eCommerce Trends for 2018

What to expect in the world of online spending

Marketing for ecommerce goes through changes and trends fairly quickly. It’s all about getting that user to make the purchase whilst browsing online. There are many tactics to help brands expand their ability to obtain and keep customers. Technology’s sophistication is usually the catalyst for ecommerce change. As technology becomes more available and easier to use, so does the entire online customer experience. In fact, 51 percent of shoppers prefer to shop online, helping ecommerce grow 23 percent year-over-year. Whether you’re a huge brand or a startup, there’s opportunity in ecommerce. As we move into 2018, here are the trends we think you should most consider.

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) will create a new customer experience

AR and VR are pretty savvy technology options. Everyone wants to experience a different reality. By 2018, the total number of AR and VR users could reach 200 million. This very unique technology is creating a new customer experience. Because of this, it’s a great fit for ecommerce.

Consider how it could work with clothing or other items where size matters. Users could experience a 3D representation of the outfit or see how a shelf would fit on their wall. This helps a customer understand what will fit and look right. By providing this experience, merchants may also see lower return rates.

Mobile purchases expected to grow

Purchases on mobile devices will only increase. It’s so easy to browse on the go with mobile and make a mobile purchase, so why would a consumer switch to a different device? In fact, 62 percent of smartphone owners have made a purchase on a mobile device in the last six months. It offers convenience like never before, something that is highly valued during the busy holiday season in particular. In 2015, one third of all ecommerce purchases during the holidays were made on a smartphone.

The only barrier that brands have when it comes to mobile purchases is the interface. How easy are you making it for a user to make a mobile online purchase? When it comes to check out, does your application pull up the number screen or letter screen. That one small change could increase your conversions.

Making it all about the customer: personalisation through data

Personalisation is a huge trend in marketing across the board. When it comes to shopping online, it may be even more important. If you can make any user feel like the experience was just for them then you’re more likely to be building a long-term relationship with that customer. It’s not that easy, but there are many ways to approach it. Much of personalisation depends on your ability to track a buyer’s habits and actions.

Software that allows for tracking is a great investment. It can help you set up funnels and alerts for when a particular user lands somewhere or takes a certain action. The data behind the scenes of a buyer’s interactions allows you to understand what they like. You can show them their favourite brands that you carry, for example, or a protein shake they’ve purchased before and that now has a new flavour. It becomes an online concierge experience.

Not only can data of past buying habits dictate what a user is shown, it has larger implications for brands. It can help them develop a optimal pricing structure.

Supply chain optimisation

eCommerce lives and dies by its operations and supply chain. The distribution model of ecommerce is going to continue to evolve. And not just in sensational ways like drone delivery. Think about how many things you could go online and buy right now that would be delivered quickly. One of the biggest elements of an optimised ecommerce supply chain is automation. Automation helps remove redundant actions, creating a more efficient cost-effective system.

Supply chains will also be able to look at data holistically. For each location, current stock would be known and what items are in the shipping process.  Having this data helps you meet customer expectations seamlessly. Delivering something time-sensitive late is a great way to lose a customer. Reduce that risk in your supply chain.

Purchasing via digital assistant

You can now ask Siri or Alexa to order something for you. All a buyer needs to do is ask the question! Making it this easy to shop online is what the future holds. Digital assistants can also sync with other smart IoT (Internet of Things) appliances. Your refrigerator can tell Alexa that you’re out of butter, for example. The use of voice assistants is rising. Much of which could be attributed to convenience.

Buyers also use voice assistants to research products. With this consideration, you’ll want to think about voice search optimisation. We’ve got some ideas from our SEO trends article. You can read it here. Voice search has been shown to be more popular with the millennial generation as they are considered early adopters.

Chatbots answer questions, help you buy

The global chatbot market has grown to 24.3% of CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate). Chatbots provide help and answer questions without a user having to make much effort. It goes back to convenience. Chatbots are also less expensive to use for ordinary, daily questions versus a staff of customer service representatives. Online businesses are using chatbots for conversations outside of simple FAQs. Chatbots can offer customers content, suggest a purchase, offer a coupon or communicate a message.

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) must be easy and smooth

How easy is it to do business with you online? Have you ever considered it from the customer’s side. Often, it’s hard to remove your own bias of being an expert. That’s why it’s important to seek counsel from UX and UI experts. Through testing and data, you can easily optimise the UX for your guests. Most changes initiated now on an ecommerce site are small, almost unrecognizable. Little tweaks to make it easier to do a common action like ‘go back’ or ‘add to favorites’.

Every button and function are part of the UX. You should consider both the small and the large. Think about the way in which products are displayed online. Are the images clear? Is it easy to scroll? How many pages must someone go through to checkout? Ask these questions and more to create the best experience.

eCommerce has many facets. Each element has to work well in order for a brand to see significant profits. In 2018, there will be even more shoppers online. Will your brand reap the rewards? Utilise the best of these trends presented; ones that will work for your brand and your customer.

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