Like most other technologies that have grown at an accelerated rate in the past decade, ecommerce has managed to proliferate in an astounding manner. It has grown into a global phenomenon that is likely to be worth $4.5 trillion by 2021, as numbers on Statista reveal.
Here are the trends that are gathering steam in the ecommerce landscape in 2018:
1. Mobile optimization
It’s official, mobile is king. Mobile shopping is the fastest growing ecommerce segment. Trends indicate that it will soon overtake sales through desktop websites. US mobile ecommerce sales will possibly constitute 53.9% of all ecommerce sales by 2021. That’s why companies are scrambling to get their mobile apps in order. Creating a seamless hassle-free experience for the customer on mobile will be the priority for any company involved in the business of selling things online.
2. Better visual content
It’s no surprise that better images lead to increased sales. Good, high-quality images of your products will provide positive information about them to your target customer. There can be many innovative ways to integrate quality visual content on ecommerce software. Developments may include using high-quality 360o GIFs of the product to convey its features. Sellers of niche products can feature photos of their products taken by loyal users.
3. SEO and content optimization
Big sellers win easily when it comes to SEO with short tail keywords because of their established domain authority. But that doesn’t mean that smaller businesses or niche sellers can’t use these tools to boost their growth significantly, especially with long tail keywords. These companies will try to optimize their product pages into landing pages with high conversion rates. Ecommerce sellers will want to create better content that is optimized for search as well as for shareability on social media.
4. Machine learning + AI
The noise over the changes brought by AI and machine learning is deafening. There is barely a sector that has not been affected by these two elements. And ecommerce is no exception. Here, a greater utilization of AI in the form of chatbots can be expected. These can help to resolve customer queries and direct them to specific pages. In tandem with AI, machine learning can be used to know customers better and increase their conversion rate. Ecommerce retailers should be ready for the innumerable forthcoming developments in both of these technologies.
5. AR (augmented reality)
Augmented Reality, or AR, will be a huge trend in 2018. More and more brands are rolling out AR features. Customers will now be able to see exactly what their desired product looks like in their home/office. This should increase sales of bigger items like furniture and lead to reduction of returns as well. Amazon and IKEA already have excellent AR features. Other companies will follow their lead.
6. Search by image and voice
Both Voice and Image Search will come into their own this year. Instead of typing, many consumers will prefer to search using voice or images. The increasing popularity of virtual assistants will cause an increasing number of customers to resort directly to Alexa and Google Assistant to place an order. In this case, companies will have to adapt their SEO strategy because there will be a single answer instead of the traditional results page with many. Ecommerce retailers will definitely incorporate image-based search into their apps and websites. Image search increases the scope of purchasing as there is no language barrier to the discovery of products. It is also incredibly convenient for the customer who does not have to spend time looking for the brand or make of a specific product.
7. Easier checkout
Mobile optimization is the first step in a series of steps towards delivering the best customer experience. Amazon’s famous one-click purchasing patent expired in September 2017. Online sellers can seize this opportunity and integrate some version of a one-click checkout with the multitude of payment options available on their platform. If customers do not have to enter their details at the time of each purchase, the process will acquire the speed of lightning. It’s an incredibly convenient feature to have, and most ecommerce sites are already looking to incorporate it into their offerings.
8. Faster delivery
Amazon has managed to disrupt ecommerce and online retailing through its exceptional on-time deliveries. Other retailers, however, are grappling with the Amazon effect because they now expect the same kind of lightning-fast deliveries from every other service provider. Thus, more retailers will start tying up with delivery startups and strengthening their logistics functions to keep up with their customers’ needs.
9. Seamless omnichannel management
Simply put, omnichannel refers to retailers that have digital as well as physical presence. Many retailers will want to grow omnichannel to make their presence felt everywhere. According to the report by BigCommerce, in 2017, online shoppers spent the most with ecommerce marketplaces ($488), closely followed by large retailers such as Nordstrom or Best Buy ($409). Also, despite the ubiquity of online shopping, American shoppers spend 64% of their budget in store and 36% online.
Retailers are picking up on how beneficial an omnichannel presence can be. Most of them are looking to expand their presence from a single digital platform presence to a multi-channel one and then to an omnichannel one. As pointed out by the Harvard Business Review study, shoppers who engage in more channels tend to purchase more often and end up having better customer experience.
For ecommerce retailers, word-of-mouth and referrals are generated through customer reviews; a bad review can seriously dent your sales. Hence, every step should be taken to enrich the customer experience. All the trends we looked into are bound by the shared idea of serving the customer’s needs first. And keeping up with those trends when developing and running your ecommerce platform will generate positive customer experience and encourage repeat business.
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