Ecommerce is no longer a niche opportunity for digital-first companies. It has become the primary channel for all brands to reach their customers directly and drive sales. As the stakes get higher, we see a number of trends emerging in the US ecommerce industry that will have an impact on how businesses operate and compete over the next 12 months. To stay ahead of the competition, brands need to continue innovating their ecommerce strategies and exploring new opportunities to cut costs, target new audiences, and grow sales.

Here are four ecommerce trends we think will have a big impact on businesses this year.

Consolidation in the ecommerce ad ecosystem

The ecommerce ad ecosystem is continuously evolving, with new players entering the market and incumbents playing a stronger role. This is creating a more competitive landscape and forcing brands to reconsider their investment strategies. This shift will impact ecommerce marketers in two major ways. 

First, it will force brands to be more selective with their ad investments as the market becomes more saturated. Productive ad strategies will be more difficult to scale, so careful consideration must be given to ensure they are maximized. Second, the shift will require brands to find new ways to drive value out of the existing channels to ensure they remain a worthwhile investment.

The following are a few areas to keep an eye out for as the ecommerce ad ecosystem continues to evolve.

Stronger retail partnerships: Amazon’s aggressive expansion into ad tech has led to a number of partnerships between it and retail giants such as Walmart and Target. The goal for these partnerships is to bring an increased focus on cross-channel optimization to the table. This is significant as it gives brands direct access to the foundational assets they desperately need to drive sales across channels.

Increased focus on cross-device targeting: After the 2016 election, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) put a hold on any new ad targeting tools that could be discriminatory. This has put off device-based targeting tools such as IP targeting and device-based targeting. Now that the ad targeting tools are green-lit again, we expect brands to turn towards cross-device targeting to ensure their ads are as personalized as possible.

Stronger focus on transparency: As more brands enter the ecommerce ad ecosystem, it’s increasingly important for marketers to take a more strategic approach when allocating budgets. New entrants are bringing fresh ideas to the table and enabling more transparency into what the future of ecommerce looks like. This will be a huge opportunity for brands looking to invest in new ad tech but also have an eye towards future scalability and impactful ROI.

Stronger focus on transparency: As more brands enter the ecommerce ad ecosystem, it’s increasingly important for marketers to take a more strategic approach when allocating budgets. New entrants are bringing fresh ideas to the table and enabling more transparency into what the future of ecommerce looks like. This will be a huge opportunity for brands looking to invest in new ad tech but also have an eye towards future scalability and impactful ROI.

Accelerated movement towards automation and personalization

Amazon’s success with customer-focused automation and personalization strategies has caught the attention of many brands operating in the ecommerce ecosystem. Now that Amazon has made it clear it will remain the king of ecommerce, it’s important for brands to find new ways to differentiate themselves from the giant. One of the most impactful ways to do this is through automation and personalization. Although automation has been in use for some time, the trend towards AI and machine learning is only just taking off. AI has the potential to revolutionize how ecommerce works by adapting to the behaviors of individual customers and providing them with a unique experience. Alongside AI, brands are also exploring ways to automate their ecommerce supply chains. This has become possible as more businesses adopt an IoT approach. By embedding sensors in their supply chain, brands can get a clear picture of where inefficiencies exist and automate them to improve speed and reduce costs.

Greater focus on Influencers as a marketing channel

Social media has played a critical role in ecommerce marketing since its inception. However, the rise of influencer marketing has changed things even further. Influencer marketing has been a huge opportunity for brands looking to capture new audiences and drive sales. Over the last few years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of influencer marketing platforms that brands can tap into.

The problem is that these platforms operate like black boxes. It’s difficult for brands to understand how their campaigns are performing and how much is being spent. As such, many brands are looking for a way to tap into the benefits of influencer marketing without the hassle. Fortunately, we’ve seen the emergence of direct-to-consumer influencer networks such as Modern Influence, Branded, and Social Bluebook. These are direct-to-consumer networks that allow brands to tap into the benefits of influencer marketing without the hassle. They provide a centralized hub where brands can search for relevant influencers, communicate with them, and make payments.

New ways to drive value from Big Data

For many ecommerce businesses, the emphasis on capturing data has been a slow and steady climb. The evolution of Big Data has given brands the opportunity to analyze customer purchase journeys and optimize their ecommerce strategies. Now, brands are looking to take their Big Data strategies to the next level. This has resulted in an increased focus on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. AI and ML allow brands to analyze their data in new ways and make better decisions based on what they find. As ecommerce becomes more competitive, brands will have to adopt new strategies to stay ahead of the game. These trends will help brands find new ways to drive value from their ecommerce strategies and stay competitive.

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