What’s in store for e-commerce? Five trends for 2016

Booking a flight, buying new clothes, picking out a new pair of shoes, restocking on perfume… these are some of the many things we buy online. E-commerce has been booming in recent years, with more and more people trading their shopping trip in for an online purchasing moment.
What are the trends for 2016? Each year, Comeos, the Belgian federation for commerce and services, organizes a large consumer study together with InSites Consulting, to understand the evolutions in the usage of and attitudes towards e-commerce. The results are presented at the annual Summer Happening, which took place on Friday June 10 this year. So, what is defining 2016 and what’s in store for the future when it comes to e-commerce…


The past years we saw a yearly growth in e-commerce, which is now stabilizing with 2 out of 3 Belgians having bought something online in the past year. Online purchases are not only done by the digital-savvy younger generations; the study shows how e-commerce is adopted by the broader population and as such has become a true representation of normal offline commerce. Not only are we many when it comes to purchasing online, we even buy more and more (both in frequency and in product range) using e-channels.


Even though mobile is becoming the key device in people’s lives, the number of people shopping through their mobile device is still limited. Only 13% of Belgians have bought something in the past year using their mobile. This is mainly because people feel less comfortable with the smaller screen and are afraid to miss out on important information. Yet, the intention of buying through a mobile device is growing and those who have bought something on m-commerce are convinced; 85% are stating they will do so again.
Barriers for mobile commerce


Price remains the key driver for buying online; furthermore it determines the website choice. This comes as no surprise: the online landscape allows shoppers to easily compare vendors with only few easy clicks. Next to price, previous experience, product selection and quick delivery are also driving the website choice.
Key drivers for website choice


Today’s digitalization has made us impatient and as such we expect our purchases to be delivered in the next days (even the very next day), with a choice of home, office or pick-off point delivery. And the online shopping environment is feeding this impatience: when an e-commerce player offers free shipping and returns, it sets the bar for the rest of the landscape. As a consequence, shoppers are less willing to pay for deliveries and are starting to consider free returns as a minimum service.


We are happy online shoppers, with 86% being satisfied with their e-commerce experience. The real threat for (Belgian) e-commerce will not come from unhappy customers, but from the growing competition. The gap between Belgian and foreign websites is decreasing, the digital geographical boundaries becoming less clear. Next to that consumers care less about a website’s origin, with only 43% having a preference for Belgian websites. What attracts consumers to foreign websites is product range and price, considering that the latter is the key website choice determinator; this shows that Belgian websites are competing on an immense scale and as a consequence need to keep being harder, better, faster and stronger to survive.

E-commerce is big business and is moving beyond the boundaries of device and geography. The future is bright yet challenging, that is for sure.
Want to read more? Check out the full Comeos Trend report (in Dutch).

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