2018 was an eventful year for eCommerce. Augmented reality, increased transparency, and a move towards an omni-channel approach are just a few of the trends that impacted the industry.
As we get ready to head in 2019, it’s important to plan ahead and consider which trends will transform eCommerce in the next year. And not only do you need to identify these trends, you’ll want to be proactive in your preparation so you can have a leg up on the competition.
Below, we'll dive into five eCommerce trends for 2019 and what you can do to prepare:
- Social Commerce
- Voice Search
- Amazon and Alibaba
1. Social Commerce
Selling on social media isn’t exactly new, but one trend we’re predicting for 2019 is the RISE of social commerce. It’s becoming far more commonplace than ever before. In fact, social media messaging sales now outperform email, the longtime ROI winner of digital channels.
But that’s not all:
- 60% of users find new products on Instagram.
- 30% of online shoppers say they would likely purchase from a social media network like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat.
- 18% of shoppers have purchased products directly via social media. This is a number we’re expecting to grow exponentially in 2019.
Looking to capitalize on the opportunity of social commerce for your own online brand? We’ve got some ideas:
- If you haven’t already, set up a Facebook store and implement the shoppable Instagram.
- Browse the list of social commerce apps available on the Shopify App Store.
- Activate Facebook Messenger (more on chatbots in a bit) so you can answer social shoppers’ questions within the same platform.
2. Voice search
Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Home, and other voice-activated tech is finding their way into more homes than ever. What was first dubbed as creepy or unnecessary has now become the norm. In the U.S. alone, experts predict voice assistant usage to increase to around 67 million devices by 2019. Voice search makes up one-fifth of all mobile searches — a figure expected to hit 50% by 2020.
And consumers are increasingly “talking” with these devices to learn more about products to buy online. This idea of conversational commerce isn’t exactly new, but the widespread adoption of it is. One report predicts the voice shopping market to grow from $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022.
Let’s look at some ways to prepare for voice search in 2019:
- Create voice-only promotions on Amazon, Google Shopping, and other sites that use voice search.
- Optimize not only for Google SEO, but also Amazon SEO.
- Look for longtail keywords — these are more commonly used in voice search than a traditional Google search. (seoClarity recommends using the words “how,” “what,” and “best.”)
- Consider Google Snippets. These will help in voice search and also organic search. Look for common questions related to your keyword and create content to directly answer those questions.
3. Amazon and Alibaba
With Amazon launching its second (and third) HQ, and Alibaba continually on the rise in the Asian markets, these eCommerce giants are mainstays on the trend list. Amazon and Alibaba in and of themselves are not trendy — it’s what they do and how consumers engage with their platforms that creates a ripple effect on the rest of the eCommerce industry.
For one thing, Amazon has made consumers (especially in the U.S.) accustomed to not only free shipping, but two-day shipping as well. eCommerce brands are under the gun to deliver the same level of service, or else risk losing out to Bezos. Target was one of the first major brands to step up to the plate — offering free two-day delivery during the holidays.
Alibaba is surging in growth. It’s now the ninth biggest company in the world. In 2018, we saw both Amazon and Alibaba make big moves in the world of physical retail. This is a trend we predict to continue through 2019, as they each look to strategic partnerships to deliver unique, immersive experiences.
Online brands looking to stay competitive can also explore partnerships, pop-up shops and a complete redesign to the digital experience in order to match the offline one.
You know what they say: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Major brands like Calvin Klein are jumping on the Amazon bandwagon, opening their own Amazon “storefronts” and selling products there. It may not be a bad idea to incorporate Amazon or Alibaba into your multi-channel selling strategy.
Live on-site chat was a thing last year, but it was so new that brands didn’t always know how to best leverage it. As data science and artificial intelligence in particular evolved, brands no longer had to employ staff to manually respond to every message. Now, chatbots have eliminated some of the need for manpower — automating much of the exchange.
So how does this relate to eCommerce? Well, almost 60% of millennials and Gen Xers in the U.S. have interacted with chatbots. And according to Facebook, more than 50% of customers are more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat. Not to mention Gartner predicts 85% of consumer engagement with businesses to be done without interacting with another person — instead with chatbots and self-service options.
Don’t forget to consider other creative uses for chatbots, outside of driving sales. Juniper Research predicts that if businesses use it during the recruiting, hiring and on-boarding process, they can save $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022.
Blockchain, cryptocurrency, bitcoin — whether you’ve dabbled into this world or not, it’s making its mark on eCommerce. First let’s look at how widely used this form of digital currency is: According to Statista data, there are currently more than 28 million Blockchain wallet users.
Many eCommerce platforms are finding ways to accommodate this alternate form of currency. CoinPayments, a major cryptocurrency payment provider, has a partnership with Shopify to support more than 300 cryptocurrency payments for various goods. Shopify allows merchants to collect bitcoin payments on their platform.
As globalization continues, being able to appeal to customers all over the world is imperative for online brands that want to stay competitive. It’s important to set up your store to accommodate as many payment methods as possible, including cryptocurrency.
These are just five of the trends we are predicting for 2019, and we know there will be many, many more. What eCommerce trends do you envision in years to come? Email us at [email protected] to contribute to a future blog post on this topic.