Marketplace apps powering sales
The first half of 2018 saw the greatest number of shopping app downloads ever, with over 2 billion across IOS and Android. Furthermore, mobile shopping sessions have risen by 45% globally in the last quarter. These new statistics signify how Marketplace apps have become the driving force behind retail sales. Shopping has become a mobile-first industry.
The success of marketplace apps is due to their clever use of mobile technology. Apps from brands like eBay, Amazon and Wish encourage shoppers to use their smartphone cameras to snap products, geo-locate sellers and buyers, send secure messages and set up notifications to alert them of potential offers. In turn, smartphone manufacturers have recognised this behaviour and are now developing features that improve the shopping experience. For example, most new smartphones support virtual and augmented reality tech that enables shoppers to try before they buy. Consequently, overcoming the major reason why people still prefer to shop for clothes on the high street - the inconvenience of returning items.
All this evidence highlights the importance of brands being visible in marketplaces and providing a mobile-first experience. Otherwise, with more people shopping on mobile and choosing marketplace apps to do so, they risk being ignored.
Amazon algorithm update
Amazon continuously adjusts its A9 algorithm to improve the customer experience. The latest update this month puts a stop to the keyword stuffing we've seen in some categories. Previously, product listings were weighted according to the following priority: Title, backend keywords, bullet points and description. This meant there was a more positive ranking for products that contained search terms in the title. The new algorithm update means that Amazon relies now more on the keyword specific performance of a product (e.g. click rate, conversion rate and sales). The focus now lies more on readability, instead of spamming keywords (especially in the title). This is good news for responsible brands that place emphasis on the well-written and understood content and bad news for merchants that are trying to cheat the algorithm.
Amazon are trying to solve the clothing shopping dilemma. Do you go to the mall to try on clothes before you buy them? Or do you buy online, try them on at home and then return for a refund? Both have their flaws. Visiting a shopping centre take time out of your day, are often crowded and have a limited selection. Online shopping comes with shipping fees, return shipping fees and the hassle of returning what you don't like. Amazon is trying to solve these problems with Amazon Prime Wardrobe. You fill a box with clothes, shoes and accessories, it is shipped to you free and you don't pay anything up front. You try on everything in the comfort of your own home and then send back what you don't want. You have to take 3 items minimum and have 7 days to make your decision. Before you pack up your unwanted stuff to send back, you'll need to complete a checkout process through Amazon's website or mobile app. You mark off what you want to keep and what you don't, and then pay for your items. Returns are really easy, there is a prepaid return label included and the box has adhesive strips to close it up. Once it's pack you just drop it off with your chosen courier.
Amazon Wardrobe is yet another example of how Amazon is trying to make online clothes shopping easier and thus convincing more fashion shoppers to choose Amazon
Echo gets an upgrade
Amazon has revamped the Echo with new features and more power. The new Echo Plus adopts a softer aesthetic with a new fabric cover on the outside. It is available in three colours: charcoal, heather grey, and sandstone. It's also shorter and wider than the original version. The new device has a local voice function, which means that it works when the internet is down. It has a built-in temperature sensor, which will allow you to take indoor temperature readings. The sound quality has been improved, so it has stronger bass and lower distortion, and you can even fine tune the sound with your voice. The Echo Plus still has all the built-in Alexa functions of its predecessor, so you can still ask it to control lighting, make a call, check the weather, look things up, plus a lot more.
In a similar way that smartphone manufacturers responded to user behaviour by constantly improving the camera function (and as result disrupting the camera market), Amazon are doing the same with sound on the Echo, every new model has better sound quality, removing the need for a separate sound system.