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This week's top 5 cultural insights and e-commerce trends: 20 September 2019

Business · 4 min read

AOB: 20 September 2019

This week speed remains a factor as retailers fight for the quickest last-mile solution, consumers are finding their voice in a new way to pay, and taxis might no longer need roads. Read on for more in this edition of AOB.

Easy Peasy Shopping Spree-Zy

Social shopping fans, it’s time to celebrate. Gone are the days of the clunky user journey when shopping on Instagram, as they’ve just installed a new in-app checkout that makes it easier to buy items on shoppable posts. Last year, Instagram made it possible to “shop” posts in your feed – where you were able to tap on the part branded, part advertisement content to reveal the price. Over 130 million users tap for these details each month, but wouldn’t make it through the graceless path to purchase of sluggish links to microsites. But now, that’s a thing of the past. Product Management lead of the new feature Ashley Yuki has said that “instead of having to go through this clunky mobile web flow and checking out, you can now check out directly on Instagram”.

The new feature brings Instagram closer to its vision of becoming the only shopping mall you’ll need, and the data-driven social platform has a detailed dossier on each of its 1 billion users. They’re leveraging this information by serving personalized ads on things you might like and may not discover elsewhere, so users can now peruse and purchase all in one place and get items sent directly to their door.

How shipping is shaping retail

Efforts to solve last-mile solutions are nothing new – as we covered in an article here – and with the rise of e-commerce, retailers are taking matters into their own hands. Amazon has always been out in front – with its large-scale competitors close behind able to match their offering, albeit at a slightly later date – but this puts pressure on smaller merchants to keep up, as consumers consider delivery costs when doing their research.

Etsy is helping out the little guys, announcing free shipping on orders over US$35 in the US this summer, but the e-commerce shipping solution is putting small sellers at a crossroads. Can they afford to take a hit on their margins if it helps them stay in favor with consumers? With Verishop, maybe. The company is firmly marking its territory, with their recent announcement to offer shoppers free one-day delivery, without membership, subscriptions or minimum purchase. In an offer too tempting to avoid for some consumers, Verishop is distinguishing itself from other online retailers by taking a 'quantity-versus-quality' approach – providing another thorn in the side to smaller retailers.

65% of Germans dare to dip into digital

With high streets in decline and brands losing out to digital competitors, the fact that two out of three retailers in Germany are still not selling their products online is quite a surprising statistic. It's mainly grocers, apparel, and specialists like jewelry that have stayed offline, but a survey held by Handelsverband Deutschland showed that e-commerce in Germany continues to be the industry's growth driver with an increase of 9% to €57.8bn.

However, digitization is easier said than done for SMEs who have tighter margins – but businesses would be foolish to forego setting up a digital store, as Handelsverband Deutschland CEO Stefan Genth states "Customers expect to find the retailer in the pedestrian zone and online". With German retailers refraining from venturing online to sell, find out more here on how, and why, doing business in the world’s fourth largest economy could be good for you. 

The sky’s the limit for taxis

Flying taxis – or, as the industry terms them, Urban Air Mobility (UAM) vehicles – are set to become a reality (rather than a scene from a sci-fi movie) as they move beyond the experimental stage. There are around 200 UAM vehicles at various stages of development around the world, with test flights underway and hopes for public rollout in the next few years.

With Uber looking to start flying passengers in Dallas, LA and Melbourne, Australia as early as 2023, regulators are racing to keep up. With vigorous testing of the technology required, the challenge is to make airways safe for autonomous vehicles, some of which can travel as fast as 200kph. While there's a wait for the first passenger flight, drone-based parcel delivery services are already underway with Amazon once again leading the charge – but Chinese retail giant JD.com– and DHL – are also venturing into drone tech.

Get to know your customer

We're inching towards the tail end of the year, and while consumers are eyeing their shopping lists, marketers need to be eyeing consumer trends and behavior. Audience technology platform Eyeota have released a report – with key findings showing that the Restaurants and Food Services, Home and Garden, and Apparel and Footwear categories took the majority of retail spend in 2018 and Q1 2019 (17% each, 51% total). Brands that aren’t traditionally in these sectors can capitalize through partnerships, a perfect example of which is DHL’s shoe collaboration with Mybudapester.

Globally, Asia has a higher spend (31%) in Apparel and Footwear compared to the US (14%) which is due to "retailers spending their budgets to reach consumers who are more brand loyal, well researched and ready to buy in the holiday season" says Elissa Reiling, VP of Marketing, Eyeota. Whereas with the Americas, Home and Garden retailers target consumers who carefully research and budget their next home improvement project.

Reiling continues "Driving sales will always be the primary marketing objective, but how an advertiser effectively reaches a consumer at the right time and right place to influence that purchase depends more and more on its audience strategy and how well they know its target consumer". So, it's becoming increasingly important to look at why a purchase was made, just as much as how and where, in order to build a relationship that can last beyond a single season.