Trends - E-Commerce
Current and forward-thinking e-commerce trends and best practices, particularly relating to mobile, content and product pages, are the following:
1. Mobile overtaking desktop in e-commerce
2. AI and machine learning to improve customer experience
4. Video content by brands
5. Rebirth of brick-and-mortar stores — with a digital twist
6. AR more present in the decision-making process
See below for deeper dive of our findings.
Please note that some of the sources listed include numbers dated older than 2018 — these figures were included to point out the growth of mobile usage, as was requested.
Please note that in the sources there are several other trends listed — including social media driving e-commerce, more seamless shipping and logistics, simplicity in checkout, etc. In compiling these trends, we focused on those trends that looked to the future (i.e. centered around emerging technologies or new applications of existing ones), and listed those that were the most consistently repeated across sources.
1. MOBILE WILL DRIVE UP MORE OF E-COMMERCE — OVERTAKING DESKTOP
Mobile is taking over as the preferred method to buy online. Invesp report predicts that m-commerce in the US alone will reach US$132 billion in 2018 — US$20 billion more than the year before.
Moreover, purchases made on mobile devices are set to surpass purchases made on desktops. With the advance of m-payment systems such as those started by Apple, Google and Samsung, mobile is expected to drive 70% of e-commerce traffic and 50% of digital commerce revenue in the US.
In terms of hard spending, m-commerce is growing at a rate of 59% annually (figures from 2016) — outgrowing both overall e-commerce (17%) and overall retail (5%).
2. AI + MACHINE LEARNING IMPLEMENTED
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over the world — and this includes retail and e-commerce. AI can affect almost every step of the e-commerce process — from merchandising, forecasting, capacity planning to delivery and production.
Customer service is an area where AI has already been implemented, in the form of chatbots and automated responses. Other uses of AI that show great promise are data analytics, including Big Data, advanced analytics and cognitive computing — which has been mentioned by the financial sector as a top priority for 2018.
AI and machine learning can also create a more enjoyable customer experience, by using data to target marketing, offer personalized recommendations and remember client's preferences.
Blockchain technology has incredible potential — including changing the way we pay for things. As explained by Pixelunion, "In its ideal form, digital currency eliminates the need for a middleman (online banks, PayPal, etc.) and allows consumers to buy directly from the seller using some form of a digital wallet."
Should it take off (which, at this stage, nobody really knows yet if it will), cryptocurrencies may play a very important role in e-commerce in years to come.
4. VIDEO CONTENT FROM BRANDS
A vast majority of shoppers (90%) say that video helps them make a shopping decision, and almost half (43%) say they want more content video from brands. No wonder, then, that video is predicted to account for 80% of internet traffic by 2019.
With these stats, video is a surefire way to bring more customers to an e-commerce site — and potentially lead to more conversions.
5. REBIRTH OF BRICK-AND-MORTAR — BUT ROOTED IN DIGITAL
Physical stores are not done — they are reinventing themselves with the aid of digital and e-commerce.
The idea of ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) is alive and well — 82% of consumers research local business on their mobile phones, and 18% of said searches result in a purchase within 24 hours. As many as 39% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase offline.
For physical retailers, knowing that their customers research them online offers them a wealth of information on them — such as shopping history, geolocation tracking, social integration, and mobile payment data.
6. AR WILL BE MORE PRESENT — LEADING TO FEWER RETURNS
Brands will start rolling out Augmented Reality features, allowing customers to visualized items in their homes before purchasing them — which could potentially lead to fewer returns (which are a US$260 billion problem with e-commerce)
Aside for home goods, such as furniture and kitchenware, AR is particularly apt for the beauty sector — retailers such as Sephora and MAC cosmetics have been already experimenting with it (though mostly in brick-and-mortar stores), allowing customers to see how specific products would look on them with AR enhanced mirrors. This technology shows potential for e-commerce — and could be deployed on app stores, using the camera on mobile devices.
7. SUBSCRIPTION SERVICES
At 3,000% growth rate in the last few years, subscription services are one of the fastest growing segments of the e-commerce industry. These provide consumers with curated products delivered their homes at specific intervals, depending on the customer's preferences.
The most successful sectors in this area are beauty and food, with companies like Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron having proved the business model profitable.
The rise of the subscription service points towards the fact that customers are looking for a more personalized shopping experience.
To wrap up, current and forward-thinking e-commerce trends and best practices, particularly relating to mobile, content and product pages, are mobile overtaking desktop in e-commerce, AI and machine learning to improve customer experience, blockchain and cryptocurrency changing the payment structure, video content by brands, rebirth of brick-and-mortar stores — with a digital twist, AR more present in the decision-making process and subscription services.