The framework of what’s to come this year and beyond
I’ve been building e-commerce storefronts, platforms, and software for 15 years. And because that in e-commerce time is akin to dog years, that means I’ve been in and around the business for several lifetimes.This unusual perspective gives me special abilities to size up the future, not just because I see the patterns of the e-commerce economy, but because of a well-earned wisdom I’ve acquired by studying our 4000-plus customers for so long. Here’s my list of what e-commerce can expect from 2017 and beyond.
The rising tide against Amazon will grow. Sure, we’ve watched Amazon develop tremendously over the last 10 years and that will continue. But the current of the industry is shifting as we speak and bringing with it different and, yes, even exciting new marketplaces. The giants—Walmart, Jet, Target, Costco, Rakuten—are expanding their footprints with marketplaces from both physical and online stores. Similarly, with the Facebook marketplace, the inevitable Google marketplace, and Pinterest Buy It buttons, social media selling also looms on the horizon. This gradual disruption will give small businesses more choices from which to sell their products and that will lead to improved experiences for both the buyer and the seller. On the flip side, that increase in choice will also mean there will be more systems for online merchants to figure out and integrate.
But we knew this would happen, didn’t we? The big fights that Amazon has been picking with film, TV, music, shipping carriers, delivery, and now grocery were bound to have an effect eventually. Although Google and Walmart are already fighting the behemoth, more resources, resistance, and competitors are finding their positions on the front lines. SMBs and consumers want more choice—and now they won’t have to do battle because the bigger players are doing it for them.
Two categories will emerge: commodities and niche. In the coming year, niche products, crafts, and small-batch merchandise are going to continue to accelerate in popularity. In fact, the very commoditization of most goods will cause individuality and quality to rise in value and importance. And since consumers are all buying the same commodity items, those costs will be driven further down. Even for the newish commodity items—like $20 jeans found on OldNavy.com—there will be markets created by creative SMBs, or even the luxury industry, for consumers who want their jeans to be special. In 2017 there will be plenty of folks who don’t want everything they own to be found on Amazon, and that is why marketplaces like Etsy are booming and custom Shopify stores are being launched every day. The niche economy will be sustained and grow internationally as entrepreneurs are more educated, supported, and empowered by the larger global e-commerce infrastructure. Continue reading