2014 Technology, Consumer and Online Marketing Trends That Affect eCommerce
Starting the New Year, I always enjoy reading up on what’s coming up in the tech industry, what other marketers and thought leaders are sharing. Here is my curated list of top 7 technology, consumer and online marketing trends of 2014 that will impact the eCommerce industry.
1. The Internet of Things promises a more connected lifestyle with technology that we can easily manage and integrate with all other devices we are in touch (literally) for many hours a day. For eCommerce folks, selling consumer electronics, home wares and cool gadgets, this trend brings the hottest products of the year that drive attention and interest to your site. Make sure you get Nest (a smart home thermostat), or DropCam (a camera to monitor your pets, relatives and home help). Or check out Lockitron gadgets and apps that let you lock doors via your iPhone. No more daunting questions while you are driving away – “Have I locked the door?” Plus, the last year top sellers might also repeat the cycle, becoming more integrated into the lifestyle experience. My bets are on Xbox One and PS4, plus many more that are announced next week at CES 2014. More on those at Mashable and LeWeb event materials.
2. Wearable Tech also opens up the best seller product candidates for online merchants and a higher demand for brands like FitBit, Google Glass, NikeFuelBand, Jawbone up and Voyce that sell those direct on their sites. Some of such gadgets are highly addictive if you are into amping up your health, workout and well-being performance seriously. Others offer a new utility, like connecting and monitoring your pets in a new way. More at MacRumors and Forbes.
3. 3-D Printing offers new products and pave a path for a new niche of eCommerce sites, some of which become more consumerized and friendly to the general public versus being catered to tech geeks and early adopters. Besides highly useful applications of 3-D printing in medicine (skin tissues, implants and prosthetics), the new categories with the high sales potential are toys, jewelry, fashion accessories, art and home decor. Plus, given the on-demand nature of the products, there are no inventory costs and higher margins for more profit. So, anyone with a quality 3-D printer, a design eye or problem solving imagination focused on a specific niche can open up an online store today and find the audience to consume those products. See sites like Sculpteo and Shapeways that offer such products already (marketplaces).
4. Bitcoin Adoption continues and very likely brings some extra press and customers to the sites that offer it as an alternative payment option. Overstock mentioned its implementation on its site in the 2nd part of the year as per TechCrunch. While other big retailers, including Victoria Secret might explore it in the marketing programs through 3rd party vendors. See a quick update on all bitcoin from WebROI.
5. Native Ads and Experiences become more prevalent since consumers wish to be entertained, love being told stories and prefer some value in any communication that brands and retailers offer. Expect more ads that captivate as much as movie trailers on YouTube, editorial posts and offers on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat. There will be more ways to execute on product placement through brand-supported stories, site partnerships and paid posts on a variety of media. More on the evolution of online advertising from AdWeek and AdAge.
6. Content Marketing expands beyond writing copy for SEO, email, blogging and article placement. Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat offer new ways to create quick content that engages in both organic and paid variations, in various formats (video, video ads, editorial posts, image posts, lead gen cards). Finding the channel that works for your audience, and creating the experiences that are native (in conxtent with all other posts) and playing up all unique features available for a given channel (say, creativity for SnapChat) are what savvy online marketers can take more advantage of in the coming year. Plus, new publishers, technology platforms and agencies will allow scaling the volume of production, reach and measuring the ROI, making all that work manageable and worthwhile at the same time. More at Cnn Money & Fortune.
7. Contextual Recommendations and Personalization show up in mobile experiences and the physical world. Google Now is pushing this trend, which will have an impact on mobile search (SEO and paid) and content marketing. You want to make sure to use all relevant extensions in your search ads, expand their formats and leverage semantic search (become fluent in knowledge graph and new additions by Schema.org), so that your brand shows up in this expanding pool of contextual searches. More at Search Engine Watch.
On the other side of spectrum, brick and mortar stores and other retail establishments (say restaurants) will offer what we are so used to these days online: real-time recommendations, electronic, digitized and searchable. Expect to see more ways to find your products, menu items or event experiences you might like through on-location touch devices vs. your phones. The best of eCommerce enters more easily the world of traditional commerce, which opens new technology and service opportunities for the eCommerce industry that mainly serviced online retail before. More at PSFK.
Sounds like a full playground to me and a great year to make great marketing happen!