How will eCommerce change in 2018

People love to shop online and the numbers are, if needed, confirming this. In 2017, the global e-commerce market reached $2.3 trillion, while by 2021 is expected to hit a whopping $4.5 trillion. Also, in the United States, this market represents 10 percent of all retail sales. Let that sink in for a moment.

Ok, enough reflecting.

It’s obvious that e-commerce is growing at a ridiculously high pace, so in order to keep up with your competitors – and continue providing great experiences for your customers – you need to be up to date with the latest trends. Because hey, nobody likes an online shop stuck in the past.

Like every year, experts and marketing enthusiasts start talking about the trends set to dominate the market.

Well, this is exactly what we’re doing here, hoping to offer you an overall view of what you can expect from 2018 in terms of e-commerce, as well as m-commerce. Not familiar with the latter? Well, you should, because people are buying like crazy, using their smartphones. But we’ll get to that a bit later. Let’s begin…

Mobile optimization

I’ve said this a couple of time and I’m going to keep saying it for a few months until everybody gets it. In 2018, optimizing your online store for e-commerce doesn’t mean just having a responsive theme. This is just the first step from a very important mission.

Specifically, you also need to consider mobile-optimized search, videos of your products, or even digital wallets, like Apple Pay, PayPal One-Touch, or Visa Checkout. Actually, this enables one-click purchasing, which makes buying on the go way easier. And this is the key in 2018! Well, one of them.

Locate, personalize and offer the best experience

Ok, I know, this point sounds a bit complicated, since it integrated way too much. Actually, localization is a part of personalization, which aims to deliver the best customer experience.

Until now, offering the best customer experience was the main thing that left a good impression, through a great pricing strategy, shipping and logistics, and, of course, customer service. However, personalization and localization will be added to this recipe in 2018.

Brands will use specific customer data points, in order to deliver relevant products and services, but will also ‘inspect’ the IP of the customer, in order to alter the content of the site and provide even more contextual products or services.

A bit creepy? Probably, but don’t tell me that clients will not love seeing exactly what they want to buy in the first minute of visiting an online store.

AI and Machine Learning will play an even bigger role

There’s no doubt that both e-commerce and m-commerce will continue being disrupted by a continuous integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning technology this year.

Of course, these aren’t new concepts for this…industry. Machine learning, for example, is already part of numerous e-commerce systems, no matter if we’re talking about product recommendation engines or simply improved search functionality.

But in 2018, relying on these concepts, retailers will be able to offer customers exactly what they want, in less time and with less effort. Just think about the common chatbot, which is seriously advancing, or how Facebook implemented direct payments within its Messenger app, in order to make an idea about what to expect.

Besides these, we’re looking forward to seeing way more accurate product recommendations, as the systems will analyze various signals, like product purchase histories or thematically and semantically related products, resulting in way more precisely-recommended products.

Augmented Reality could enter the mainstream

If the entertainment industry is focused on virtual reality, when it comes to e-commerce, augmented reality could become the next big thing.

Many important retailers are taking advantage of this technology, using it to show potential buyers how their products will look in specific locations. Specifically, if you want to buy a bed, you can use AR to see how it looks in your room. Or if you want a dress from an online retailer, the same technology helps you try it.

In order to better understand how this works, you can check out IKEA’s Place app:

Looking forward to seeing more retailer, from various domains, relying on augmented reality in 2018. After all, it’s not just very useful, but it’s also cool! And if you’re a cool brand, you can attract more customers.

More purchases made through voice search

As mentioned in our previous analysis on mobile SEO in 2018, it’s basically impossible to talk about mobile marketing without mentioning voice search.

Recently, there’s an increasing interest in personal assistants, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, which can be used for making online purchases through voice. Currently, 19% of consumers are using their smart appliances for this, while 33% of them are planning to do so in 2018.

Why should an online store owner be aware of this? Well, let’s just say that, until now, sales made through Amazon Echo units gave retailers numerous upsell opportunities, with rates of more than even 60% among some product lines.

More purchases through storefront apps

Major retailers are aware of this shift from desktop to mobile, so they’re trying to adapt. Even though users were available to make purchases through their mobile websites, it’s been a few years since the important players on the market started making this possible through storefront apps as well. After all, it’s way easier and the user experience it’s what matters the most, right?

Apparently, this was a brilliant decision, since conversion rates among such apps are – get ready for this – with up to 40% higher than those of mobile sites. And this is not everything since the average session duration and order value are also higher on apps than mobile sites.

This year, we’re looking forward to seeing smaller retailers following this path as well, in their attempt to drive more sales and generate customer loyalty. So don’t be surprised if you see pop-ups suggesting you try a store’s new mobile app!

Influencers will play a very important role in the marketing strategy

Social media is love, social media is life. Well, not actually, but an online business is basically dead without this communication channel. Some people were aware of this, so they thought that if they grow an account and have enough likes, they can become influencers.

In 2018, they can be a great marketing tool for an online store, especially if we’re talking about a well-known figure in your industry. And you know what’s the best part? You don’t even need to ask the most popular personality to help you with promotion since it’s all about relevance.

This applies to small-business owners as well. A simple shoutout, a tag or a product reviews, even from a what-they-call micro influencer, with less than 10,000 followers, can do wonders and have a great ROI!

Figuring out the buyer journey will pay off

Last but not least, let’s not forget about one very important aspect: how the buyer journey looks. As an online store owner or a brand, it will be mandatory to know exactly which are the points that cause friction or make it hard for customers to make a purchase.

Keeping it short, you need to discover what gets in the way of them when they’re trying to buy something for you. Sure, it won’t be easy, but the result…oh, you will be grateful for this tip.

Wrap-up

Quite a long list of trans to watch for, isn’t it? Still, we bet that there will be way more happening in e-commerce and m-commerce in 2018 and we’re totally looking forward to seeing what’s coming up.

What do you think will be the dominating trend this year? Let us know your thoughts, using the comments section below!

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