2016 Predictions For Open Source eCommerce Platforms

People love to shop online – evident by the 110,000+ ecommerce websites generating revenue of meaningful scale. Although most customers prefer in-store shopping, statistics show that the percentage of people opting for online shopping is on the rise and will soon catch up. At the same time, as the online store demand increases, the demand for being the best eCommerce platform comes into play.

Currently, open source eCommerce platforms are mostly preferred since they’re free and come with several customizable options. As eCommerce solutions evolve, these platforms strive to provide better service and enhance a consumer’s shopping experience. Being an open source dev shop, we at Drupal Partners have seen this demand in real-time.

Having implemented several open source eCommerce projects, the dev team keeps seeing some consistent trends and patterns. Thus, here’s my 2016 predictions for open source eCommerce platforms. These predictions might leave you in awe and, at the same time, a little unnerved. But this is eCommerce future – and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

Predicition 1: Mobile Becomes The Ultimate Destination

In 2016, eCommerce stores will have a much better mobile presence, helping us shop effortlessly using our smart devices. With Magento 2.0 and Drupal 8, building your very own open source eCommerce website will be extremely easy. With the recent Panda update, Google literally pushed webmasters to jump on the mobile bandwagon. But, few people complained because the update forced them to carve out a better place in their online niche/industry.

With responsive sites, navigation speed is quite faster and provides a much better user experience. Most importantly, eCommerce sites will showcase their products better with improved user-engagement metrics. I predict that almost all eCommerce websites will be mobile friendly and responsive by the end of 2016.

Prediction 2: eCommerce Gets Stalky

By stalky I mean that you’re shopping behavior is going to be tracked everywhere and all the time. As technology gets more sophisticated, acquiring personalized data and insights on consumers has become super simple. For example, imagine you own an Android device with the Google Now feature turned on and decide to buy a bottle of shampoo from a nearby store. Insightful data (such as where you go, which store you enter and at what time) is all recorded by on your mobile device.

Similarly, once you’re at the store, imagine you’re comparing two of your favorite brands using your phone’s search feature. Obviously, you’re not aware about giving out crucial details about yourself and you move on with your life. Next month, around the same date, you come across an advertisement for the same brand of shampoo with a coupon offer attached to it. You’re excited and go buy it online. But… Was it coincidence? I can say with 100% confidence that, no, it was not a coincidence. Your data was mined.

This is just one example of information that we give away without our knowledge – Information that eCommerce store owners use to target us on a personal level. These valuable data give the online store owners the option to create more personalized marketing messages. In 2016, there will be several of these intelligent marketing techniques targeted towards increasing online spending.

Prediction 3: eCommerce Finally Meets Customers – Thank You, Social Media!

Shoppers love to be heard and enjoy the slightest bit of attention given to them. Open source eCommerce sites will come up with solutions for better social media integration to let a customer’s voice be heard. The growing trend is that shoppers like to buy and, simultaneously, talk about their purchase via their social media accounts.

I predict that more site owners will utilize these options and create a user-centric atmosphere for customers to shop and brag about their purchases. Also, site owners will utilize social mentions and connect with users to create brand awareness. Social platforms will become the ultimate tool for customer engagement.

And I’m not just talking Facebook and Twitter. SnapChat is entering the picture with its unique storytelling feature to better relate with the Millennial generation. Further, Instagram is the Millennial’s go to social media account. Millennial’s on all of these platforms account for the maximum amount of eCommerce spending.

Prediction 4: User Experience Will Be King

I’m an avid online shopper and have used plenty of eCommerce sites. What most sites have in common is that they concentrate on easy site navigation and UIs, but still have pretty standard websites. With Drupal 8 and Magento 2.0’s revolutionary features, the user experience will be given the ultimate importance.

Expect eCommerce websites to look and “feel” much better in the coming year. These sites will highlight high definition product images and interactive elements, making site engagement even more exciting and unique. Also, smaller eCommerce sites will have more options to promote their brand effectively, with the UX painting the story they wish to tell. Indeed, 2016 will be the year for eCommerce websites to emerge with a better brand image and user experience.

Prediction 5: Renewed Focus On In-Store Engagement And Promotion

Many of our company’s eCommerce site owners have been looking at establishing their online presence for so long, that they haven’t been concentrating on in-store opportunities.

In 2016, open source eCommerce platforms will make this easy by providing more sophisticated tools to enhance cross promotion and in-store cart value. Further, as many store owners face cart abandonment problems, innovative automated ways will come into play to target users to get them back to their cart.

Once they get to the cart, they’ll be segmented into cross-selling campaigns to increase cart value by creating the sense of impulse purchase. In store offers, coupons, minimum purchase value for free shipping, etc. will be implemented to entice shoppers at every digital turn.

Prediction 6: Content Marketing Will Be Taken To A Whole New Level

I highlighted eCommerce stalking, but the ability to incorporate desirable content along with a product is something WooCommerce and Drupal Commerce will perfect at in the near future. With the power of open source CMS and big data, content can be created and blended to enhance a customer’s shopping experience.

Advertisement messages will no longer be seen as a hindrance but as helpful content, how-to guides, top 10 lists, etc. Armed with this the data collected, content will be hyper targeted based on a customer’s buying behavior and location.

Prediction 7: Finally – A Consumer-Centric Approach

eCommerce site owners have understood the power of consumers and how frustrating they affect their online reputation and credibility. This has pushed some open source eCommerce platforms to create an improved customer service portal, providing better after sales support.

I predict that in 2016, importance will be given to retaining existing customers rather than acquiring new ones. Customers will be given options to review, rate and poll to understand their exact opinions. Also, their grievances in social media and customer care portals will have immediate resolution.

Finished!

I think 2016 is the year where open source eCommerce platforms will really grow, change and be more competitive. These predictions show that open source eCommerce platforms are not only getting more intelligent, but they’re becoming more pro-consumer.

I’m super excited to see all of these awesome predictions taking form, in the near future.

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