Updated October 18, 2022

The ecommerce landscape is in near constant flux, and the ways we sell, share, and optimize are changing almost daily.

2016 alone was a historic year, ushering in the long predicted era of mobile dominance and seeing record sales across a variety of marketplaces.

As we stand now, more than halfway through 2017, so many things are already in motion that it can be hard to keep track of present trends, let alone near future ones.

With that in mind, let’s look at the distant future instead.

Based on a variety of current trends and insider experience, here are some speculations about how the ecommerce marketing field might change and what it might look like over the next several years.

Alternatives to the Undisputed Kings

Everyone knows that just a few major platforms have pretty much monopolized the majority of online traffic. For most online retailers, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are the only names in the game.

These monolithic organizations have a seemingly permanent position and effect across all networks, and currently, there’s nothing that would dare to challenge their primacy. When you add in the demands on public companies to show continuously increasing profits and paid traffic costs for merchants, it seems like these ecommerce behemoths will only continue their unhindered climb.

But what would happen a few years from now if, say, Google and Facebook raise their rates to the point where it’s not feasible for most to profitably purchase traffic?

It’s anyone’s guess what form it will take, but it’s certainly a possibility that a major traffic alternative for retailers will spring up sometime in the next decade. One that will likely operate under a different set of guiding principles from the social and search traffic giants we know today.

Some have speculated that it could be an open source search engine, built around the promise of results uninfluenced by advertisement. Others have suggested something like an independent review site, ranking stores and products based entirely on reviews they generate.

Whatever the outcome, the trend of increasing ad costs, and Facebook feeds that are increasingly stuffed with paid content is likely unsustainable for both online retailers and consumers alike.

Great Ads are Commonplace

Everyone loves Superbowl ads for two reasons: 1) They’re well-made (i.e. expensive) and 2) They’re either comical or aimed at making an emotional connection with the audience.

All Superbowl ads tend to fit these categories because, well, meeting those criteria generally ensures success. With attention spans getting exponentially harder to earn and infinitely more expensive to buy, creative and emotional advertising will become necessary staples for getting noticed.

From the infinitely parodied “Old Spice” commercials, to the Dollar Shave Club infamous 2012 commercial – the ads that are effective have to be impactful these days. A trend that is only likely to increase in importance.

True Virtual Reality Is On the Horizon

VR technology may have seemingly stalled out in the last year or two, but there’s way too much capability in that pair of cardboard goggles to stay down forever.

Google Trends may paint a grizzly view of “virtual reality” if you search for it these days, but the technology continues advancing.

VR’s potential to affect the ways people see the world, watch events, and shop online is massive, and once it finds its niche, it’s likely to remain a staple for some time.

One of the biggest reasons for its ‘stall out’ is that the technology keeps getting talked about as though it will mature overnight.

Do your best to remember the internet of the 1990s. It started to hit most mainstream homes early in the decade, yet buying things online didn’t take off until nearly two decades later

The Oculus Rift was released in consumer form only a year ago, and because there wasn’t an immediate adoption of it in 14 months, it became completely dismissed by the mainstream tech gurus.

Any new technology is expensive, over-hyped, and generally buggy when it first makes a move on the public, but the functionality of VR could bounce back in a major way as people become more and more comfortable experiencing every aspect of the buyer’s journey from the comfort of their homes.

Adoption of a Mobile Checkout Standard

The last five years have been explosive for mobile, but there’s still a huge gap in conversion between desktop and phone. This is mainly because buying stuff on tiny screens is a pain.

Apple Pay, and other similar services, have promised to make that easier, but regardless, the gap remains for now.

With no universal standard across devices and browsers, streamlining the path to mobile conversions becomes difficult. However, the next five or ten years could easily see the emergence of a universal mobile payment protocol – specifically one that mobile vendors can use for facilitating easy payments via phone.

Similar to the “http” protocol we all know and love, it will become much easier to buy on a mobile device, because the buying process will be more precisely structured and optimized for the small screen. This has already started, with search engines like Google and Bing, social media platforms like Facebook, and even marketplaces like Amazon and eBay all focusing on a mobile-first approach to checkout ease.

With time, the gap in conversions between mobile and desktop will dissipate.

Stores Will Get Thinner and Thinner

It’s widely accepted that retail employees are a slowing fading into obscurity. Between automation and many companies increasingly use of contractors for everything other than their core competencies, the need for physical employees is diminishing.

And it’s certainly not just the Fortune 500.  Even mom & pop store owners are outsourcing when necessary, and it all comes down to cutting prices for greater convenience.

Even over the last year, a greater number of SaaS apps sprung up that are now addressing needs you would previously use a VA for.

Between advancing technology and access to a virtually limitless pool of global contractors, the average number of employees and required overhead for store owners seems as though it will decrease dramatically in the next several years.

For store owners, this isn’t terrible news. In fact, it means you’ll probably be running a more efficient and profitable operation.

These predictions are nothing more than a speculative look at current trends and how they may one day change to influence the ecommerce world.

While it’s sometimes hard to be certain about digital marketing trends, ROI Revolution prides itself on offering measurable, ROI-driven marketing management to those looking to take the next step. If your business could use a helping hand with your marketing efforts, sign up for a complimentary 20-minute account review today!