Here’s what Mary Meeker’s annual report on internet trends means for the ecommerce industry

By Marc Hummel

June 9, 2016

Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report (embedded below) is an annual must-read for anyone working in digital.

Here’s how the Washington Post describes the report:

[The] report has become something of a rite of summer. Every year, Meeker, a leading venture capital analyst, comes up with an extraordinary collection of data on a wide range of topics in the innovation economy, revealing in broad and specific terms where the internet and related technologies are and where they are going.

The full report spans 213 pages and covers advertising, global growth trends, connected cars, and more. The full report is definitely worth a read. In this post, we’ll break down the key insights for retail ecommerce professionals—and add our two cents as well.

1. Products become brands… Brands become retailers… Retailers become products…

In this slide (#63), Ms. Meeker explores the productification of brands, and vice versa. Warby Parker is the brand, the product, and the retailer.

Meeker page 63

It also represents the current blueprint for disruption, and should be taken seriously by retailers of all stripes. Warby Parker started as a direct-to-consumer brand, and wasn’t viewed as a threat by established brick-and-mortar operations, eye doctors, or the other players in the customer purchase journey for eyewear. Now look at them…

Ditto with Amazon.

2. The state of ecommerce in China

In a series of slides (starting with #170), Meeker lays out some interesting facts about ecommerce in China. Chinese pure-play ecommerce firms dominate overall retail spend, while brick-and-mortar retailers still reign supreme in the U.S.

Meeker report slide 170

Social commerce is also a fast-growing part of the ways Chinese consumers interact with brands. WeChat influences at least 55% of all ecommerce purchases.

Meeker slide 172

Will conversational commerce in the U.S. catch up to China, or is this behavior explained by cultural differences? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

3. The efficiency of online advertising still has a long way to go

The 2016 Meeker report spends a good amount of time on advertising, especially mobile, Snapchat, and video ads, which many consumers are just still tuning out:

Meeker slide 45

The report also includes some impressive examples of successful ad campaigns from brands marketing to Spotify and Snapchat users. There are more options than ever now for brands to find platforms that align with their target demographic, and more ways to target them at an even more granular level after that.

4. How algorithms are impacting retail

Some impressive stats from Stitch Fix, whose sales are driven 100% by product recommendations:

Meeker slide 69

We think this is just the beginning of data-driven marketing. The quickly evolving capabilities of machine learning and advanced algorithms mean that the power to make smart, real-time decisions will extend far beyond more obvious implementations (like Stitch Fix, a company whose emphasis is personal style).

5. Image-based commerce

Shopping via image-based platforms like Pinterest and Instagram is on the rise.

Meeker report slide 92

But we still have a long ways to go before shopping via these platforms is truly a frictionless experience. But it seems like these platforms are well poised to capitalize on any improvements to that buying experience. The shoppers are already there.

That’s all, folks

That concludes our wrap up of the Mary Meeker’s 2016 internet trends report. Check out the full report below, and let us know what your takeaways are in the comments or on Twitter.

Marc Hummel is a former Content Marketing Associate for Monetate. He's also a part-time grad student at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys biking to work, reading, listening to podcasts/music, and eating ice cream. Usually not all at once. For more about Marc, go here.

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