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It’s hard to believe that 2017 is over and 2018 is finally here... 2017 was an eventful year, to say the least. Predictions for the ecommerce industry are coming in thick and fast, with experts forecasting more than $460 billion will be spent before the end of the year. Online commerce is showing no signs of slowing down, statistics show that 67% of millennials and 56% of Gen Xers would rather shop online than visit a department store.
This figure is rising year by year, showing is an increasing shift in the way we buy, sell and market our products. It also means we need to be more creative when marketing to prospective customers. Taking new technologies into consideration, new trends are inevitable. Thanks to a multitude of anticipated trends set to disrupt eCommerce, you need to stay on top of your game or you’ll be left behind.
To help you stay one step ahead, here are our top eCommerce trends that we think you should be aware of in 2018.
eCommerce Trend #1. Blockchain-enabled AI chatbots
AI chatbots as virtual assistants are predicted to boom in 2018, helping to drive sales and automate customer service. In recent years, blockchain has made huge strides across almost every single industry. Let’s take banking, for example, the likes of Bitcoin and thousands of cryptocurrencies are using blockchain technology to turn the banking industry upside down.
An increasing amount of ecommerce solutions are choosing a decentralised blockchain platform over traditional technology, largely due to advanced security. In particular, blockchain is being adopted to advance AI-powered chatbots, helping online retailers with a variety of tasks such as assisting customer queries.
eCommerce Trend #2. Content
Companies in 2018 are predicted to adopt content marketing as a major part of their marketing strategy, with a particular focus on videos and podcasts. Thanks to ever increasing online searches by potential buyers and customers, more and more online merchants are jumping on the content bandwagon. Rather than spending all your marketing budget on PPC ads to drive traffic, it’s a good idea to create evergreen content that will continue to drive qualified traffic to your site, long after PPC ads have been turned off.
Once you know your audience, you can start creating content aimed at their interests (based on search engine volume and keywords). By creating more content, you broaden your online reach and make a way for prospective buyers to see your products. Content will always be king and will continue to be the most effective way to update your audience about new products, upgrades, news and other business activities.
And best of all, content comes in all shapes and sizes. What works for one company, might not be what’s best for you and vice versa. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d recommend starting with a series of email marketing campaigns (see trend #6). We can help you with that ;)
eCommerce Trend #3. Voice search purchases
Thanks to the advancement in smartphones and technology like Amazon Echo, Siri, Google Home and endless voice search plugins, an increase in voice search is inevitable. Using voice assistance to find and purchase products online is set to change the game in 2018. In 2017, over 25 million voice controlled devices were purchased by customers, designed to help with day-to-day tasks like scheduling appointments, streaming music and online shopping.
40% of millennials have used voice assistance to make a purchase, and this statistic is predicted to increase in 2018 based on advancements in voice search AI technology. A great way to capitalise on the trend is to give detailed information about your company on business listing sites like Yelp, Google My Business, Yahoo Local, Bing Places, Facebook for Business, and Foursquare for Business. This will improve your website ranking, helping customers find you when they perform voice searches.
eCommerce Trend #4. Omni-device & platforms
We will see more multi-platform integrations in 2018. Last year, Shopify introduced lots of integrations with top players in the eCommerce sector. We can expect to see even more integrations this year, including faster, smarter multi-channel partnerships. And devices used to access these platforms will be upgraded for an improved shopping experience, thanks to better UX/UI.
To take advantage of this trend, online merchants should pay particular attention to ensuring your website, apps and plugins are working cohesively. Web design is a great way to make sure all your integrations are consistent with your brand. Something to pay specific attention to is making sure you provide customers with a smooth sales process, including accessible call-to-action buttons, secure payment gateways and intuitive UX. Another thing we can give you a hand with!
eCommerce Trend #5. Augmented Reality
For anyone not familiar with Augmented Reality (AR), in simple terms AR technology allows people to see how a computer-generated object would look in a particular environment. A great example is IKEA Places ARKit app, a tool that allows you to virtually project a piece of furniture into a space in your living room, helping you decide if it’s a good fit for the room. SnapShop showroom app also allows customers to visualise furniture in their home, before they make the decision to buy.
AR can be used across many elements of an ecommerce business, like pop up 3D emails, text messages, videos, and photos on mobile, tablets and other devices. Many stores are incorporating AR technology to increase interactive engagement with their audience, and to sell more products with easy-to-understand visually alluring content.
eCommerce Trend #6. Email
Email marketing is well known to consistently deliver results, especially when compared to most other forms of marketing strategies. While many trends come and go, email still holds its ground as one of the most influential trends to embrace as a business owner. According to Radicati, there are almost 5 billion email accounts worldwide, making it easy to speak directly to your potential customer.
If there is any trend that you adopt this year, email is essential...it really is worth its weight in gold! Any ecommerce business serious about scaling in 2018 needs to make sure they automate a comprehensive email strategy, paying particular attention to transactions and shopping cart triggers. It’s much easier to convert a customer who already knows your brand, compared to trying to convert browsers who have never even heard of you. Email marketing is one of our specialties, so why not book a free consultation to see how we can help.
eCommerce Trend #7. Mobile Optimisation
More than 64.5% of the world owns a mobile phone, a number that will no doubt increase in 2018. As it stands, more than half of all internet traffic originates from mobile devices, and this is exactly why you need to put a structure in place this year to be mobile-friendly and mobile-optimised. Mobile shopping is always going to be a focal point in eCommerce and there’s no excuse when it comes to making sure your website is mobile-optimised. Speak to Shopify Plus experts to find out how you can optimise your website.
In conclusion, 2018 looks to be a very eventful year for the eCommerce industry with many businesses concentrating on customer satisfaction, widening their audience reach and increasing conversion rates. If you need help growing your eCommerce business and staying ahead of the competition, don’t hesitate to book a free consultation with our expert team.
Here’s to a prosperous and successful 2018!