E-commerce is one of the fastest growing things on earth. Keep up to speed with these e-commerce trends that we are bound to see more of in 2018.
Global e-commerce is growing at a breath-taking rate. In 2016, global sales grew 2.4 percent. The United Kingdom had the highest numbers. Online shopping was 76 percent of total retail sales. Comparable increases are expected for 2018. Merchants must keep up with the latest e-commerce trends to remain competitive.
Here are 15 e-commerce trends for 2018.
1. Animated Objects
E-commerce should take a note from the gaming industry and add animation to its solutions toolkit. In game design, motion attracts players and then provides the player's feedback. Similar principles apply to e-commerce. Motion is a signal to consumers, whether that be of satisfaction, emotion, or urgency.
For example, Etsy has animated icons that notify shoppers when an item is almost sold out. Animation makes e-commerce shopping more engaging. The animation should be subtle so that it does engage rather than annoy.
2. Sharper Video and Photography
Original images and the occasional video appear on merchant websites. One of this year's entertaining e-commerce trends is upping the game on photos and videos. You will see more high-resolution content on e-commerce sites, like 360-degree images. Another is an animated GIF that shows a product's features.
Videos can be demonstrations or include short testimonials. From here the variations are endless. There is a convenient marketing by-product for this trend. Companies can load the content on YouTube and drive traffic through their channel.
3. Social Media Shopping
Social media has had a massive impact on society as a whole, and there is more of the same coming in 2018. "Social shopping," as it's called, will grow in 2008, making one of the largest e-commerce trends.
Pinterest and Instagram are already established social platforms. They let business owners display their products without seeming like advertisements. Their customers spend a great deal of time there already. Why not let them see featured products while they are there? Pinterest already has "buyable pins."
Soon you will be able to purchase something from other sites like Instagram. If you like what you see, you will be able to buy the item on the spot - without switching to another app.
4. Automated Marketing Tools
Automated tools are one way to automate marketing processes and thus increase Return on Investment (ROI). More than ever, merchants are using social media to increase traffic to their sites.
Virtual assistant programs can automate email marketing. It can also target social media ad campaigns. Shopify's virtual assistant, Kit, can do those things plus integrate with other Shopify apps.
Also, over half of shoppers prefer using messenger apps for contacting businesses. They prefer them over email, contacts forms, and phone. In this light, chat-bots are a way to satisfy customers while increasing ROI for merchants.
5. Machine Learning
Machine learning and automation go together. It's no surprise that machine learning is one of the e-commerce trends for 2018. Merchants can use machine learning to make decisions that convert customers. Machine learning is a variation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). It gives systems the ability to learn and improve from experience rather than by being programmed.
Companies can use machine learning to gather detailed data on customers. It can note what customers view, order, and with what frequency. It will also note how they rate products during reviews. The system can then use this data to enhance the customer experience. Shopping becomes more personalised and customers can find what they need quickly.
6. Voice Search on the Rise
Thanks to Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa, voice search is gaining popularity. It's not expected to go anywhere but up in 2018. This past holiday season, Amazon's Echo Dot was one of the most purchased technology gift items.
In fact, Walmart announced a partnership with Google. Customers can shop through Google's voice assistant. The focus is on product reorders. At present, over 40 percent of millennials use voice search at some point during online purchases. With the rising popularity of voice search and mobile commerce (discussed below), retailers have to optimise their online stores for both.
When programming for voice search, retailers have to observe customers' dialogue on its social media channels. Then, mirror their language to optimise voice search on the product site.
7. Mobile Commerce Becoming Primary
For 2018, the primary focus will be on mobile shopping over desktop. It used to be the other way around. Now the trend is to build the best mobile experience, then update the desktop version.
Predicted revenue for mobile shopping is over £430 million. That equates to over 40 percent of all e-commerce revenue coming from mobile shopping.
8. SMS Communication with Customers
Number eight on the e-commerce trends list is increased communication from retailers to customers via SMS. Currently, customers must enter an email address when ordering. Retailers use the email to remind customers about items left in their carts or for other marketing messages.
This new trend means integrating a customer's phone number into the shopping and marketing processes. Email campaigns won't go away. Though, expect the technology to add conveniences for the customer using their phone numbers.
9. One-Click Checkout
Thanks to the convenient payment options like Shopify Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal, checkout is becoming easier and faster. The most well-known is Amazon's 1-Click ordering. Of all the e-commerce trends, this one will continue into 2018. Customers prefer one-click purchasing. Why not? It makes online shopping easy and fast. This, paired with optimised mobile shopping will please customers and retailers alike.
Once the customer clicks the "buy" button, the rest happens for them. Customers have already entered payment preferences, so the rest of the transaction is automated. For example, Shopify has streamlined the payment process so much that the customer only has to fill out two fields.
This is a convenience, but it also increases sales due to impulse buys and ease of ordering.
10. B2B On-board with E-commerce
Despite all the advancements in online shopping, B2B is one industry that, until now, has remained old-school. Wholesalers still work with their trade customers the old fashioned way, over-the-phone and with paper forms.
More vendors are looking to move their order online in 2018. Also, some B2B platforms will allow customers to shop from several vendors at one time. There are some kinks to work out yet. Though, the overall user experience would be more functional than B2C, but also include features like rapid reorder, etc.
Finally, another key to this trend is to keep the personalisation that customers come to expect from B2B vendors. One of the best ways to do that is to offer customised, dynamic pricing. Price algorithms create dynamic pricing that takes into account a customer's purchasing habits.
11. Increased Delivery Options
Thanks in large part to Amazon's Prime delivery, consumers have come to expect two-day and even same-day delivery. Delivery start-up companies are increasing. Larger retailers are expanding their distribution centres. Of all the e-commerce trends, the rising competition for immediate delivery makes this one fiercely competitive.
12. Better Web Performance
Performance and user experience are linked. One doesn't work without the other. While other trends have to do with aesthetics like photos and amination, performance will be equally enhanced.
Customers don't want to wait for a page to load. Even a couple hundred milliseconds of lag can be enough to lose a customer. Companies need to stay ahead of the competition regarding web performance.
13. Diversity Across Brands
Across industries, brands understand the power of diversity in its products and advertising. The strength at which companies apply this understanding makes this one of the strongest e-commerce trends for this year.
Companies are embracing their customers, and reflecting them in their ads. Models reflect the ethnicities, ages, and even body types of their target customer base. For example, Everlane is a clothing retailer. Their ads feature photos of models who are different sizes and complexions. Customers can see how Everlane's clothes look on different body types and sizes.
14. A Seamless Omni-channel
Merchants want to be able to link their online store to their physical store. They want a comprehensive solution that makes everything work together as one system. This eliminates multiple fees and maintains inventory control. Shopify does this well. It requires no technical setup for merchants. They are up and running within in a day.
A merchant can apply customer loyalty programs to online and in-store customers without double effort. Or, a customer can buy a product online but pick it up at the store or at a local popup event. Customers expect their buying experience to be the same whether in-store or online. Omni-channel makes that happen.
15. Return to Customer Service
Even in the midst of all the fancy technology options, brands will create quality content over bells and whistles. In short, they will focus on the customer. Serving the customer will take precedence over wowing them with flashy technology.
That's not to say websites are going to be stripped of animations and other technologies. Rather, designers will use the appropriate technology for the best customer experience. For example, a website won't use animation to show off. Rather, website designers will use it selectively to enhance a customer's spatial perception of the product.
Put These E-commerce Trends to Use
There are other trends buzzing around, such as increased use of block-chain and cryptocurrency, and new SEO strategies. This article presented 15 of the e-commerce trends that we think will make the most significant impact.
If you'd like to learn more about any of these, please contact us.