Faster shipping times and more transparent delivery charges are likely to continue this trend and with the possibility of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership being passed in 2016 the market may open up to more businesses in more countries than ever before.

2. Trackable shipping to become the norm

Greater availability and use of tracking for orders will also be a key differentiator when it comes to eCommerce fulfilment both home and abroad. Most customers don’t require their orders to arrive the very next morning, but do feel more at ease knowing where their packages are in the picking, packing and delivery process. Find out more about why customers love trackable fulfilment in this post.

3. Same-day shipping will become more popular

Until this year the idea of same-day delivery in the UK seemed a far-off fantasy that few e-tailers entertained. Since then Amazon has introduced its Prime Now one hour delivery service to a growing number of postcodes, while competing courier companies like Shutl and City Sprint also expanded their reach offering speed-delivery from retailers like Schuh, Maplin and House of Fraser.

While same-day delivery comes at an extra cost to the consumer (for example even with Prime membership Amazon still charges £6.99 and imposes a £20.00 minimum order value), it seems there is still a growing appetite for it. In the US - in which many of these services originated in cities like New York and San Francisco - it was found earlier this year that 60% of internet users would pay if the option was available to them.

4. Easier returns

In 2016 we will likely see improvements to Return Merchandise Authorisation (RMA) technology, as more and more online retailers see the light when it comes to ensuring returns are quick, easy and trackable. Since the 2015 Consumer Rights Act enforced a 30 day return policy for all purchases back in October, customers will no doubt be scrutinising eCommerce companies who make the process drawn-out or complicated. Read more about the importance of a robust returns process here.

5. Mobile commerce will continue to rise (but desktop will still dominate)

One key trend to come out of the 2015 holiday season is that a growing number of consumers are shopping on mobile devices. Improvements in site compatibility and many retailers investing in app development, as well as increased screen size on mobile phones and tablets, have lead to a sharp increase in traffic and conversions. Contactless mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay will also rise in popularity.

6. Fraudsters and hackers will keep getting smarter

2015 saw a number of high-profile cyber attacks and despite continued efforts to keep customer data secure this will no doubt continue in 2016. The growth of the so-called Internet of Things as well as mobile payments could also provide ripe opportunities for hackers.

Businesses are set to face tougher EU regulation this year on how they can collect and store data, as well as steeper fines, so the implications of security breaches or the mishandling of data are important to consider.

7. Luxury goes online

If one area of retail has been reluctant to make the leap to eCommerce it’s luxury brands. Fashion houses like Prada and Chanel have resisted going online so far, stating that their clothes need to be seen and tried-on in their exclusive, immaculate-looking stores to get the real high-end experience.

While it is certainly difficult to translate this speciality brand feel to eCommerce, luxury retailers are finally embracing the idea of selling online. While brands like Gucci and Saint Laurent are already leading the way, Dior tested the waters in 2015 witha holiday pop-up shoe shop with Bergdorf Goodman. With the rise of celebrity instagrammers and bloggers opening luxury brands up to a huge potential market, more sales teams will no doubt be looking to leverage eCommerce this year.

To find out more about what outsourcing your fulfilment needs could do for your eCommerce business, click here.

January 7th, 2016 by Hannah Newman

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