As a Millennial myself mining the Internet Trends Report, not only did the report reflect back some Millennial-esk trends back at me, but I also derived a few larger market trends that will undoubtedly shape and impact the E-commerce market in the coming months.
Not to worry if you’re not a Millennial, I’ve boiled the ocean for you (that body of water being the annual 2016 Internet Trends Report by Mary Meeker) into the top three trends that will shape the face of internet advertising:
- Online brands tapping into at-home delivery
- Voice search will impact the search landscape
- More countries are getting online but smartphone user growth has slowed
Let’s take a closer look at some of the trends on the slides themselves.
New online-first brands have rapidly grown in popularity for the millennial generation with their focus on omni-channel and personalized distribution strategies.
Undoubtedly, consumer preference evolves over the years. We’re now at a stage where Millennials are a market that is predisposed to transacting online and (even more prevalently) on mobile phones. Brands that want to tap into the pockets of Millennials should look to carve out services that focus on leveraging home delivery utilizing websites that are mobile optimized.
Let’s face it, E-commerce is part of the Millennia and Gen X’s DNA. If I didn’t want to leave my apartment I could have everything I need to be delivered to me; groceries from Amazon Fresh, a new work wardrobe from Stitch Fix. I can even adjust the temperature of my Crock-pot from my couch (using an app) if I so choose. We’re that integrated with technology and brands which cater to our needs and preferences are the ones that will only become more integrated into the lives and households of Millennials.
The efficient ordering process of products and services online is reflected in the most streamlined look of logos of emerging retailers who have optimized for this generational change in preference.
In a way, it begs the question, what’s the need for physical retail stores when Millennials are shopping online and having items shipped directly to them? Well, we can potentially glean an answer to this question and to the future of big box retailers from this slide:
It’s quite possible that large retailers will be a physical place for their target market to visit and “experience” the brand (much like you can at an Apple store). But if larger retailers want to stay competitive against boutique and personalized home delivery services online shopping should be a seamless experience.
Ultimately, the one thing you can’t ship to yourself is experiences. Sure, trying on clothes in the privacy of your home is fun and saves time. But it doesn’t compare to actually sharing experiences with other human beings (and then, of course, being able to share that experience online). But that’s another post entirely. More to the point, Millennials are busy people. We’re often doing multiple things at once especially while commuting. Enter, the rise of voice search.
2. “More efficient and often more convenient than typing, voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction.”
There’s a lot of chatter in the marketplace about how voice search will squash organic search. But, technically, this is nothing new. Since physical search queries are often as fragmented as spoken queries, this places an even higher emphasis on the need for content that is descriptive, incorporating more generic keywords.
It’s worth noting the effects of voice search are improving rapidly. Which again means brands need more generic content that is based on how the general population might search for their product or service. Undoubtedly, this is going to be an evolving medium because every person’s diction (and, quite frankly, grasp of the English language) can vary widely. Ultimately, search phrases contained within the query will be what voice search engines themselves aim to key in on and use to surface suitable results; understanding context becomes key.
If you’re curious to know when and where most voice searches are performed, this data might surprise you. Especially when broken down by location. The data shows the top two primary locations for voice search are at home or in the car. Are people adding to their shopping list while in traffic? Or perhaps while performing other tasks whilst at home?
Voice search is growing but how will it impact internet retailers? The fundamentals remain relevant: Address consumer intent and their needs.
3. “Internet user growth remains consistent (led by acceleration in India), while smartphone user and shipment growth have slowed.”
It’s no surprise nearly everyone is on some form of social media site. It’s quite possible smartphones as a commodity have slowed in growth because, largely, most of the population that has access to reliable Internet already has a mobile device. But there’s no shortage of time invested in social networks especially the mobile-only platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
To put things in perspective, and quote a few excerpts from a recent article in Fast Company called “The 100 Most Creative People in Business 2016”:
“60 percent of 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users are on the ephemeral-video sharing platform, with snaps viewed more than eight billion times a day.” Nick Bell, VP Content, Snapchat. “Usership (of the Facebook Moments app) is growing, with 100 million photos indexed in the month of February alone.” Will Ruben, Laura Javier and Jasmine Probst creators of Facebook’s Moments app.
But here’s where video is transforming the static post-in-time wall that is the current face of much of social media; video is an evolving medium where we can window in at different points in time. Live or when it’s convenient for us.
And Snapchat is hoarding our attention. By providing a platform that allows us to post our own story, message with friends, access content from major brands, and window into live events all over the world in a word, we’re hooked. Plus the beauty of it all is you can FF (fast forward) through the videos (because, sometimes, 10 seconds is actually too long).
With so many connected devices and seamless integrations into monthly subscriptions like Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix we are, quite literally, wired for spending and viewing via wireless services.
In conclusion, online brands with an influence on mobile devices will be able to capture Millennials, an audience uniquely poised and predisposed to tapping into mobile E-commerce. Voice search will be an evolving medium but, make no mistake, it leverages generic, long-form content that is going to be inherent for all types of web publishers who what to win in this space.
Finally, our world is more connected than ever, but there are still pockets of the world that are not online. Smartphone unit shipments are plateauing so it’s time for the technology to catch up before consumers make the next big device purchase.