Over half of Americans now say they prefer to shop online, and eCommerce is increasing 23% year-over-year.
For most businesses, having an online presence is no longer optional. It’s necessary for survival in an increasingly internet-oriented market.
If you really want to rule the eCommerce marketplace, you also have to stay on top of the ever-changing online shopping trends.
Here are the top eight trends we’ll likely see in 2018.
1. Omni-Platform and Omni-Device
In 2018, the many different online platforms people use and the many different devices they use to access them will become increasingly integrated. It won’t be enough to just have a presence on multiple channels. You’ll have to integrate those channels with each other as well.
This is exemplified in the cookie-enabled ads that have recently become popular. If a user performs a Google search for new bicycles, for instance, and looks at a few purchase options, they might see ads for new bikes popping up on their Facebook feed the next day.
2. Online Research
Continuing a trend from previous years, more users will research an item online before making either an online or in-store purchase. According to Salesforce, 85% of shoppers conduct online research before making an online purchase. This goes to show just how important online content is.
It also tells us that the prices displayed online need to be competitive because these online shoppers will certainly compare prices as part of their research.
3. Increased Mobile Use
Mobile devices will become an even bigger player in online shopping in 2018. Estimates say that 50% of eCommerce revenue will come from mobile this coming year.
According to Goldman Sachs forecasts, mobile eCommerce revenue in 2018 will equal the total eCommerce revenue for 2013, which is $626 billion. Mobile shopping will increase eCommerce revenue overall because people will shop online no matter where they are — not just when they’re home at their computers.
Online shopping provides ample opportunities to create unique customer experiences, even ones that are personalized to each individual customer. You see this on sites likes Amazon that suggest products based on your past purchases and on streaming services like Netflix that recommend shows you might like based on what you watched in the past.
Good Earth Tea created a unique way to personalize its customers’ online shopping experience. Customers can take a short quiz that asks them about their flavor preferences and other questions, like their favorite vacation spot. It then recommends a tea tailored to their taste and personality. Personalization like this will likely become more common in 2018.
5. More Fulfillment Options
Another trend that grew in 2017, and that will continue into 2018, is an increase in available fulfillment options. More and more sites are offering speedy shipping options — sometimes even allowing shoppers to get their order the next day or even the day of their purchase.
Creative online order and delivery options are also popping up, such as recurring orders of frequently bought items and the ability to pick up online purchases in-store. More companies are also now offering delivery services that compete with the big players like USPS, UPS and FedEx.
6. Big Data and Analytics
Big data and analytics is transforming all sorts of industries, including eCommerce. Nearly every action that users take online can be translated into some sort of data, much of which can be used, after analyzing, to optimize eCommerce sites.
Big data analytics can help you predict demand, personalize customer experiences and optimize your pricing to increase sales. This is crucial because just a 1% increase in price leads to an average 8.7% increase in profits, but 30% of pricing decisions fall short of the best possible price.
7. Messenger Apps and Chatbots
Chatbots that operate through messenger apps like Facebook Messenger will likely play a larger role in eCommerce in 2018. Businesses can use these technologies to send customers personalized marketing content, suggest purchases and send special deals and coupons.
They can also help with simple customer service requests, freeing up staff to work on more complicated customer service issues and other projects. As the technology improves, chatbots and messenger app marketing will become both more useful and more popular.
8. Voice Purchases
Recent smartphones all have voice assistants you can use to perform actions on your phone or search the internet just by speaking. Home smart speakers, like Amazon Echo and Google Home, have been gaining popularity as well.
These voice assistants can also help users research shopping options and even buy items online. In fact, 40% of millennials have already used a voice assistant prior to making a purchase.
eCommerce is becoming an increasingly vital sector of the marketplace for businesses to get involved in. Without an online presence, you could be missing out on a huge portion of your potential sales. Keeping up with the changing eCommerce trends can help you capture this growing online audience and increase your sales and profits.