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Phillip Moorman

It’s been a hectic and productive 2018 for the ecommerce industry. Moving into 2019, the ecommerce industry continues to grow as new technologies and trends are being embraced by ecommerce entrepreneurs around the world.

The eCommerce business continues to change as online sellers constantly engage in various ways to effectively drive new innovative change for the online shopping business they own. According to information provided by statista.com, the worldwide ecommerce sales are estimated to reach up to $4.8 trillion by 2021. While sales continue to grow more businesses are putting more effort into reaching their digital audiences through new marketing tactics and tools to make online shopping easier.

We’ve compiled a list of the fastest emerging trends in the ecommerce industry to give you insights into the future. Here are the four trends we feel every online retailer should be made of aware of in 2019.

Internet of Things

One of the biggest trends that we’re noticing in the ecommerce industry is the IoT space.

Internet of Things (IoT) is one of quickest growing technologies, which in the most general sense is making everything “smart”. Whether it’s working equipment, toys for toddlers or even clothing, everything is capable of being made intelligent by infusing sensor technology with machine learning.

Companies are using IoT to gain a competitive advantage in the ever changing landscape of ecommerce. An example of this is WalMart using their own IoT technology to track sentiment on products using social media to identify new product opportunities.

IoT is also being used in warehousing and production processes themselves with sensors now being able to identify when forklifts are most likely to breakdown, thus causing major production delays or to communicate with robots in order to pull and load up packages efficiently.

With RFID tags supply chain managers can now track up to the minute production insights allowing them to precisely identify where their products are and when they’ll be arriving. This helps reduced overstocked inventory, sales delays and allows for accurate predictions for the next production runs.

IoT is giving many larger ecommerce companies a major edge in the industry, but as the technology matures smaller businesses will gain access to improve their own internal processes.

Augmented Reality

For customers, one of the largest downsides for online shopping is not being able to touch, test, or try out the products. Augmented reality (AR) will be undertaking some massive steps towards bridging that problematic gap.

AR will take 3D product images and display them in front of the customer as if the product was right there in the room with them. Through the use of the customer’s phone, or specific tools such as AR goggles customers will be able to see what a product looks like without actually going to a store. WayFair has been using similar AR ecommerce technology to allow users to see what a piece of furniture will look like in their room before making a purchase.

It’s a brand new concept that will take ecommerce to the next level in 2019. Most online shoppers are more willing to purchase an item after being able to physically see it. With augmented reality, people will be able to get a 3D overview of how the product could look like in their hands.

Shopping for furniture and high-priced items online is tough and augmented reality will make this process much more fluid for their customers.

During 2018, Shopify introduced their Shopify AR, allowing their smaller ecommerce merchants to employ this amazing technology into their stores. However, it will still involve some financial investments to pull this off, even so, Shopify has written an in-depth how-to guide on how to set it up for your store.

If you have the time and finances to pull this off, then it may be time to dip your toes into the AR world with a few of your more successful products and see if its benefits from AR.

3D Printing

3D printing has become increasingly popular due to its ability to dramatically decrease production costs. With 3D printing online ecommerce stores are now able to provide samples to their customers and even their manufacturers at a fraction of the cost of sending a genuine product that might get returned later.

Interestingly enough, 3D printing will also bring an emotional component to the purchasing process by allowing customers to connect with specific choices before committing to the actual item. In short, it’s about giving the customer exactly what they want

Retailers such as Eloquii have been running in this direction for quite a while, and brands such as Adidas have experimented with on-demand, 3D-printed apparel. Even Amazon got in the action, with a recent acquisition for a body-scanning firm Body Labs and new funding for scanning technology developer such as Naked Labs fired up excitement with its concept.

Traditional manufacturing methods produce a lot of processing waste, chiefly through the subtractive nature of most of the work. Like chiselling statues, factories take lumps of material and steadily refine them into the required shapes, a process that inevitably leaves unused chunks and slivers that must then be discarded or recycled.

3D printing, however, is a careful additive process. Raw materials (typically malleable thermoplastics, as noted) are distributed layer by layer to form structures, and any supporting structures are built of the same material which can then easily be melted down once again for reuse.

This process is slower in many cases, but the value of requiring only one substance for the bulk of construction more than makes up for it (for small items, at least).

In the ecommerce world, this is a tremendous advantage. Whether pursuing in-house manufacturing or outsourcing to dedicated operations, retailers can massively cut down on material costs. It also easily allows for what is known as topological optimization, which involves carefully arranging a structure for optimal performance (it’s much harder to achieve for designs that are built piecemeal and subsequently assembled).

With that in mind, prototyping a product and showing an example through the power of 3D printing will be huge for any startup or company in the ecommerce industry for 2019.

Additionally, companies such as Onpoint Manufacturing have enabled the production process of allowing shoppers to obtain apparel in a size combinations that most rack selections don’t provide.

Drone Delivery

Fulfillment has always been an exciting topic within ecommerce, with Amazon raising the stakes each time with their fast and cheap delivery options. With up to 65 percent of retailers planning to offer a same-day delivery during the next two years, the need for a much more efficient method of fulfillment is becoming a pressing matter.

Additionally, by using drones, Amazon can completely eliminate many of the issues that come with traditional delivery methods. Instead of relying on human delivery, which is prone to be late or incorrect, drone delivery can be controlled directly by Amazon itself.

Tech and eCommerce giants like Google, Amazon, WalMart, Alibaba, UPS and Facebook have all been hard at work developing and creating their own drone prototypes and many have started testing these delivery systems with customers. Gur Kimchi, the Amazon executive in charge of its Prime Air drone project, discussed how drones are a more effective means of delivery than droids and that the company plans on covering 80 to 90 percent of their shipments with drone delivery in the near future, according to a recent Bloomberg article.

Not only have they already begun being used as a delivery option in some cities, but drones are also being used commercially as first-aid vehicles, tools for police departments, high-tech photography and recording devices for real estate properties, concerts, sporting events, and more, and later this year Facebook, more specifically Mark Zuckerburg, hopes to have drones in the sky delivering Internet to the underserved regions of the world.

Drone delivery for ecommerce is a massive upcoming trend in 2019, but this doesn’t go without obstacles. Before orders are shipped, they are typically assembled in a staging or docking area in a warehouse to be loaded into trucks. With drones, this docking process will need to be redesigned and may require changes to how products are picked for an order.

This is not a small change, as existing processes will have to be redesigned for supporting drones and employees will need to be trained on these new processes to make drone delivery successful.

That’s just one problem that drone delivery ecommerce companies are running into.

Statistics have shown over 40 percent of consumers would consider using drone delivery, and countries around the globe are starting to place regulations and planning the trails to make this a possible reality.

For example, The US has 10 regions already undergoing a three-year test of feasibility, while in the UK, a monitored low-level flying area is being developed so that the current restriction for drones to remain in the flyer’s line of sight can be lifted.

Delivery trails have been predicted to begin for the UK sometime during 2019. Iceland is lucky enough to have their products already being delivered by drone across the wide river in the capital city of Reykjavik, while Japan’s own Rakuten allows shoppers the option to have their goods delivered by a drone. Lastly, DHL in Germany is testing out its own “parcelcopter” for more efficient delivery.

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