eCommerce in 2016: 7 intriguing forecasts

Virtual reality to replace brick and mortars? Stores for teens only? Hard time for Alibaba? See seven most original predictions for eCommerce in 2016.

Having analyzed over 100 expert opinions gathered by the research and development team at PayU, we have identified the most essential trends to rule the eCommerce industry throughout 2016. Apart from these forecasts, we have also noted some other quite intriguing and surprising predictions. Who knows, you may find them inspiring – it is no secret economy trend setters are those who benefit the most if trends gain ground.

1. Flash sales
Flash sales have become a habit and an expectation of online customers, especially during special occasions. Although the success of flash sales isn’t guaranteed, it can be assumed that if flash sales become rife, customers will be more than happy to lap them up with both hands and in small timeframessays Brian Zeng from OwnOnly. The expert predicts that with flash sales – a concept referring to a cut in prices for selected products lasting from a few minutes to a few hours – an effectively operating online business may boost its performance. If combined with a marketing campaign, a retailer will be able to acquire some new audience and improve brand awareness.

2. The power of millenials
Born in late 1980’s and early 1990’s, millenials will soon account for 75% of the global workforce (as per Deloitte’s data). Since they are to propel the labor market, they will also become the most powerful target group for most businesses, also those run online. Experts advise to make the most of their potential on the eCommerce market. - Tech-savvy millennials have tremendous purchasing power, and expect businesses to satisfy their appetite for digital experiences across channels - says Robert Allen from Smart Insights.

3. Will virtual reality change eCommerce?
Virtual reality is one of the most dominant technological trends for 2016, so appears after the CES Consumer Electronics Show 2016, Las Vegas. Its application may go far beyond entertainment, which virtual tours used to be mainly associated with. It can be used also in trade to reduce any need for a store visit. - The 3D led augmented reality can take the in-store experience to a new level. Tommy Hilfiger, a US based fashion and accessory company has recently announced it’d offer a virtual reality shopping experience at some of its outlets. Imagine all retail networks are doing this and consumers are not even visiting the retail stores. 3D virtual reality and its web applications can turn this imagination into a reality - says Eric Haskell from Palmetto Web Design.

4. Appreciate Holiday sales
It’s no surprise Q4 with its Christmas and the outburst of Black Friday promotional campaigns is the best season for most retailers. The Holiday magic shapes consumer shopping behavior and persuades them to open up their wallets, whether traditional or digital ones. - In the United States, holiday sales consistently account for over 20 percent of all sales annually. E-commerce sales from the holiday season alone have tripled from $19 billion to $53 billion over the last decade - says Sharanya Hariday from NimbleCommerce. According Forrester Research, over 70% of holiday shoppers were determined to be lured in by various promotions. When planning 2016, make sure to bring all your forces at the turn of November and December.

5. Back to group buying?
Soon after starting off with a bang and spreading into over 500 cities, Groupon – a top group buying website – had to reshape its business model. Despite its gigantic coverage, the site kept on suffering from losses. Failure of the American company in the B2C collective buying segment has discouraged many eCommerce entrepreneurs from entering into this area of retail. Monika Wells from BizDb says it’s a shame. The expert shows the example of the Middle East, a new emerging market for consumer collective buying, persuading there is a future for such B2C e-commerce business. - It’s quite certain that in the future we’ll see those websites morph into more personalized and targeted services, designed to meet the requirements of experienced online shoppers - she says.

6. Alibaba’s struggle
Alibaba is one of the largest trade companies worldwide. Founded by Jack Ma, the platform enjoyed a record debut on Wall Street (raising $21.8 billion from investors) and is estimated to be worth over $200 billion. Many analysts claim it to be the only firm to effectively compete with Amazon for power on the global eCommerce market. However, what Daniel Reckling from Demandware says is that 2016 will be a hard time for the Chinese giant. - Yes, they are huge but they have ceased to innovate. They are challenged in China and have yet to successfully enter new markets, which has spooked investors. One year after its record IPO, Alibaba shares lost more than one-quarter of their value - he adds.

Read also: China’s Singles Day 2015 – e-commerce world record>> 

7. Generation Z up to rule eCommerce
In the upcoming years, most eBusinesses will find it essential to fight for the satisfaction of vast Generation Y, or else millenials, however to stay on top of the game they should already start taking care of younger audience – Generation Z (teens aged 12 to 17). All evidence in the record suggests that the group is going to enter the eCommerce market much earlier than its predecessors. - Adolescents will become a larger percentage of online commerce in North America, driven in large part by integrated experiences between ecommerce sites and social media - predicts Matt Mayes from Demandware. Facebook and Snapchat have already been experimenting with shopping directly from the apps. YouTube has done the same by introducing an option to shop while watching a video.

If we see it now across the Ocean, we are certainly going to experience the same in Poland soon.


Main photography: © gustavofrazao/Fotolia, additional illustration: © pict rider/Fotolia