Current retail trends show that 51% of Americans prefer online shopping, with e-commerce growing 23% year-over-year. The industry is expected to grow to $4 Trillion by 2020.
With constantly shifting consumer habits, it’s essential that online retailers adapt quickly to the demands of the new age customer, so that they aren’t left trailing in the wake of competitors.
To stay ahead of the curve, here are the anticipated e-commerce trends in, which will shape the digital landscape for online retailers in 2018:
Though personalization has remained a constant trend over the last few years, there has been constant innovation in the field to provide the best customer experience. Thus, it is recommended that retailers chalk out a personalization strategy by the first quarter of the year, to get a kickstart during the later sale days.
It is recommended to add personalization to all multi-channel campaigns i.e. promote content that fits your visitors’ interests, buying stage and history. This would help get the right message across to the right people and do away with the “one size fits all” philosophy.
With dynamic re-marketing, one can include the products or services users viewed on a website within the ads they’ll encounter around the web. This allows retailers to show highly-customized messages and a personalized offer to visitors, that will encourage them to return to their site and complete their purchase.
So far, email personalization has been based mainly on past events. We’ve all received post-purchase emails for similar products, or emails reminding us to come back to abandoned carts. But customers now expect more recommendation-oriented experiences from brands, which involves micro-segmentation of data along with predictive analytics.
2. Predictive Analytics:
We have all heard and read in extensive detail about Predictive Analytics. But it’s adoption has been not been that extensive. This could probably be attributed due to the costs involved and the inability to understand its use cases entirely by organizations. But with Big Data coming in, things are changing rapidly, as more affordable and less complicated solutions are now available that can be used by companies of all sizes.
Predictive analytics enables industries such as e-commerce, to understand consumer preferences. It provides intelligence as to what customers are most likely to buy, determine the highest price they will pay for a product, provide product recommendations and practice better price management.
Online retailer Macy’s, has witnesses the benefits of predictive analytics by deploying a solution from SAP. The solution enables targeting registered users on their website more effectively. Within 3 months, Macy’s saw an 8 to 12 percent increase in online sales. They combined browsing behavior within product categories and also sent targeted emails to each customer segment. (Source:Fierce Retail)
3. Augmented Reality:
Augmented Reality is again an area many retailers want to venture into, but it is imperative to have a top-level strategy in place for the same. Many leading retailers have been looking at upgrading their AR offering over the years.
IKEA launched its Place app last year, which allows users to see how various IKEA products would look in their homes. They realized that earlier versions of the app were not very user friendly. But they improvised on it and the later versions turned out to be more stable and intuitive. (Source:Techcrunch)
Augmented Reality has the potential in bridging the gap between offline and online stores, when it come to the retail industry. Research by IBM shows that 58% of consumers prefer to get product information in-store before a purchase. Also, 19% of customers will browse mobile devices while shopping. In sync with these consumer behavior patterns, IBM launched their AR App. The augmented reality technology help the app act like a personal shopper and provides them personalized information while shopping.
Gone are the days when one had to hold on for several minutes for a call centre agent to address queries over a call. We are living in an era of conversational commerce, where chatbots, a relatively new type of software, can talk to or converse with customers through messaging applications. They direct and support online shoppers on their purchase decisions, answer queries and even upsell and cross sell. The technology not only helps to maximize efficiency, but to build customer loyalty and affinity.
eBay’s chatbot technology ShopBot, a virtual personal shopping assistant helps people find items they want (at the price they want) on eBay. All a consumer has to do is type in some details about the product they are looking for (e.g. women’s hiking shoes under $75). eBay ask you all the relevant questions to find the perfect fit, style, and color for the consumer.
5. Voice Shopping:
In 2018, voice recognition technology will play a key role in the shopping cycle and will be one of the leading drivers of innovation in the ecommerce space.
Adoption of smart home appliances such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home units has been a major driver of voice search. It is indicated that almost one-quarter of consumers (24%) own a voice-controlled appliance and further 20% plan to purchase one this year. (Source: Walker Sands)
To leverage this growing opportunity, retailers should strategize on how to integrate voice shopping capabilities in their e-commerce programs. With an increasing number of users searching for products using voice assistants, retailers should also look into make their sites and products voice-searchable.