Latest E-commerce trends in 2018

Karthik Nath
10 July 2018

In 2017, global retail e-commerce sales were amounted to be 2.3 trillion USD and the revenues are expected to grow to 4.88 trillion USD by 2021. The e-commerce industry has only shown growth in the market with absolutely no signs of coming down.

Unlike the earlier times, brands cannot compete now without offering excellent online options for customers considering their convenience. According to statistics, 56% of in-store purchases are influenced by digital commerce and if you’re not reaching your customers online, you could be losing almost half of your potential audience.

To cope up with the rapid changes and growth in e-commerce, posting static images to show you’re product online and expecting your ideal customers to find them isn’t enough. With the help of emerging trends in 2018, you could actually give a kickstart towards a major growth of your business. We have chosen selective trends that could help you understand the changing psyche of people about how they think and sell.

  • Shopping congenitally: According to an experiment in 2017, it was found that native video content was favoured 160 times more than non-native content. Great visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have been used by millions of customers since it is preferred truly for e-commerce and those users surely don’t want to leave the platforms to visit your site. So, isn’t it a good option to offer your products on those platforms for customers to purchase?

Talking about congenital or native shopping, one such example is of Pinterest’s Shop The Look feature. Whenever you like an outfit you see in a picture, just click on that part of the outfit and find details about it if you’re interested in purchasing it within the Pinterest app. You can exit the app as soon as you’re ready to buy it or you can pin it for later.

  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality: What if you can see a product in-store in your home even before purchasing it? Augmented reality and Virtual reality are going to standardize for companies to offer in some time since they both are getting some real traction this year.

IKEA, a furniture and home accessories portal, offers an AR app which lets you place 3D products in your home. The products are true-to-scale so that you can see how the products fit into your home space. As the e-commerce industry grows, these benefits are worth the initial investments in new technology. Customers are anyway going to buy from companies which allow them to visually test out products before buying them.

  • Automated Online Ordering – Chatbots: With more than 4 billion people using social media, it definitely makes sense to grab the benefits of using chatbots for marketing, customer service and sales in e-commerce. Starbucks has come up with its mobile app (not just for iOS and Android, but also for Windows) this year, in which you can interact with the company’s chatbot via texts or voice.

You can place your order directly if you know what you want to have. The chatbot lets you know when your order is ready and gives your order total to be super helpful. In case you’re having a related business which makes sense, it’s suggested to create a chatbot. This could become a mainstream way of ordering and lose some of its current novelty power.

  • Voice Search: Before making an online purchase, 40% of millennials are already using voice search method. Voice-activated devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are already being used as a preferred method of search. It is critical to use voice search in 2018 for businesses or they could lose a vast majority of consumers who are shopping through such devices.

One such example using the voice-activated device is Dunkin’ Donut which integrated with Google Assistant to order in the mobile app. Dunkin’ Donuts is allowing to order via Google Assistant for now and is planning to have Google Home in use. It’s important to ensure that the business listing is updated on Google to reach local searchers since it is 3 times to be local.

  • Keep Mobile primary: As mobile purchasing is growing continuously, it’s important for the business to have an e-commerce site which is optimized for mobiles. 62% of smartphone users have made an online purchase within the last six months.

Fingerprint and one-click payments have simplified mobile payments and have further encouraged customers to switch from desktop to mobile. It is estimated that mobiles will reach 70% of e-commerce traffic by this year only and it’ll become the most preferred method for e-commerce transactions. Starbucks made the Mobile Order ad Pay app in 2015 through which 30% of all Starbucks orders were paid in 2017. If mobile ordering leads to a larger pool of in-store customers, then it’s a worthwhile investment in future.

  • Research Online, Purchase Offline (ROPO): ROPO is an advanced and reliable tool which can help retailers accurately measure how well their digital ads are contributing to in-store sales. ROPO combines information from social media, mobile tracking/geolocation, mobile payments, in-store inventory, analytics tools, CRM systems, and more, to figure out which ads and site pages led consumers to in-store purchases.

By knowing which digital ads are most efficiently contributing to sales, e-commerce businesses can create higher-conversion, more targeted campaigns, and feel confident that what they’re doing online is meaningful to their consumers.

  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: We actually come across machine learning and AI almost every day but just don’t realize it. Let’s talk about Netflix. Netflix has created 1,300 ‘taste communities’ rather than dividing viewers on the basis of age, gender, or location. It makes recommendations on a similar movie or TV show preferences based on what’s most trending in that community for the viewers.

It is expected in the future that the content will be divided by machine learning and artificial intelligence, so the consumers are fed only the content they’re interested in. Other e-commerce platforms will soon see personal benefits of using machine learning and algorithms to uncover which content they should deliver to which audience.

  • Image search: Since e-commerce is inclining towards mobiles, companies will soon offer the customers to visually search for products by using personal photos or any image found online. Predictions tell that image and voice search will make up 50%of all searches by 2020. As image search offers opportunities for customers to find similar products at a cheaper price online, it could really drive customers to shop online even if they started looking for the product in a physical store.

Many e-commerce platforms have already started with successfully implementing image search functions into their online platforms. Pinterest, for example, has its own image search function on Pinterest. You can zoom in on a particular product and find similar products. Target will eventually integrate the same technology to allow customers to search for an image and find similar products in Target’s online catalogue.

  • High-Quality Product Videos: Even when customers are shopping in-store, they have some questions related to the product’s functionality and design which they’ll surely have when shopping online. To answer all such doubts, one of the easiest ways is to do it through a video. A high-quality video is the best way to sell your product.

An example is Redsbaby, an Australian baby stroller company, which display actors using Redsbaby strollers throughout a typical day in their videos. The customers feel confident that they know and understand what they’re purchasing, despite they’ve never seen it in-store.

  • Same-Day or Next-Day Delivery: To promise same-day delivery to their customers, Amazon opened a ton of new shipping centres near major cities. It has been reported that Google will launch a competitive same-day delivery service, “Google Shopping Express”. Google Shopping Express will offer same-day delivery from stores like Walmart and Target. Most of the people, with their increasing income, are actually comfortable in paying extra for same-day delivery.

As such big-name e-commerce sites offer same-day delivery and it becomes a norm, they’d win a major part of their customers who want their needs met fast. So, it’s possible if you don’t offer the same delivery service to your customers, they’ll turn to them who would!

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