E-commerce has been growing in popularity over the last several years, and adoption isn’t showing signs of slowing down. A recent report by BigCommerce and Square shows that e-commerce revenue is growing 23% year-over-year. With this growth comes change, especially as new technologies lead to shifts in the way consumers buy.
Along with these changes, competition is increasing as more companies realize the opportunities available. The companies that succeed in e-commerce in 2018 will be those who know how to use new developments to their advantage — to win customers and keep them. Here are the top e-commerce trends for 2018 that we see coming to the forefront.
1. Omniplatform Shopping
People today are on the go, and they’re taking their devices with them. An online buying journey may begin on a smartphone while the shopper rides the subway, continue on a desktop at work, and finish up on a tablet as the person relaxes on the couch after work. E-commerce experiences must be truly integrated to avoid abandoned purchases.
Companies who excel will provide a seamless experience not only visually, but also in their messaging, sales processes, payment processing, and advertising. A shopper should feel that the experience is consistent — no matter where, when, or how they encounter the brand.
Chatbots aren’t anything new, but their sophistication has skyrocketed. It’s difficult to tell the difference between an advanced chatbot and a real person in an online chat interaction. Implemented strategically, chatbots give companies the ability to accelerate customer service by handling routine inquiries and freeing staff to provide exceptional service for more complex customer needs.
Today, chatbots can answer customer questions, send product recommendations, and request feedback, all without human intervention. They’re available 24/7, so they can provide immediate service.
3. Voice Purchases
With the rise of smartphone and smart home speakers, the use of voice assistants has become commonplace. People are asking Alexa and Siri to do everything from playing their favorite song to ordering pizza. As more people get comfortable using voice assistants and start integrating them into their daily lives, companies who neglect voice optimization will be left behind.
To prepare for the popularity of voice assistants, companies have several opportunities. They can optimize their on-site search for natural-language voice queries, making it simple for users to find what they’re looking for via voice. They can optimize their site’s content by adding natural language. And they can use schema mark-up to provide detailed product information so search engines can identify context and deliver a seamless voice commerce experience.
4. Augmented Reality
While AR is still a bit away from being commonly used, its potential shouldn’t be ignored. Global Market Insights reports that the market for AR products is projected to grow 80% to $165 billion by 2024.
Companies should be thinking now about how they can bring their product into a person’s home or office via virtual reality for shoppers to try and experiment with. Consumers want to visualize how a product will fit into their lifestyles.
5. More Options for Fulfillment
In today’s world of instant gratification, no one wants to wait for anything. Companies that can deliver orders quickly will win more business. By optimizing order processing systems to ship products same day, companies will attract more buyers.
But success in order fulfillment goes beyond speedy delivery. Shoppers are looking for personalization and good experiences. Companies should consider customizing their packaging and communications related to the fulfillment process.
We’ve seen seismic changes in attitudes toward diversity over the last year. People are starting to insist that diversity matters. Consumers are communicating that they want companies to provide advertising and products that represent and serve people like them. Diversity is becoming a mainstream value, and companies who understand this and optimize their customer experiences accordingly will prosper.
Things move fast in the world of e-commerce, and companies must keep up. Consumers have plenty of options to choose from, so if your company isn’t delivering what they expect, they’ll move on. If you anticipate where the trends are headed, and act on them, you’ll have a competitive advantage. 2018 could be your company’s best year yet.
Want to talk about optimizing your e-commerce experience? Get in touch.