With more people buying online than ever, brick and mortar stores have begun to move their businesses online en masse. In 2018, the trends that we saw in 2017, such as adoption of newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and Big Data, and making websites more mobile friendly will become commonplace. In addition, we will also see the emergence of newer trends that we have listed below. These e-commerce trends not only address the pain points of online stores but will also help shoppers to find products they want to buy quickly and efficiently.
1. Using novel methods to optimize conversion
Conversion optimization will depend on a number of factors such as access to consumer behavior, purchase trends, website usage behavior, and innovative product development. To gain access to these diverse datasets, e-commerce businesses will increasingly depend on data mining techniques both online and offline.
Data extraction and data mining techniques help to gain useful insights such as:
• More than 50% of millennials are likely to make purchases on social media
• 54% of Americans have shopped online
Source: Big Commerce
2. Investing in software programs that help scale
As e-commerce businesses that started out a while ago have begun to taste success, 2017 saw a lot of them beginning to scale and expand. 2018 will see these businesses investing in ERP and CRM to automate most of their manual functions, and enable both front and back-end operations to take place quickly. After all, a growing business often finds it difficult to manage the increasing number of orders, necessitating software programs that help in automating.
• 81% of businesses surveyed plan to implement ERP or have already done it.
• 65% of companies that use CRM meet or exceed their sales quotas.
3. Focus on image-based social media tools such as Instagram
While most e-commerce stores have so far focused on Facebook and Twitter to market, an increasing number of online stores will begin to concentrate on image-based networking tools such as Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. In particular, Instagram marketing will see a growing interest among e-commerce retailers. Marketing databases reveal a higher correlation with business Instagram use and increased sales.
• More than 600 million people use Instagram
• More than 70% of businesses will use Instagram as part of marketing initiatives
4. Niche product development
Developing products that make difference to the lives of customers, and selling such unique products will become the mainstay of online retailers. The focus will be on gaining customer intelligence, so that niche products can be sold in stores, thereby gaining a competitive advantage. Competitor analysis and understanding customer pain points will help e-commerce businesses to engage in niche product development.
• Health food and drinks are expected to witness increasing demands
• Male grooming products such as beard oil will register growth
5. Exploiting emerging technologies
These technological buzzwords are more than fancy-sounding terms. They are helping e-commerce businesses to embrace future and hurtle towards growth. In particular, augmented reality and voice shopping will dominate boardroom discussions. Augmented reality will likely be used in marketing campaigns, while voice shopping will drive sales via mobile phones.
• AR will be bigger than VR
• 2 out 5 adults use voice search every day
6. Artificial Intelligence
At the moment, the use of artificial intelligence is limited to the adoption of chatbots, which assist shoppers when they are making purchases online. In 2018, this trend will be adopted widely, with AI chatbots answering questions on various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and e-commerce stores. They may also begin to provide rudimentary customer service.
• Chatbots will help save $8 billion per annum in various costs, across industries
• Chatbot inquiries saved an average of 4 minutes when compared with traditional call centers.
Source: Juniper Research
7. Finding a sweet spot between digital wallet payments and traditional checkout
If you have noticed, people have begun to expect the option of making payments via digital wallets. Countries across the world have begun to encourage their citizens to make digital payments to ensure transparency, propelling the growth of mobile and digital wallets. E-commerce trends 2018 will see a growing number of stores offering digital wallet payments alongside traditional payments during checkout.
• PayPal continues to be the most popular digital wallet in the US
• Typical mobile payment user is between 30 and 44 years old
8. Bringing an omnichannel experience
Omni-channel selling allows stores to sell both online and offline and syncing all the transactions in real time using certain software tools so that both the seller and the buyer experience smooth transactions. As more brick and mortar stores begin to sell online without abandoning their physical stores, omnichannel selling will be one of the hottest mobile e-commerce trends in 2018.
• 50% of shoppers not only want to buy online but also desire to pick up the same product at your store.
• 71% of in-store shoppers use their smartphones to research products
9. Personalized marketing and sales communication
Personalized marketing will solely depend on the kind of data you have about your customers. As customers become more jaded with all the options they have today, they will begin to seek a more personalized and intimate experience while shopping. In order to get them to purchase your product, you will probably have to customize each marketing and sales communication using data mining techniques.
• 81% of customers want businesses to know when they should be approached, and when not.
• 74% of customers feel annoyed when web content is not personalized.
10. Quick deliveries and discount saturation
With ERP and CRM being integrated using connecting applications, shipping has become easier, and delivery times have reduced. Recent trends in e-commerce show that online retailers now have to compete with each other with respect to quickness in deliveries as well. Moreover, in 2018, customers are likely to grow saturated with discounts and expect personalized attention to make purchases.
• 78% of customers stated that they will only engage if they have been previously communicated with personalized messages
• 83% of marketers revealed that personalizing communication is their biggest challenge.
E-commerce trends 2018 reveal that stores have a lot to prepare for when it comes to achieving their goals. Firstly, they will need to focus on data mining techniques to optimize conversation and consider investing in ERP and CRM. For e-commerce growth to happen, they will also need to focus on image-centric social networking sites, and use augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and other emerging technologies to their advantage. To tackle growing disillusionment with discounts and quick deliveries, online stores will need to focus on personalized communication to their customers.