2017 served up another banner year for e-commerce and Shopify, with new records broken on a wide range of parameters. Just consider the various record-breaking numbers that were proclaimed for the month of November, which may hold a new record  for one-month overall e-commerce sales. Some initial analyst observations and reports regarding e-commerce during the month of November include:

  • Thanksgiving Day e-commerce sales of almost $2.9 billion for an 18.3% year-over-year gain.
  • Black Friday e-commerce sales topped $5 billion for a 16.9% year-over-year gain.
  • Cyber Monday e-commerce sales were estimated at $6.59 billion. This represents a 16.8% increase over 2016, and believed to be the best U.S.-based e-commerce shopping day in history.
  • About $2 billion in Cyber-Monday mobile device sales, a one-day record for “mobile commerce.”
  • Shopify determined that mobile commerce accounted for 64% of all orders between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a 10% jump from 2016.
  • Overall, U.S. e-commerce sales topped $19 billion over the five-day Thanksgiving-Cyber Monday long weekend. This was $2,6 billion and 15 percent more than recorded during the same period in 2016.
  • Shopify merchants realized more than $1 billion in e-commerce sales during the four-day Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Shopify merchants processed more than $1 million in transactions per minute during peak times.
  • Well, we could go on, but believe you get the point: e-commerce is going gangbusters.

With most e-commerce merchants undoubtedly celebrating their best year ever, it’s time to consider what’s now in store for e-commerce. What can e-commerce merchants and our favorite e-commerce platform—Shopify—expect to see in 2018. And we’re not talking about financial prognostication, though we do assume that e-commerce sales will be better than ever. Instead, we will consider what trends will help shape the look of e-commerce during the coming year.   

Mobile E-Commerce Continues Its Rise

E-commerce shopping from mobile devices has been increasing for several years. And 2017 numbers suggest that mobile devices are emerging as the top vehicle for accessing online merchants. While Adobe Analytics estimated that mobile commerce set several new e-commerce records in November, Shopify determined that mobile purchases surpassed desktop purchases for the first time during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday time period. In fact, Shopify determined that mobile sales accounted for 64% of its merchants’ orders overall, a much larger percentage than numbers offered by Adobe Analytics.

As part of the rise of mobile commerce, though, it should be noted that smartphones lead the growth and mobile shopping via tablets is in decline. According to Adobe Analytics, mobile device purchases accounted for a record 36.9% of all Black Friday online sales and 54.3% of site visits. However, tablets only accounted for about 20% of all mobile visits and even less of combined mobile device sales.

Going forward, e-commerce platforms need to continue to ensure that their online content works effectively with smart phones and other mobile devices. They will also need to account for the needs of both both merchants and shoppers. Not only will e-commerce platforms like Shopify have to fostor the ease and convenience of the mobile shopping experience, but make it easy for merchants to conduct mobile online store management tasks.      

Social Media’s Role With E-Commerce, Shopify to Increase

While e-commerce analysts did not focus on the impact of social media on holiday season online sales, little doubt that those merchants with a strong social media presence and effective social media integration gained sales from their efforts. As with mobile e-commerce, social media integration has been expanding for several years. This expansion is perhaps more evolutionary than that of mobile e-commerce, as e-commerce platforms and merchants continuously seek out the best means of using social media.

The primary focus of social media integration began with marketing, but direct sales from social media are rising. Facebook appears to be leading social media in generating e-commerce sales, but integration with other social media is accelerating. Shopify offers its merchants a fully integrated Facebook store, with page views optimized for mobile devices. Shopify also offers social media sales through “Pinterest Buyable Pins,” and currently testing an Instagram “product tagging” buying feature. Little doubt that Shopify and other e-commerce platforms will continue to expand social media sales channels in 2018.        

E-Commerce Sales Via Email

E-commerce marketing via email has also been around for quite a few years. In fact, analysts have long touted email as a primary revenue driver for both brick & mortar and online stores. E-commerce’s relationship with email is expected to evolve, with email serving as an actual sales portal rather than just a marketing vehicle.

Numerous apps already integrate various email marketing tools with Shopify and other e-commerce platforms. “Interactive email” that allows customers to securely buy products directly from their inboxes will drive the trend in 2018. Thus, not only can a merchant send tailored coupons to their customers, but also provide direct sales via the email.        

May 2018 Prove a Banner Year for Your E-Commerce Store

No doubt that other factors and ongoing trends will also help drive the evolution and efficiency of e-commerce going forward. We expect that Shopify will be on top of these and other trends in 2018. And we encourage you to keep abreast of them as a means of boosting your online sales. No matter what trends you follow, and which tools you adopt, we trust that you will have a profitable year.