Did you know that in the UK alone, online sales have risen from 15.9% in December 2017 to 17.4% as of March 2018? And as of 2018, the UK is second only to Norway for the average number of online sales made per person?
This growing demand is one of the many reasons why it’s so vital for eCommerce businesses to keep track of eCommerce trends and adapt when necessary.
To make that task easier, here are the current top eCommerce trends of 2018 and some predictions for 2019.
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Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
If your knowledge of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning was mostly accumulated in the 90s while watching Terminator 2, then you’re not alone. Fortunately, the AI of today is far less intimidating and radically improving the eCommerce industry.
Machine learning is already integrated into many eCommerce systems, with adaptive search engines that are better able to understand what the customer is searching for, and intelligent product recommendations that improve the chances of the customer making a purchase.
Perhaps the most potent aspect of machine learning is its ability to analyse, understand and predict the behaviour of your customers. This goes beyond making logical predictions based on past purchase history and leaps into the realm of profiling every action the customer takes.
AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are also becoming increasingly popular for eCommerce, able to answer questions, provide product information and direct customers to relevant areas of your website 24 hours a day.
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Augmented reality has had a shaky start. The initial Google Glass concept videos got us pumped at the idea of affordable “smart vision”. But instead of fancy glasses with smarts, we got the ability to have dog ears and a long tongue in our SnapChat selfies.
Fortunately, some companies have stepped beyond the novelty aspect of augmented reality to provide useful, and dare I say it, cool uses of the technology. This includes IKEA who’s new Places app gives you the ability to preview how IKEA products might look in your home.
Amazon has also developed a similar app called AR View which performs the same function as the IKEA app. They also have the Echo Look smart device which is touted as “a hands-free style assistant”. The device allows customers to preview how an outfit might look in real-time using an intelligent camera with built-in depth perception and lighting.
Smaller companies may not be able to feature augmented reality on the same scale as the likes of Amazon and IKEA, but as the technology evolves, developers will be able to offer affordable apps to eCommerce stores that can provide a useful augmented reality function to customers.
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According to Statista, in the third quarter of 2018, 52.4% of worldwide internet takes place via a mobile device and is likely to keep on rising.
This has led to a growing demand for responsive eCommerce sites and mobile checkout systems so that customers can quickly browse and purchase products online without having to switch devices.
As of 2018, there are at least a dozen mobile payment options for customers, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, EE Cash on Tap and Samsung Pay. Each of which provides a convenient method of payment for customers and take us a step further towards a cashless society.
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With the widespread adoption of smart home devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, it’s easy to understand why voice search has become so popular. Owners of these devices can now enquire about a product and make a purchase without lifting a finger.
Purchasing via voice isn’t just convenient, it also opens up new opportunities for online sellers to make a sale. For example, a customer could be in the middle of making dinner and order replacement cooking ingredients without having to pick up their phone or computer.
Voice search also encourages customers to make future purchases via shopping lists. So rather than writing a list or relying on memory, customers can just add items to their shopping list and quickly checkout using a voice command when they are ready.
To capitalise on this, eCommerce operators should be optimising their online stores for voice search, such as writing smart home device friendly product descriptions and offering voice search only deals to their customers.
eCommerce Predictions for 2019
Here are our predictions for the up and coming trends of 2019 in the world of eCommerce.
Product Personalisation via Augmented Reality
Most people can probably relate to the frustration of purchasing clothing or accessories online and then finding out that the item doesn’t fit. This then leads to the hassle of having to repackage the item and send it back before ordering a replacement.
Fortunately, some companies are already working on augmented reality apps that can be used to record the measurements of your body for more accurate sizing. Some similar apps already exist, such as the offering from Lenskart which allows customers to try on glasses in real time to find the ideal match for their face.
Companies such as Amazon have set the bar when it comes to speedy deliveries, with some items able to be delivered within an hour. And if we are to believe the hype, this could become even more commonplace in the future via automated deliveries to your front door using drones.
With most customers wanting items to be delivered within 24 hours, this puts a lot of pressure on smaller eCommerce companies to improve their delivery times. This, in turn, creates an opportunity for distribution providers to step up to the mark, with some companies such as Uber Eats already rising to the challenge.
The Growth of Video Content
Video content is on the rise, with companies such as Facebook investing heavily into video platforms such as Facebook Watch. This, along with the growth of social media influencer marketing, creates an opportunity for eCommerce stores to promote their products to those that consume video content on a regular basis.
What are your thoughts and predictions?
If you think we’ve missed something or if you have some thoughts about some of the trends we’ve discussed then we’d love to hear from you.