2019. The year of the pig. Dave Grohl’s 50th birthday. The 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Research by Nasdaq indicates that in 2018 approximately 18% of all UK retail purchases occurred online, so it’s fair to say that eCommerce is playing an integral role in fulfilling buyers’ demands. With eCommerce sales expected to hit $4.5 trillion in 2021, you may be wondering ‘what’s in store for 2019?’

Through extensive research and expert insight we’ve put together the top 8 trends that are set to change the eCommerce landscape in 2019. Read on to find out more!

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1. Same-day Delivery

Speed and efficiency have become driving factors when it comes to online shopping. We’re living in an age of immediate gratification which means that when we see something, we want it then and there. It’s therefore no surprise that more and more businesses are choosing to follow in the footsteps of tech-giant Amazon by offering same-day delivery. In fact, approximately 38% of consumers expect retailers to offer same-day delivery, which results in customer dissatisfaction if this isn’t available.

Same-day delivery is particularly popular with products that are time-bound, such as gifts, flowers and electronic parts. Consumers buy these products with a particular occasion or purpose in mind, so failure to offer speedy delivery options will influence customers to abandon their shopping carts and shop elsewhere. In this sense we have witnessed a shift in consumer behaviour whereby speed has become more important than price. Given the choice, consumers would prefer to spend extra money on shipping in order to receive a product on the same day as purchase, than save money but have to wait up to a week to receive items.

First came next day delivery, then same day delivery, and now some businesses have even gone to the extent of offering 2-hour delivery. What’s next? Amazon are currently trialling Prime air drone delivery which aims to fulfill deliveries within 30 minutes. Do you think this trend will catch on? Is the future of delivery in the air?

2. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Inability to see and visualise products in real life is often cited as the number one disadvantage of online shopping. However, Augmented Reality (AR) which imposes digital information onto the physical environment, offers a solution to this. In fact, Oberlo note that 40% of customers would be willing to spend more on a product if an augmented reality experience was offered.

AR first showed up on most people’s radars in 2016 with the launch of Pokemon Go, which quickly became a worldwide sensation. The free-to-play app has been downloaded over 500 million times and imposes cartoon Pokemon into real life settings. Following this in 2017, IKEA launched Place, which lets customers see how items of furniture will look and fit in their homes using just their iPhones. Leader of Digital Transformation Michael Valdsgaard explains that the app is aimed at making experiences easier for customers who aren’t confident about buying.

With that in mind, how will AR impact eCommerce? Firstly, AR offers consumers real try-before-you-buy experiences. IKEA have already demonstrated how this can work for furniture and items for the home. Fashion retailers, however, might want to take it one step further and offer customers the chance to virtually try on clothes before they complete their purchases. As we’ve already established this kind of informative experience helps to increase customer confidence since it irons out any underlying hesitations. For brands AR therefore helps to bring about an increase in sales and a reduction in shopping cart abandonment.

Implementing AR in an eCommerce platform will greatly increase your presence online. Currently the technology is new so getting in first could be a huge foot in the door and help you lead this market. The interaction between user and client will be increased majorly and will give the user a massive boost in confidence in your brand and product. There are many different ways this could be implemented, don’t think your site might not be suitable, there are always new ideas on the horizon. – David from Digitl

3. Image Search

Since customers are increasingly turning to their mobiles first for the initial stages of their buyer journeys, it makes sense that companies are spending more money to ensure their mobile experience is interesting. BloomReach found that visual image search is associated with more product views, more return visits, and an increase in average spend. In recent months ASOS has launched a visual search tool than can be used to narrow down customers search and prompt product discovery. When a customer sees something in a magazine or on a friend, the app allows them to take a photo and search for similar products available to buy on ASOS.

In this sense visual search can be a key differentiator between your business and tech-giant Amazon, especially since Amazon are big advocates of stock photos with plain white backgrounds. In our webinar with Vikas Arora, Senior Account Director at Bing, he predicted that image search will take off in 2018. This trend is set to grow year on year!

Mohan Patt, eBay’s vice president of buyer experience says ‘moments of shopping inspiration can come at any time, whether you’re walking down the street or browsing your social media feed. At eBay we’re focused on creating new complimentary technology that helps our millions of shoppers easily find the things they love at the best value’

4. Mobile-first Commerce

By 2020 it’s expected that 45% of total eCommerce revenue will come from mobiles. Not optimising your website specifically with mobiles in mind therefore means you may be losing out on potential sales. In fact during the period between black friday and christmas, mobile commerce sees a major boost, as it accounts for 64% of overall online sales. One thing to bear in mind though is that mobile-friendly websites are different to mobile-first websites. Mobile-first refers to a situation where mobile design and implementation are considered during the initial stages of website development. It’s imperative that eCommerce companies embrace mobile-first designs since most consumers use their mobiles to complete their initial research about a product or service before moving to a desktop computer to complete their purchases.

The main advantage of developing a mobile-first website is that customers will have better overall experiences. This is due to things like simplified payment technology using fingerprint and facial recognition. What this means is that mobile-first eCommerce will increase conversions, as customers stage engaged as they move throughout your website.

When it comes to mobile first, you should look to optimise images using lazy load techniques, serving different image sizes based on view-port sizes, after all, you don’t want your customer’s data being hammered. You should also look to use carousels where possible to shorten the page length when showcasing featured or related products, endless scrolling on a shop/category page will deter the user from using the site again on mobile devices. You should also consider the basket/checkout experience for the customer, utilise one page checkouts to make purchases that much simpler for customers – Javed from Digitl

5. Cryptocurrency as a Payment Method

This year our interest in cryptocurrencies has been as prevalent as ever. Over time there has been a steady increase in the amount of businesses offering these alternative, digital payment methods on their eCommerce stores. It’s predicted that Alternative Payment Methods are set to replace cards to become the second most popular eCommerce payment method by 2021. What’s more CoinPayments, one of the world’s leading cryptocurrency payment providers, recently announced a partnership with eCommerce platform Shopify.

How have we got to this situation? Cryptocurrencies offer a decentralised payment processing platform for eCommerce leaders. The benefit of this is lower transaction fees. On average BitPay take a 1% flat settlement charge, whereas credit cards charge a 3% rate. Furthermore, by using cryptocurrencies businesses have more control over the fees that they pay.

6. Chatbots as Personal Assistants

ChatBots are arguably one of the most significant innovations of AI from recent years. However, around 75% of UK customers have not yet spoken to a ChatBot. They use intelligent customer insights to scan the web, give product recommendations, facilitate transactions, answer questions and much more. Since they are robots, customers can obtain efficient answers quicker than ever before. This helps with customer satisfaction as speed and availability are integral aspects of good quality customer service, according to Veeqo.

As ChatBots are always in operation, they automatically gather lots of insightful customer data. Over time this information can be used to streamline processes to ensure they are working at maximal efficiency. Customers will have access to 24-hour service and in turn ChatBots will know precisely how to respond to them. To find out more about our opinions on ChatBots, as well as seeing some of the best bots that the internet has to offer, head over to our blog.

7. Shopping via Social Media

Social shopping is the love child of online shopping and social media channels, namely Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Popular social channels have begun to introduce ‘buy now’ features that allow consumers to shop and purchase items direct from that channel without having to navigate to the brands website. This represents a shift whereby consumers have become lazier – we can no longer expect them to leave the platform they are currently using in order to purchase a product on other platforms. Social selling is therefore a powerful integration, especially since most engaged social media users are ready to buy. In the next few years it is expected that native selling is expected to overtake on-site sales.

Back in March 2018 Instagram launched a shopping feature to its platform, which allows users to tag up to five products per image (that means twenty products per carousel!!). This gives users quick access to a products, its detailing and pricing which nurtures interest and makes the purchasing process easier. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 90 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post per month to learn more about products. The situation is similar on Pinterest too! 73% of users said they have purchased something after seeing it on Pinterest. Pinterest also integrates with BigCommerce, Demandware and Shopify to allow shoppers to buy directly from the platform!

8. Monthly Subscription Services

Over recent years subscription boxes have flourished in popularity. But the subscription box model is nothing new, businesses have been doing it for years – just think back to the monthly gardening and train magazines your grandparents used to get! Research shows that 15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive products on a recurring basis, frequently through monthly boxes.

For customers, subscription services offer convenience and peace of mind. They know that their product will be there when they and where they need it. Subscriptions also make budgeting a lot easier as monthly expenditure is more predictable. In 2017, beauty subscription box Birchbox shipped 1.5 beauty boxes and this number has grown again year on year. Subscription services also benefit businesses too since customer retention is much cheaper than customer acquisition. It’s more cost effective to keep customers happy so they repeat their custom, rather than constantly try to attract new prospects.

Subscription services have become a very popular way for e-commerce businesses to operate. Running a subscription service helps you build a stronger relationship with your customers and provides you with valuable feedback on a recurring basis. Customers are more likely to become loyal to your business if they’re receiving products every single month. It doesn’t matter if you’re selling digital content, physical goods or software as a service – if you’re looking to introduce a more predictable revenue stream, a subscription model might be a good fit for your business. – Ivo from Digitl

Wanna chat about how your eCommerce business can utilise these trends? Get in touch!

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