eCommerce as an industry has plenty of room to grow, evolve, and become an even more powerful tool for driving all types of markets forward. Technology and the Internet have advanced to where the possibilities of achieving success as an online business are seemingly endless.
We know many valuable learnings through online shopping data, including that more than 50% of adults today are purchasing items from clothes to sporting goods to household items. As we near the end of 2017, it’s important to reflect on all of the studies that can help us improve. Here are some of the other more important eCommerce findings over the past year:
- Every year, the online sales market increases by more than 20%. It’ll grow from $2.3 trillion in 2017 to $4 trillion in 2020.
- 37% of online spend in the United States and Europe is now made through Amazon.
- Fashion and clothing purchases are by far the most likely products to be returned by US online shoppers.
- eCommerce revenues are expected to eclipse $400 billion by the close of 2017.
- B2B eCommerce is projected to surpass $1 trillion in total sales by 2020
Now that we can apply these trends (and many, many more) from the past year, experts can better identify what’ll be next. Here are 5 eCommerce trends to keep a close watch on in 2018:
1. Streamlining the Online Experience
Making your eCommerce site as streamlined, user-friendly and simple to use is hands down the best way to improve both sales and conversion rates. Jessica Thiele of VL, Inc. says that “At minimum, [a streamlined retail experience] must be error-free and smooth, otherwise your customers will notice. And most of the time, they won’t say anything about it — they’ll just shop somewhere else next time around.” This couldn’t be truer in the coming years. eCommerce businesses in 2018 should be looking to make their websites easier and more interactive, products more simple to find and purchase, and support easier to get to.
2. Optimizing for Voice Search
It’s been projected that up to 50% of all search will be done through voice by the year 2020. For those in the eCommerce industry, every percentage point that goes up will greatly affect the performance of online retail stores. With advancements in speech and voice technology on smartphones, consumers are trending toward speaking into their devices to locate things rather than putting in the manual effort – another nod to the need for streamlining experiences.
To make the most of the rise in voice search, experts have recommended that eCommerce stores optimize their Google My Business listings to ensure that local pages have unique URLs and are indexed properly to include your name, address, phone numbers, and other relevant content.
3. Providing Frictionless Customer Support
Customer support can either be a great experience or a terrible one for consumers; promoting a positive support experience will always leave the customer satisfied, informed, and better connected to your brand.
Self-service support options are becoming widespread in the age of eCommerce and digital consumption, and are a favorite among millennials and online buyers of all ages. Interactive decision trees can transform any lengthy FAQ, tutorial, or troubleshooting article into an easy click-click-click experience, allowing customers to more easily self-solve and stay happy. eCommerce businesses using Zendesk or other CRM tools can also integrate them easily within their current support workflow.
4. Using Augmented Reality
While Augmented Reality (AR) hasn’t quite hit the mainstream yet, it’s well on its way. Brands are already finding ways to use AR to engage with their customers and reach new audiences, as it’s an incredibly easy way to interact. Social media platforms are making moves into introducing AR experiences to allow users to project themselves virtually through an app, which are leading the way for eCommerce to make its steps as an industry.
Prominent eCommerce giants like IKEA have already begun, using AR to project their home furnishings and other products directly into the homes of consumers using their “Place” app. This “try before you buy” mentality will certainly pick up, making it critical for online retailers to consider their own options.
5. Humanizing the Brand
It’s long been understood that the more a customer trusts your brand, the more loyal they will be in the long-term. What many eCommerce businesses are finally picking up is that truly personalizing and humanizing a brand is a wholly differentiating factor with incredible potential impact.
Operating online, “humanizing” a brand involves making some very important changes. For some, this could mean interacting in social media real-time with customers and audiences, for others, it could mean imagining your brand as a fictional character with some personified qualities, or sharing photos from the behind-the-scenes at the office. Technology today is amazing and it’ll only continue to get better in 2018 – use it to your advantage and work some more personalization into your eCommerce journeys and post-purchase follow-ups.
2018 promises to be an incredible year for eCommerce business, and these trends are sure to help you on your way. For more information about conquering eCommerce in 2018 or how to get started with better self-service customer support, please feel free to reach out to our team.