2018 predictions

Winning Online in Retail: eBI’s 2018 Predictions

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eBusiness Institute Team

At the eBusiness Institute, we focus on defining how consumer companies can win in the ever-changing Retail environment, both online & offline.

In the last two decades, we have seen a consistent increase in eCommerce revenue, to the point that consumer companies of any size cannot ignore the importance of online retailers,  be it pure players or bricks & clicks.



Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021
Retail e-commerce sales worldwide from 2014 to 2021


In a recent The Future Of Retail report authored by ChannelSight, delighting the consumer with an outstanding user experience is now the holy grail for all companies:


“Technology is the great equaliser and the consumer is at the centre of the new retail ecosystem. Consumers are connecting and expect to receive unique experiences at every point along their path to purchase journey. With the consumer taking centre stage, delivering improved consumer experiences has become a top strategic objective for organisations”.


Yet, in our work, we see that companies are still deeply focused on creating the best possible offline consumer experiences through short-lived POS materials, while placing minimal focus (if any at all) in designing great experiences for the more permanent digital shelf.  Companies often create lesser-quality executions for some channels even though they are all equally important, and even when it has been proven that consumers browse for information online before making any purchase decisions, be it online or offline.

Unfortunately, online executions are oftentimes of poorer quality than their offline equivalent, despite the fact that 72% of consumers go to Amazon to do product research before making a purchase decision.

A clear example is the effort put to develop product packaging. While traditional packaging takes months to develop and countless rounds of alignments with stakeholders, online pack images are often a derivative of a very bad offline picture, limiting the ability of the shopper to understand what the product actually is.

In this example, the advertised product, a box of 12 Quest bars, is not shown.  Rather than showing a box that contains 12 Quest bars as the first product image, we see a slightly misshapen single bar, with crumpled edges that distort the shape of the product and hides the view of the bar inside.


Poor eContent on Amazon
Basic eContent on Amazon


In our work, we often hear business leaders say “we don’t really put too much effort into eCommerce content because sales in that channel are still low”.  Yet some brands are winning online share and often we find out that these winners are not the offline market leaders but their challenger. In a world where online sales can be done on autopilot with functionalities like Amazon’s Subscribe & Save, the effort of the market leader to regain those lost customers in the online space might become increasingly difficult.

So, if eCommerce is clearly on a growing trajectory, why not anticipate it and get the organization, your processes and technology ready to meet its demands?


With this in mind, here are our 5 predictions for Retail in 2018:

  1. Content is the absolute winner: Retailers and manufacturers that understand the importance of creating compelling experiences through high quality content that specifically address shopping barriers will see the biggest growth. This is true not only for manufacturers but also for retailers, as many have to upgrade their digital shelf to accommodate more content
  2. Retailers become media powerhouses: Content goes beyond simple product images and text. Media is content and retailers are becoming media powerhouses. We will see more and more retailers investing in media capabilities, willing to attract media dollars from manufacturers, however the winners will be those that understand the importance of focusing on fundamentals first.
  3. Consumer feedback is central to the consumer experience: in a digital world where consumers are encouraged to express their opinions, both retailers and manufacturers have to increase their efforts in incorporating consumer feedback into product creation as well as the shopping experience. From Rating & Reviews to messaging, chats and advanced customer service functionalities, we expect business leaders to understand and start taking the first steps towards a world that sees the consumer’s voice being heard.
  4. Voice to show its true face as a new channel: we are still in the early days, yet we believe voice has a bright future, not as a substitute for writing, tapping and scrolling, but integrated into our daily lives. With the voices in our devices becoming more sophisticated and accurate, we will more often have conversations with our applications and incorporate this into our shopping experience too. The winners? Those companies that will be open to experimentation to learn in this space and anticipate the market need.
  5. Supply Chain might well be the real outsider that defines eCommerce winners: often forgotten, a real game changer to win with pure player retailers is the supply chain. Online retailers have a significant amount of supply chain costs in their P&L, hence manufacturers that can facilitate the job of the retailer through a more integrated and seamless supply chain might get significant returns.


We will check back on our predictions in 12 months’ time.  Meanwhile, get in touch to talk about winning with retailers online & offline

We wish you all the best in 2018!





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