We are in the fourth decade of the digital revolution with the explosion in internet use and social media leading to the exponential growth in e-commerce all around the world.

According to this article in the Jornal Económico, the key words in e-commerce in 2018 are content, commerce, community, context, personalisation and vertical research.

After analysing the results achieved by e-commerce in Portugal in 2017, ACEPI has revealed the main trends expected for this area in 2018.

This 4th digital decade, dominated by the exponential growth in internet use and social media, has led to a variety of e-commerce models, from those used by businesses to sell to other businesses (B2B) to those used to sell to consumers (B2C) and the government (B2G).

But it is the customer experience which raises the most concerns compared to traditional business models as digital transformation has significantly altered the way consumers communicate with each other and with brands, and in the way they shop.

As the article in the Jornal Económico points out, besides the new profile of the customer 4.0, Alexandre Nilo da Fonseca, president of ACEPI, feels that e-commerce will also “profoundly consolidate itself in 2018” reflecting the rapid digital transformation that is taking place throughout the economy and which is dominated by the cloud, mobile, big data and social media.

If you want to be successful in the digitised world of 2018, ACEPI has a few tips for you: “New audiences and sources of income; new business models; development of customer-focused products and services; CRM; omnichannel strategies; operational efficiency; new human resource skills and talents; and new distribution channels.”

It is also expected that there will be an improvement, or even a stabilisation, of the e-commerce experience via various devices, such as starting a purchase on your phone and finishing it on a desktop computer (or the other way around!). This way, it is imperative that these new business models take into account not only the online aspect but also social networks, mobile and physical shops (which will tend to become increasingly like showrooms).

Alexandre Nilo da Fonseca suggests, therefore, that “in this context, you need to know your customers very well, provide better recommendations, use thorough and extensive forecasting systems, and take advantage of the benefits offered by big data.”

Finally, he also stresses the fact that consumers want to be able to shop in any channel in the same way, and the same products or services, with the same type of customer service, payment and delivery. The challenge facing retailers here, therefore, is to plot a course so they can offer increasingly tailored and consistent experiences across all channels, improving loyalty and earnings.