From trading livestock with your neighbor to now buying stuff online, commerce has changed tremendously over the years. So much, that according to the reports, e-commerce sales will reach $27 trillion by 2020.
The industry has come quite a long way since the incidence of first ever online sale on August 11, 1994, when a man sold a band called Sting’s CD to his friend through his online site NetMarket.
Since then, e-commerce has evolved to simplify customers’ online purchase journey through various retailers and platforms.
We have researched and listed 15 e-commerce trends that can help you drive sales in 2019:
1. AI Chatbots
AI based chatbots have been around for a while now. These automated programs can stimulate conversation with humans to answer specific queries and execute tasks. They use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand human queries and then reply accordingly.
Following is an example of a chatbot – eBay ShopBot, that can converse in real-time and helps website visitors find best deals from over one-billion product listing on eBay.
In the coming times, chatbots and virtual customer service agents might become more accurate in understanding the emotional state of people with whom they are conversing.
This clearly means, if you are not using chatbots on your online shopping platforms, you should definitely give one a test run.
2. Infusion of Augmented Reality
Augmented Reality (AR) is the best thing since sliced bread. It will see more adoption in the ecommerce industry. More and more ecommerce platforms are integrating it to improve buyer experience. How? AR tools help consumers try or test homeware products or clothes and accessories before final purchase. For merchants, a satisfied customer translates to repeated sales.
E-commerce sites like Lenskart allows 3D trial of eyeglasses for users with a simple camera access. Simply pick, try, and purchase.
Being able to see what you are trying or how something will look on you, from the comfort of your home, will be a game changer.
3. Attraction towards video content
We are living in a world, where everyone is on a tight schedule, caught in meeting personal and professional obligations. Most of us don’t have the time to crawl through an entire page to know about a product, hence we prefer a 2 or 3 minutes video that engages us and fills us with the required product information.
Online cosmetics store – Glossier, uses different videos to help customers understand their product in detail.
4. D2C revolution
The direct-to-consumer revolution is taking over the market. The D2C model allows a direct link between the manufacturer and the buyer. It is often enabled via mobile or digital channels. Companies want to find ways to reach customers directly and control all aspects of that experience. Removal of middleman translates to higher margins for the manufacturer and lower cost for the end customer.
5. Environmentally friendly packaging
Now the consumers are becoming more aware of the various environmental hazards that can be caused due to packaging. Large sized boxes used for packaging result in wastage of environmental resources. Companies will use more efficient packaging solutions with messages to reuse, to win over customer consciousness.
You can start using materials like cardboard, paperboard etc. that can be reconstituted and made into new products. Materials build with corn starch are biodegradable and hence can be a good option. You can also contact provider of eco-friendly product packaging like Green Packaging Group, Earthpack etc.
6. Growing scope for influencer marketing
Influencer marketing – driving key leaders/people to drive a brand’s message to a larger user subset, is topping the digital marketing strategy of marketers. Per an infographic by Invesp, it delivers 11X higher return on investment (ROI) than other traditional forms of digital marketing. 48% percent of US marketers who are already using influencer marketing can increase their budget for influencer marketing.
7. Voice-assisted search
Per a report, 50% of all searches will be voice-based by 2020. Almost all e-commerce websites and their web apps now have a voice search console, that helps users to say what they are searching for. Not to mention, Google voice assistant that can instantly generate numerous results based on your voice search. Here, the user can also put queries that are longer than the typed search. In fact, with technology grooming every day, voice based assistants can also read out your product description. So, remember to put the best description.
8. Continued growth of analytical platforms
Data is of no use if it can’t dive you through insights. As e-commerce platforms grow, the demand for data analytics will also continue to grow. In 2019, we can see data analytics platform proving highly beneficial in improving product development, customer satisfaction, bounce rates, returns and many more such elements. Platforms like Google Analytics and Facebook Analytics can help you manage your sales funnel and innovate.
9. Accelerated B2B e-commerce growth
As brands figure out ways to squeeze their margins in the B2B environment, digital channels will continue to open up new markets to reduce difficulties in reaching the target customers. Per a study by Forrester, US B2B eCommerce will reach $1.8 trillion and account for 17% of all B2B sales in the US by 2023.
Gartner also predicted CAGR of over 15% from 2015 through 2020 for digital commerce platform market. It also said that by 2018, nearly 40% of the B2B digital commerce sites will start using price optimization strategies and tools.
Future Commerce Indonesia event that took place very recently, discovered various trends and growth prospects for digital commerce. A study by Accenture Research revealed key drivers of APAC digital commerce growth:
10. Inclination toward customer engagement and personalization
Customer engagement will be the top most priority for organizations. Companies will try to find out more opportunities to integrate with the customers at a more personal level. Building experiences for the customers is the first step towards maximizing customer satisfaction and eventually driving more sales.
Consumers prefer personalized experiences while buying a product. Even addressing the customer from their name when they login into your site, is a personal experience for them. Giving them discounts on their birthdays, anniversaries, etc. add a personal touch to sales and make customers feel important.
These days, clothing brands have started giving size chart to help customers find the right fit within seconds.
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful” – Jeff Bezos, Founder, Amazon
11. Rise of ethical ecommerce
Customers values play a crucial role that influences their purchasing and buying behavior. Consumers are becoming more aware of their environment and real and hidden impacts and cost of ecommerce.
Brands are using digital to appeal to customer values. Societal and environmental impact is putting a pressure on customer choices and preferences. They have reservations for buying any product or service that poses a threat to the environment. This may be the reason why we see herbal products finding a way into larger consumer markets.
12. Social media will become more transactional
There will be times when customers will be able to buy directly from the social media platforms. Though, it is not entirely a new thing, as in China nearly 55% of the social app users are buying goods directly from the social apps. With this, social media messaging platforms like Snapchat, Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger can also become transactional, with the number of engagements running into billions.
We all have heard about Instagram Shop, Snapchat’s Shop and Cop section, etc. The former allows users to directly buy products through a link that leads to the main merchant website. While, Snapchat’s Shop and Cop section allows a user to search merchandise and then buy the product directly from the app without being redirected to any other website.
13. QR code detection to help provide instant product information
Technology upgradations have brought significant changes to how the product information can be accessed. QR codes are a much familiar concept. Anyone can scan these codes to know about a particular product But now, their dependency on application is reducing.
Anyone with a latest smartphone can now use their in-built camera to detect QR codes and know about product description, pricing and other information. By making QR code as a native part of Android and iOS, mobile manufacturers have removed the main challenge to adopting QR code and its dependency on apps to read.
14. Rise of micro-marketplaces
Micro marketplaces or micro-markets provide opportunities to buy any product from outside of an e-commerce platform. Many of us have already experienced this while surfing through our Facebook feed, Google or Instagram. These platforms are listing products within their consumer’s search and social experiences. These micro-markets can evolve into a completely new technology in the times to come.
15. Flexible payment options
The lack of flexible payment options can demotivate a buyer from making the final purchase. Not every user is comfortable sharing the credit card or debit card details while making purchases online. Customers might want to look for more flexible payment options that do not include sharing critical card details. Even some retailers might want to shift towards more smart payment options, like extending credits to separating buying from paying.
Online shoppers have high expectations but little to no patience. At the end of the day, what matters most for the end customer is – experience. All the above trends in one or the other, will improve the buying experience of the end customers. They want to know maximum about the product before they make the final purchase. Keep a close watch on these and many other trends in e-commerce and gain a competitive position in the market.