Ecommerce predictions for 2016

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Taking a look at what the world of ecommerce has in store for 2016.

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As shoppers continue to flock to the January sales, it’s a prime time for retailers to shake off the mistakes of 2015 and look ahead to the next 12 months. Is it finally the year of mobile? What roles are in top demand for in-house teams? Here is the first in a two part piece where I look at predictions for ecommerce in 2016.

Optimize without borders

Perhaps the outage horror stories from Cyber Weekend 2014 finally drove the message home, but 2015 saw a lot of retailers investing heavily in scalability. Most merchants seemed to have stabilized and optimized their architecture this time around with far fewer reports of instability over the weekend.

I think there’ll be yet more investment in mobile this year with mobile traffic to retail sites surpassing desktop in mid-2015 and the percentage of revenue from smartphone rising almost as fast. There remain a lot of enterprise-level merchants that still don’t have mobile optimised stores and I think this will be the year where these retailers will finally stop playing catch-up and invest in delivering a consistent cross-device experience.

Moving away from restrictive technology

Merchants of all sizes have issues with legacy systems or ecommerce platforms that aren’t agile enough to meet their needs, and there has been considerable movement towards more capable solutions over the few years. There are lots of platforms within this bracket, but I’d say that Magento Enterprise and Demandware are leading the way at an enterprise-level.

The release of Magento 2.0 late last year will also have an impact on this. It’ll be interesting to see whether this has a positive or negative impact on Magento’s enterprise-level market share, as merchants could be wary of being early adopters of the new technology. I wrote this piece analyzing the two platforms and looking at the different benefits they provide to retailers.

Another interesting trend in ecommerce technology is merchants wanting to facilitate richer content, with lots of retailers looking to integrate their ecommerce platform with a better CMS solution. Paul Smith and 3663 are two examples of Magento Enterprise merchants that have added Drupal to their stack in order to increase CMS capabilities. Many other companies I’ve spoken to have asked the same question when looking at platforms. I think, given the shift towards content and commerce over the last ~18 months, the different platforms will need to look at how they can give their clients more freedom in this area, despite their core focus being scalable ecommerce.

I will be publishing part two of this article (which will look at ecommerce teams, content and commerce and an increased focus on customer experience) over the next few days.

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