Trends that will make 2018 a defining year for eCommerce SMEs

A lot happens in a year of eCommerce. 2017 saw a shift in consumer behaviour and an increase in mobile-led shopping, as well as the introduction of US retail giant Amazon to Australia’s eCommerce landscape. As we turn our focus to the year ahead, let me share some of my thoughts on the retail trends small online businesses in Australia will face over the coming months.

AU retail customer experience will improve, gaining traction in the second half of the year
Last year, Amazon launched domestically. While some argue that the retail giant’s debut down under was lacklustre, I see it as the start of the rising tide. I predict Amazon will iteratively scale its operations and fine-tune its pricing over 2018 to deliver a market-leading customer experience by the end of the year. This applies market pressure on all other retailers to lift their game to deliver customer experiences and pricing that stands out from the crowd. Fast shipping, competitive discounting and tight customer segmentation is just the tip of the iceberg that should be on the forefront of every AU retailers minds for 2018.

Mobile optimisation
Mobile optimisation isn’t exactly a new phenomenon, and has been table-stakes for ecommerce businesses since 2012-2013. However, 2017 saw a growing percentage of millennials opting to shop on mobile devices, rather than from a computer. With this number likely to only increase further in 2018, mobile optimisation is no longer considered a luxury, but a right of passage for consumers. They will continue to expect a seamless mobile experience, on par with that of desktop in 2018. Businesses wishing to compete with the major retail players and maximise consumer spend will need to continue to optimise and improve their digital payment and mobile strategy. The simplification of payment methods is key and, in many cases, can help to reduce the number of products left in the cart.

Make 2018 the year for diversification
While the launch of Amazon in Australia in 2017 was a daunting prospect for many retailers, it doesn’t have to be at all. In the US, 51 per cent of Amazon’s unit sales are from third-party merchants. For those willing, it’s possible to continue to grow your own business, at the same time as using Amazon as an additional sales channel. Diversifying will help retailers build a stronger and more profitable business.

New payment methods, new fraudulent activity
As digital commerce continues to grow, so do the methods to commit fraud. As emerging technology payments gain greater acceptance and consumer preference grows, it necessary for online businesses to have risk management systems in place to help thwart fraud. It’s crucial the retailers have a thorough understanding of the current payments environment and work with partners who are experienced with the latest technologies, issuers and payments networks.

2018 is going to be a defining year for Australian eCommerce businesses, big and small. While many predicted that the launch of Amazon in Australia would have a devastating effect on the industry, it couldn’t be further from the truth. This year will bring with it the opportunity for online businesses to diversify and grow. Amazon is the rising tide that lifts all boats (other AU retailers) and in the words of one of our supermarket chains, Coles, I foresee AU retail customer experience getting “a little better every day”.

Jordan Sim, Group Product Manager, BigCommerce

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