The Top eCommerce Trends To Keep An Eye On in 2019

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New eCommerce trends emerge at a staggering pace. It’s hard to keep up-to-date with them all, so we’ve researched and collected the hottest eCommerce trends of 2019 in this post.

eCommerce sales will account for 10% of money spent by shoppers this year. If you run or manage an eCommerce store, it’ll help you a great deal knowing the latest trends in your industry. After all, knowing is half the battle won!

While you don’t have to follow all the trends listed here, the knowledge can help you identify areas in your online store where you can improve.

Let’s go!

Get Chatty

They’re almost everywhere now. The global takeover of chatbots is imminent. Over the last year, Chatbots recorded a massive 24.3% growth (CAGR). In a end-user survey, 45% of users preferred chatbots as their first choice for raising customer service requests.

In another study by Drift, 38% of consumers preferred engaging with a bot over a human.

Say hello to our new chat overlords!

2020 is going to be a big year for chatbots. Salesforce’s global “State of Service” survey (August 2019) found that 53% of service organizations are planning to use chatbots within the next 18 months.

With the rise of messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, chatbots are slowly invading users’ mobiles too. And for a good reason.

Chatbots help you reach your customers in a fun and meaningful way. And it happens with the least friction possible. There’s nothing to download or install, no registration or login page. It’s right there for the users to jump in right away.

Think Inside The Box

Everyone uses email—to keep in touch with friends, family, and their favorite brands. There’s a new use for emails now: email checkouts. It’s a way for consumers to complete their purchase directly from an email.

Interactive emails were popularized by a startup named RebelMail (acquired by Salesforce recently). It has grown in usage tremendously since then.

Interactive emails with checkout feature directly in the inbox
Checkout without leaving your inbox.

Interactive emails allow subscribers to take quizzes, review products they’ve purchased, and even checkout abandoned carts, all within the body of the email itself.

For instance, Old Navy used it to let customers view photos of a product, choose its color & size, add it to their cart, and then finish the purchase.

Here’s a cool interactive email from Harry’s that suggests a product based on your choices (this ties into the personalization trend too).

Despite the rise of other communications channels, emails are still the most used medium. It makes sense then that brands will maximize its potential by letting customers buy directly from their inboxes. Its scope is so huge, that it just may give rise to a new eCommerce category—emailCommerce.

It’s Time To Get Personal

Delight your customers with how unique they are to get great marketing results. A study by Experian Marketing Services found that personalized emails achieve 6X higher transaction rates than those that aren’t.

To win at personalization, you need to cover your customer’s journey from start to finish. A majority of shoppers do research before committing to a purchase, so help them with that. Build personalized content and search features to attract your target audience.

Reward your customers for sharing their personal information. You can then use this data to personalize their shopping experience. And later, you can customize your customer loyalty schemes too.

Guide your customers throughout their online shopping journey.

For instance, Victoria’s Secret guides you with a sports bra selector interface. The North Face helps you find the perfect jacket. Bodybuilding.com helps you find the right supplement in just three easy steps. IKEA’s planner tool helps you plan your dream home.

Know your customers’ secrets to serve them better!

Personalizing the consumers’ shopping experience helps simplify purchasing decisions by helping them find exactly what they’re looking for.

Brands that learn how to do this will have better chances of winning against their competition.

Keep Your Users Hooked

Instagram’s ad revenue more than doubled in 2018 and generated 9 billion dollars. This growth is mostly due to its new eCommerce push, and is expected to continue through 2019.

Currently, Instagram is the No.2 social media platform with 768 million monthly active users (MAU), right behind its parent company Facebook. By 2023, it’s expected to reach more than 1 billion MAU.

Instagram's new Checkout on Instagram eCommerce featureYet another Insta-hit in the making. (Source: Instagram)

Instagram’s eCommerce-friendly features are growing by leaps and bounds. Their product tagging feature and shoppable Instagram Stories stickers have been a huge success with brands and marketers alike.

Early this year, they announced the Checkout on Instagram feature (still in beta), which allows shoppers to buy products they see on Instagram without leaving the app. Nike, Adidas, H&M, Prada, and Burberry are some of the top brands testing it out right now.

 

Create A Seamless Shopping Experience

Mobile is still on the rise. By 2021, 53.9 percent of all eCommerce sales are expected to happen on smartphones. A majority of consumers browse products or services on their mobiles, but finish their purchase on a desktop.

An top view of a desk with a person holding tablet. Also seen are a laptop and a smartphone along with various gifts.
Be there for your customers on all major devices and platforms.

Hence, it’s important to have your eCommerce store present on all devices. This is called an omni-device eCommerce strategy. It helps customers switch shopping easily between their various devices.

Even inside a physical store, 80% of shoppers used a smartphone to look up product reviews or compare prices. They usually visit social media pages, YouTube, and review sites to feel confident about their intended purchase.

Thus, it becomes crucial for brands to have a presence on all platforms. Even if they’re majorly a retail brand. This is called a omni-channel strategy.

An omni-platform and omni-device strategy puts your customers at the center of your marketing efforts, rather than your brand. It aids them in their shopping journey, no matter which device or platform they’re on.

If you already have an eCommerce store, it’s worth checking out the benefits of Progress Web Apps (PWA). PWAs are websites that work pretty much like apps, but they’re platform independent. So, they work on almost all devices. They’re heralded to be the future of mobile apps.

Super Progressive Web Apps is a highly-rated WordPress plugin as is PWA for WP & AMP (which has been updated more recently) that you can use right now to convert your WordPress site into a PWA.

The Future Is Unreal

Virtual Reality gives customers an experience that’s equivalent to traditional shopping. Well, almost. Plus, there’s no hassle of traveling and being physically present at the store. If you’re wondering how, here’s a cool in-store VR demo by inVRsion.

According to a survey conducted by Frulix—a virtual reality startup that helps create VR videos right inside your browser, 72% respondents said they’d be interested in buying things through a VR experience. 58% thought that VR could be a game changer for retailers.

As per IDC, spending on virtual and augmented reality is predicted to surpass $20 billion in 2019IKEA, Converse and Lego are some of the top brands who have invested heavily in VR and AR.

Converse’s AR app lets you try their styles virtually.

As the VR space picks up pace, eCommerce brands will need to create better experiences for their consumers. It’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on (pun intended).

Raise Your Voice

Voice-commerce accounted for $2 billion in sales last year, according to OC&C Strategy Consultants. This number is estimated to grow to $40 billion by 2022.

Voice assistants like Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa are growing popular day-by-day. They can be used hands free while doing other things, and also help you get answers and results faster.

And buy me a bag of chips while you’re at it!

Naturally, using them for purchasing things is just a matter of time. More than 62% of households that own smart speakers have used voice assistants to buy groceries. And 35% of them have used the same to buy retail items.

As the tech matures, eCommerce businesses are eager to leverage this new platform to create dynamic shopping experiences for their users.

EMarketer predicts that smart speakers market in the US will grow to 76.5 million by 2020. This combined with consumers’ preference for smart assistants would mean that voice-commerce will play a significant role in the growth of eCommerce industry.

Move Fast And Don’t Break Things

On the internet, slow speed kills. First, it kills businesses by damaging their conversion rates. And then, it kills them by damaging the site’s reputation.

According to a user study by Google, 53% of smartphone users abandon a site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. And 79% said that they won’t return to a site with poor performance.

That was a major reason behind Google’s Speed Update to their search algorithm last year. With all things being constant, the faster your site loads, the higher it’ll rank in Google’s search results.

Hence, if you’re running an eCommerce store, you need to go with a reliable hosting partner that delivers (hint: WPMU DEV Hosting is blazing fast).

Online shoppers are looking for speed and performance. Just make it happen!

Let’s Go (Social) Shopping

More people today shop online, buy items on social network platforms, become brand ambassadors and contribute to other users’ purchases through User-Generated Content (UGC) and buying recommendations.

Instagram, for example, let’s you set up a mobile shopfront, tag products in photos, videos, and stories, and turn posts into opportunities for millions of users to buy from your store. You can display your Instagram shop and products on other social platforms like Facebook and on your WordPress eCommerce store.

With a little creative thinking, you can launch UGC initiatives like competitions asking customers to share photos and stories of themselves consuming, wearing, or engaging with your products and services. Users can share products they want with their social network and get feedback and suggestions on purchases from their friends.

Wallis website with user generated content request notice highlighted
User-Generated Content marketing campaigns are a growing social eCommerce trend.

Did You Just Propose To Me?

How do you tell customers that both they and your business are special and deserve to be together? Successful eCommerce businesses are finding ways to do this by combining their Unique Selling Proposition (USP) with personalized user experiences.

Focusing on micro-markets, building a community, and holding in-depth conversations with potential and existing customers are just some of the ways businesses are accessing better user data to figure out what customers are looking for, deliver them a unique and special experience, and create the perfect match.

In a recent BazaarVoice survey, 70% of retailers listed personalization as a top priority [PDF]. With trends like dropshipping, vendors can craft a unique selling proposition, set up online stores focused on micro selling, and use personalization tools to improve customer engagement on their website.

Laptop screen with illustration of a group of people holding signs.
Customers want to buy special things from special places that make them feel, well… special!

Sell Once, Get Paid Forever

Frictionless shopping is all about making the buying process faster, simpler, less stressful, and more enjoyable to consumers. Subscription-based eCommerce is a perfect example of this.

According to global management firm McKinsey, subscription eCommerce has grown by more than 100 percent each year for the past five years. Online subscriptions alone generated more than $2.6 billion in sales in 2016 (up from $57.0 million in 2011).

Whether customers buy online to avoid running to the shops all the time or to save themselves the embarrassment of asking for personal products over the counter, more companies are offering auto-shipped products, allowing users to subscribe and get anything and everything home delivered.

Amazon subscribe and save store page.
With subscription services, you never have to run out again and inconvenience yourself.

If It Looks Like A Duck And Thinks Like A Duck…

New eCommerce experiences are combining artificial intelligence (AI) with augmented reality (AR), particularly in areas like mobile commerce.

AI and AR are separate but complementary technologies. AI-based predictive technologies can learn and identify users’ buying patterns and behaviors to tailor-make customized shopping experiences and generate timely offers, and 3D-based modeling with AR tools can be used to let users visualize, ‘test out’ and ‘try’ things like homeware products and clothing apparel or accessories before they buy.

By 2022, BusinessWire predicts that global retailer spending on AI will reach $7.3 billion per annum by 2022 (up from around $2B in 2018), and PR Newswire estimates that over 120,000 online stores will use AR to offer their customers a richer buying experience and that by 2020, 3% of all eCommerce revenue with be generated by AR experiences.

image of camera showing augmented reality picture of a couch.
Augmented reality lets you couch things in different material perceptions and try before you buy. Source: augment.com

One eCommerce Channel To Rule Them All

How can you target your ideal customers online when there are so many places they can be found? Businesses today need to have an online presence everywhere and be able to deliver an exceptional level of personal service that will make customers feel special and want to return and buy again and again.

The key is to be very targeted in your marketing efforts and concentrate on building your business using a multichannel (omnichannel) approach that provides customers with a seamless, consistent, and personalized shopping experience no matter where they are located or how they interact with you.

So… if you want to get somewhere with them, be everywhere and be there for them!

Omnichannel marketing illustration.
Wherever they are, be there and be ready to serve them!

Something Old And Something New

If you believe that the growth of eCommerce will lead to the demise of brick and mortar stores, think again. Retailers are embracing eCommerce and finding new ways to augment the online experience with physical stores.

Many brands are profiting from ‘brick and click’ stores that combine retail and eCommerce, require less physical footprint areas and employees to operate, and offer a more personalized and interactive in-store visit. Amazon’s “4-Star” stores, for example, let customers interact with top-selling devices and products in person.

Digital kiosks allow users to engage directly with the store. Pop-up shops, trade shows, and mobile field reps are embracing flexible technologies like POS-enabled tablets, mobile card readers, on-site/on-demand printing, and flexible space leasing arrangements.

Customers today can order meals in restaurants through interactive menus, and fashion retailers are placing tablets inside change rooms, so shoppers can request more clothing items to try on. Some retailers are even integrating virtual shopping experiences of their physical stores and showrooms using AR technologies.

Tesco virtual store inside a Korean subway station.
Buying groceries from virtual stores underground is a totally ‘off the wall’ experience.

We Know What You’re Searching For

Remember the good ole’ days when you spent hours online researching gaming laptops to find one that fits your budget and used keywords like “Alienware 13 Gaming Laptop PC i7–5500U GeForce 960M” to search for it in your favorite computer store website?

Well, you no longer have to. Typing long keywords to search for products is so 2018! Intelligent search algorithms and filters are getting better at learning what customers are looking for, even if they misspell the words or just search for things like “gaming laptop under 2000”.

Smart technologies like dynamic filters allow customers to quickly sort and find what they want on sites with huge product catalogs and many variations like prices, size, color, budget, brands, makes, models, and more.

We’re not quite at the “Think It – Found It” stage yet of product search, but we’re definitely getting closer…

Amazon product results page.
Smarter search technologies know what you need… probably better than you do.

eCommerce Security: No Blankie Solutions

With eCommerce, success ultimately depends on customers feeling confident, safe, and secure when buying online. It’s estimated that retailers will lose around $130 billion in digital CNP (Card-not-Present) fraud between 2018 and 2023.

There are no blanket solutions that can address all online security concerns, but eCommerce security methods and standards are evolving.

More businesses are now implementing multilayered fraud management strategies to reduce risk, improve data security, and increase consumer trust and confidence. This includes choosing eCommerce platforms with secure shopping cart software that meets PCI security standards, sensitive data encryption, multiple firewalls, and no credit card data being stored on sites.

Image of man with credit card making an online purchase.
This website is PCI compliant? Then shut up and take my money already!

Has eCommerce Lost Its Head?

eCommerce began as a way to order and buy products online through desktop computers and web browsers. When people began making digital purchases using mobile phones and wearable technologies to ‘tap and pay’ for purchases, companies realized they had to rethink their approach to eCommerce.

The solution? Headless commerce. This is where the frontend and backend use different services and platforms to handle eCommerce processes. Customers interact with the frontend like a browsing a website, mobile app, or scanning a QR code label on the back of a wine bottle, and a separate platform handles backend areas like managing and tracking inventory, processing transactional data, payments, shipping and fulfillment, invoicing, and other functions using various web services and Application Programming Interface (API) calls.

The benefits of headless commerce for web developers means spending less time putting together an entire eCommerce solution for clients, focusing on creating a better experience for their users instead, and then easily joining the frontend and backend together to get projects done faster.

Simple diagram to illustrate headless commerce.
Headless commerce lets you grow your eCommerce business without getting a head.
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