Taken from ad-group JWT’s 100 Things to Watch in 2011, the retail insight blog RIS News has put together top 10 consumer tech trends for 2011. Social commerce figures heavily – 4 of the 10 trends fall under the social commerce umbrella (see below). Meanwhile, RetailWeek summarises hot trends in e-tailing, with social commerce figuring prominently (also below), as does some smart thinking by e-commerce systems integration specialist Salmon (Ann Summers, Selfridges & Co, Swiss).
- F-Commerce: While only a few brands currently sell directly through Facebook (including Victoria’s Secret, 1-800-Flowers.com and Delta Airlines), look for “f-commerce” to take off in the next year. By allowing Facebook visitors to shop without leaving the site, brands add a social influence to the transaction—and bring a concrete return on investment to social media.
- Group-Manipulated Pricing: Group buying online went from a blip on the radar to a bonanza in 2010. As the idea matures, we’ll see more inventive variations. One way to stand out: by making the advantage of group buying more explicit, as Uniqlo’s Lucky Counter did. Rather than have a fixed price—as with many of these services—the price will decrease in real time as more people opt in. This gives shoppers more incentive to spread to buy, buy, buy.
- Social Objects: Services like Stickybits enable users to attach digital content (videos, links, audio, text) to physical objects, and we’ll see virtual communities form around these real-world items. While social objects open up opportunities for brands to connect with their customers, brands will also have to be prepared for consumers’ experiences around social objects to overshadow the objects themselves.
- Virtual Mirrors: A camera displays a customer’s image on a screen, which then overlays various types of makeup, allowing shoppers to preview products and play with options. Virtual mirrors also allow clothes shoppers to test out styles and share the look via Facebook, mobile and e-mail. Shiseido is rolling out virtual makeup mirrors in European stores after launching them in Japan; France’s Carrefour SA, the U.K.’s Superdrug and U.S. Walmart stores are testing similar technology from EZface. Among others, Macy’s is trialing virtual mirrors in its flagship New York store.
- Ratings and reviews: user-generated content and word-of-mouth marketing is the future of online retail.
- Online merchandising technology: cross-selling and up-selling with personal recommendations ‘people who bought this…also bought that’
- Anti-fraud technology; device recognition in addition to credit card, IP address, and personal identity checks – collaborating with delivery partners
- Mobile Websites: fewer apps more mobile web (wider reach, easier to find)
- Connecting to social networks: Adding a social layer to onsite e-commerce, selling on social networks, rewards for shares, social networks as loyalty program platform
- In-site search: ‘facet-based’ search – searching from products based on user review content
1. “f-commerce” becomes a verb “Beyond mere fan pages and ‘like’ buttons, merchants will re-focus on Facebook and look to develop eCommerce websites completely within Facebook. With more than 500 million active users (50% of active users logging onto Facebook in any given day, the average user having 130 friends and people spending over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook, more here) the potential ROI appears to be huge. And yet developing an eCommerce solution inside Facebook is not without its potential drawbacks. In this post, Michael Hoffman remarks (in the comments) that firstly, “Facebook provides no service level agreements. Therefore, if Facebook is down, you are down. If your app is performing poorly, there is no one you can call directly. All applications are treated equally.” Michael’s second point is equally poignant…. so let’s think about Facebook security for a moment…. it’s a fact that Facebook profiles are sometimes hacked so is there a knock-on issue in this regard towards f-commerce? And what about the .api, the PCI compliance, the optimisation of Facebook eCommerce stores for mobile devices, and payment….wow, the list goes on (and that’s not even counting the growing WhiteWalling trend as recently discussed by Drew Benvie). What is certain is that those merchants that get to grips with any potential issues first, will also see the upside first; and already pioneers like JC Penney are putting their best foot forward already as are ASOS in Europe (n.b. ASOS link requires Retail Week subscription). On the flip side, on the merchant eCommerce websites itself, there is little doubt that exposing a shoppers social graph will unearth recommendations and reviews that an algorithm simply would not. I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t be delighted to see what their social graph (or certainly a selection of their social graph) has been buying and saying about particular products and services”.
2. The Mobile Web Explosion If last year was the year that mobile commerce finally arrived (actually it was the year before last imho), expect to hear the herd stampeding this year…. Apps no doubt will continue to be developed, but they’ll find their place within retail strategy (and it will probably be less important than your average app developer will tell you today) because really it’s the mobile web that will explode…And remember, where there’s payment there is also security to worry about and ‘NFC’ (near field communications) and ‘payment wallets’ and ‘mobile vouchers’ will muddy the confusing water for many.
3. Internet Explorer 9: support for standards – CSS3 and HTML5
4. Firefox 4: idem
5. Web Standards become the standard. All hail CSS3 and HTML5
6. Landing Page optimisation & cross channel optimisation
7. Tighter Social Network Integration “Whilst we have already discussed Facebook in a little detail, overall there will be a surge toward tapping into established 3rd party social networks. Clearly links (to-and-from) Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Blippy, Foursquare, Amazon, LinkedIn, Go Try It On, Shopkick and Group On and the like WILL have their merits (albeit sometimes merely volume based) but really that’s only half the social network story. Whilst many major online shops have now realised that it is actually pretty difficult to establish their own social networks (e.g. HMV’s www.getcloser.com failed last year) many will persist; and for those that do so the rewards may well be significant. Those that maintain their own social functionality (perhaps combined with simple hooks into established social networks as well) will tightly embed and integrate social networking directly into their main eCommerce sites using services like Pluck (which we have implemented before) or KickApps. ASOS is one retailer who is a long way down this road already within the eCommerce industry with its ASOS Life portal that combines blogs, forums, ideas as well as an online market place for clothing. But it’s not just fashion retailers getting in on the act – Sainsbury’s and ASDA have significant presence already too.”
8. Location Location Location …‘check-in’s’, ‘augmented reality’ and ‘mobile vouchers’ – location based offerings are rapidly becoming the eCommerce solution de-rigour…. Look out for Facebook ‘Deals’ in the near future in the UK, and ‘local’ being the location battleground (offers around the corner from home/work, or where you are right now), and the continued rise of Google Places.
9. The end of the browser compatibility war…if anyone in eCommerce front end design has enough time and money to spend on IE6 vs. better desktop browsers and the host of mobile browsers then I’d be frankly pretty surprised. Here’s the rub. If it looks different in different browsers its not a bug.