Desktop e-commerce sales have begun to hit a plateau, but ecommerce merchants shouldn’t worry as mobile sales are doing fantastic. The rise in mobile sales has had a dramatically positive effect on online retail sales overall: sales are expected to grow from $2.3 trillion in 2017 to $4 trillion by 2020. Mobile is powering this new era of sales growth, and new e-commerce trends are fueling it all. Over half of the American population now prefers to buy their goods and services online, and only 56% of online stores have an actual physical store.
The rise of e-commerce means that businesses can reach more customers than ever before without the need for a physical presence in a major city. Businesses can cut costs while increasing sales by focusing more on e-commerce and developing their brand. But which e-commerce trends should brands be keying in on in 2018? And how will these trends help brands get a leg up on the competition?
We’ve compiled a list of ten of the biggest e-commerce trends for 2018. New trends like chatbots (which are a form of artificial intelligence) and greater customer use of voice assistants (such as Siri and Alexa) to make purchases will speed up changes as the e-commerce industry rushes to adapt. Chatbots, for example, could quickly answer customer questions online instead of prompting customers to call a sales representative. Let’s take a closer look at these trends and why businesses need to be prepared for them as 2018 rolls around:
Shoppers are using more online channels than ever. They aren’t just logging on to your website and then making a purchase. They visit your website, then visit social media, then change devices, from their smartphone to a tablet, watch a streaming movie, and then decide whether or not to make a purchase. Can your brand cut through the noise and stay on the mind of your potential customer? To do so, you must integrate channels. An example of this could be having cookie-enabled ads that allow retargeting. So, if a user puts a hat in their shopping cart on your site and doesn’t buy it, they’ll be served ads for the same hat when they log on to Facebook or Instagram. That’s omnichannel marketing.
Shoppers will be conducting more online research
According to Salesforce, 85% of shoppers research a product or service before they make a purchasing decision online. Which means that online content is extremely important. Having a blog helps tremendously, because you can provide valuable insights about your products and services that your potential customers can read before they decide to take the plunge. You should know that your prospects are also going to be reading up on your competitors’ sites, so you should be prepared to offer competitive rates and strong service.
Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence that is making things easier for businesses and consumers alike. In the past, if consumers had a question, they would either have to read through the entire website or make a call to a customer service representative. Neither of these options was particularly appealing, especially with the possibility that it could take a long period of time to reach a resolution. Chatbots simplify the process for everyone. They can answer questions for prospects as they browse on your website, making them feel more comfortable and even more prepared to buy. Look for chatbots to get more sophisticated as the years go by.
Half of e-commerce will come from mobile
Research has predicted that mobile commerce will be about half of all e-commerce by 2018. That is because more internet users are accessing the web and shopping from their mobile devices instead of using a desktop computer. The rise in mobile presents opportunities for businesses, but they have to make sure they are prepared as well. For example, e-commerce sites must be optimized for mobile. Optimized sites will function both on desktops and mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. If a site is not optimized for mobile, the layout might look unworkable or unattractive.
Higher levels of personalization
Customers don’t want to feel like they are buying something from a nameless, faceless corporation. They want to build a relationship with a brand and cultivate that relationship over time. That’s why personalization is important. It allows companies to build a relationship with their customers that they might not have been able to do otherwise. Personalization might be sending a special email on a birthday or providing coupons for specific products that a customer has shown interest in previously. Major brands like Amazon and Netflix show personalization by using past preferences to offer new recommendations for products and movies.
Big data and analytics
Big data and analytics are revolutionizing many industries, and e-commerce is no different. Analytics allows companies to figure out more about their customers and their behaviors over time. With more data about their target audience and their preferences, companies can shift their strategies to become more efficient and targeted. For example, companies can learn more about specific segments and figure out what drives them to make a purchase. An e-commerce retailer might use analytics to figure out what is driving mothers with young children to make sports purchases for their kids in the summer, for instance.
Using voice assistants to make purchases
Voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa in the smart home space have changed how consumers make purchases; especially millennials. A growing number of millennials have already used a voice assistant to make a purchase, or to research information before they make a buying decision. Voice assistants often use search engines to provide their users with relevant data. That means your business needs to have a significant online presence with significant information about your products and services available. Without that information, your customers might not be able to find information on your business when asking a voice assistant.
Increasing the speed of delivery
Customers want their products faster than ever. Amazon Prime offers delivery on the same day as the order, and Walmart allows customers to pick up orders at their physical stores. Look for more e-commerce operations to offer delivery within 24 hours as an option for customers. Businesses are aware of customer preferences and will be moving to expedite the shipping process.
Greater use of video
The marketing experts at Kissmetrics found that video could have a significant positive impact on conversion rates. Consumers are often too lazy to read through a long block of text or listen to audio alone. But they are willing to watch videos, and using video to describe your products and services can have a dramatic effect on your conversion rates. Video isn’t nearly as expensive to produce these days, and several apps allow you to shoot and edit high quality video right from your smartphone or tablet.
More storefront apps over mobile sites
Storefront apps have shown to outperform mobile web conversion rates by as much as 40%. This means that a business that does not have its own dedicated app is not maximizing its potential. Businesses should invest in developing their own apps instead of pushing consumers to try and make purchases from a mobile web browser like Safari. Apps also allow for greater functionality and customization for businesses, which can use these tools to offer more personalization for customers as well as push notifications, recommendations for customers, and beacons based on geo-location.
E-commerce should be a major focus for all retail businesses, and 2018 will provide unique opportunities for companies that make use of these trends. For example, companies that use big data and analytics to make determinations about what their customers want will have an advantage over companies that do not. Businesses that use higher levels of personalization to reach their customers with a special discount offer on a birthday will perform better than those that do not. And at the end of the day, that is why these trends are truly important – companies that do not pick up these trends will end up left behind by the mainstream, unable to compete with their rivals who embrace modern trends.
The good news for businesses looking to stay up on the times with e-commerce is that none of these trends are tremendously cost prohibitive. Businesses can now afford to use CRM software that tracks consumer behavior. They can afford to develop videos for their products and services as well, whereas several years ago video was a more expensive medium. The rapid development of technology has allowed for these trends to become readily available and applicable to a wide range of scenarios. Companies looking to gain an edge would be wise to find an e-commerce trend that fits their particular strategy and implement it.Tags: eCommerce, ecommerce business, ecommerce trends