Venture capitalist Mary Meeker’s famous annual slide deck on digital trends for 2018 is finally released. As always, she covers a lot of ground in this mammoth 298-slide presentation. From digital consumer trends to shining a spotlight on the love-or-hate relationship consumers have with privacy and personalised content and global eCommerce trends, there’s a lot for one to digest.

The report offers many insights into the world of eCommerce and Meeker always tells a strong story of where we now stand in the world of technology and digital life. We’ve summarised 7 key findings especially relevant for eCommerce merchants in this article.

1. The retail industry continues its transformation from physical retail to eCommerce.

The eCommerce industry grew 16 percent in the U.S in 2017; a 3% increase from the previous year. Roughly 13% of all retail sales come from eCommerce, up from about 5% a decade ago. Conversely, physical retail is on the decline.

This means there are more opportunities for people wanting to enter the online retail space, but the eCommerce space is becoming more crowded and competitive. To give you an idea on the immerse scale in which we’re competing now – Shopify set up an online storefront exchange where people can buy and sell online stores that have been created on that platform in 2017.

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2. Voice search is on the rise

Voice search is now becoming a serious contender for another way for consumers to consume content, access information and shop for products.

With Echo, Amazon enjoys a dominant market advantage in the voice search market. They added over 10 million U.S users in Q4 of 2017 and the market for smart speakers continues to expand.

But the battle between Amazon and Google is heating up. Google Home’s sales outpaced Amazon Echo’s in Q1 of 2018 – selling 3.1 million units against Amazon’s 2.5 million.

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3. Data privacy and personalisation is a hot topic with consumers.

With the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica episode and the recent passing of the General Data Protection Regulation in the EU, data privacy and responding to security breaches is a hot topic now.

This highlights a conundrum – consumers want personalised customer experiences, which is most effective when data is collected about the consumer. In eCommerce, retailers need data to offer personalisation options like curated product discovery and product recommendation. When carried out effectively, data-driven eCommerce drives customer satisfaction.

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Yet, Deloitte also found consumers are willing to take action to address data privacy concerns, as illustrated in the chart below. 79% of consumers are willing to share their data for “clear, personal benefit”, but will protect their data when these benefits are not clear.

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4. eCommerce subscription models are hot

As we’ve described before, consumers are evolving from buying products to subscribing to regular deliveries of products. Digital subscription services like Netflix and Spotify have changed the way consumers obtain their music, TV shows, and movies. In the retail space, subscription services are led by startups like Dollar Shave Club that have disrupted their own industries.

Bigger, more established retailers are hot on their heels. Brands like Gap, Old Navy and Under Armour have quietly launched their own subscription services.

Subscription services can help cut down on returns, help companies figure out what customers want and turn intermittent shoppers into regular customers. They can also help retailers see how consumers respond to products before they decide to stock them in physical stores.

Source: CNN

For consumers, Meeker identifies several traits explaining the recent explosion of subscription models: access, selection, price, customer experience and personalisation.

5. Consumers consuming more content on mobile and thinking mobile first.

When we think about eCommerce today, it’s often mobile, interactive, personalised in the feed, in the inbox and also often at the front door. _

Mary Meeker

We’ve written about the importance of mobile optimisation for your webshop and Meeker’s latest statistics further demonstrate consumers are increasingly thinking mobile-first, desktop second. In the U.S, U.S adults spent 5.9 hours a day on digital media in 2017, up from 5.6 hours the year before. Of these hours, 3.3 are spent on mobile devices.

On top of that, mobile payments are becoming easier to complete. In this area, China leads the way, with 500 million active mobile payment users in 2017.

6. Customer Acquisition Cost on digital advertising is rising

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It’s becoming more expensive to acquire new customers through digital advertising. The cost of advertising on platforms like Facebook is increasing and reach and engagement on these platforms has not been keeping pace

Rising costs have caused organisations and retail businesses to look for more meaningful ad engagement metrics beyond pure reach, impressions, and clicks. They are looking at more long-term metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

In a 2020 Salesforce Digital Advertising survey Meeker featured, 27% of respondents globally consider CLV to be an important ad spending and optimisation metric.

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The implications for long-term retail success are astounding. Acquiring customers is not a sustainable long-term strategy. You need to focus on keeping your customers coming back to you, take a long-term view of the customer relationship and deliver value across the entire experience.

7. Social networks drive product discovery and purchases.

Meeker’s report also shows social media and eCommerce is on the rise. With the rise of shoppable features on social networks like Instagram, people are discovering and purchasing products without leaving their social network.

This is especially so for the 18-34 age group. In a survey of 1000 U.S consumers, 78% of 18-34-year-olds discovered products on Facebook within the last 3 months that they were interested in buying. The numbers don’t look too shabby for other visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest.

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The lesson for eRetailers is simple. It pays to be active and showcase your products on visual social media platforms.

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Mary Meeker covered a lot of ground in her report and we’ve highlighted the main points eCommerce merchants should be taking note of. It’s remarkable how technological trends evolve and change with time. We need to keep ourselves updated. Are there any trends you are looking out for? Share with us here!

You want to discuss the implications on your business with us and need help to improve your CLV? Reach out to our sales team – they can’t wait to share their experience and help you grow.

Joshua is responsible for Parcel Perform’s marketing efforts. He is passionate about technology, reading and continuous learning