Phillip Moorman

Are you ready for the future?

2018 has been a banner year for e-commerce, as digital spending has continued to go up compared to brick and mortar. Amazon just posted its biggest day of shopping ever this Cyber Monday. No matter where you look, all indications point to e-commerce being not just a pillar, but the pillar of sales for most companies that want to succeed.

But what’s coming down the road? What trends do you need to keep an eye out for next year?

Let’s get out our crystal ball and look at what to expect in 2019:

1) Better Personalization

In 2017, 40 percent of US consumers bought a more expensive product than they intended because their shopping experience was personalized to them.

That’s staggering.

Personalizing the shopping experience for customers is a great way to serve them products they’re more interested in buying. It also allows you to capture a larger percentage of the dollars they’re already spending by upselling them to better versions of what they already want.

At the same time, 63 percent of marketers polled in an Ascend2 study called out data-driven personalization as the hardest tactic to execute—by far the highest percentage of any tactic mentioned.

Consumers are more wary of advertising than they’ve ever been …

But at the same time they want content that fits their needs and wants, tailored to their tastes. Those who can deftly navigate between this Scylla and Charybdis while safeguarding their customers’ data will reap the rewards in both dollars and loyalty in 2019.

2) Omni-Channel Selling

Customers expect to find you across a wide variety of channels now. It’s not enough to just have one. Marketers are responding to this expectation—a survey by Target Marketing headed into 2018 found that 43 percent of marketers were planning to increase emphasis on omni-channel in the coming year.

That trend is ticking up …

Where are your customers now? Are they on eBay? Amazon? How about your site? Are you touching them across multiple social media channels? More and more, when you ask the question “where are my customers looking for me?”, the answer is “everywhere.”

Expect to see that continue in 2019.

3) Increased Automation

If you’re not automating more of our process in 2019 than you were in 2018, you’re falling behind. There are plenty of ways to do that, but one of the ones that’s seen a big boost lately is chatbots, which allow you to create a better user experience with minimal friction and expense.

Automated machine learning is getting better each year, and now there are more plug and play solutions on the market. Better data analytics, marketing campaign personalization, and more will all come from increased automation in 2019 as well.

4) Smart Home Emphasis

Want to guess what Amazon’s best-selling item was this Cyber Monday?

The best-selling item on its best-selling day ever? It was the Echo Dot.

Smart home devices are here to stay, and they’re exploding in popularity. Smart speakers and voice search are the next battleground for e-commerce sellers, and in 2019 it’s going to be even more important that you capitalize on natural-language, long-tail search queries that are going to be commonly used with smart speakers.

Make sure you’re getting picked up on voice search. Make sure you’re dominating the Amazon buy box. Because in the smart home world that’s coming, if you’re not first, you’re probably not anywhere. 2019 will be a key year for those who want to get ahead of the curve.

5) Cryptocurrency Payment Methods

Some e-commerce companies are already seeing success with alternative payment methods.

Bitcoin is a tiny percentage of all online purchases, but as crypto begins to make inroads on the mainstream, you can expect to see that number go up. One Paypal executive noted that there was a “very high likelihood” that Bitcoin would become a popular payment method.

By 2021, alternative payment methods are expected to become the second largest payment method used in e-commerce. It’s a small but significant chunk of sales. If you haven’t already started accepting some of these alternatives yet, consider adding the capability in 2019 as it continues to trend upward.

6) Subscription Box Growth

Subscription boxes may have slowed from their 2014 or 2015 growth rates, but this is a sign of a maturing industry. Customers are still very interested in the subscription model, with unique site visits going up year over year and continuing to grow.

Bigger players like Amazon, Walmart and others are moving into the space, and Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club seems like a harbinger of things to come.

This space isn’t the explosively growing field it once was, but there’s plenty of opportunity still there for those who want it. That will continue through 2019.

7) Influencer Importance

Millennials in particular don’t trust traditional marketing and advertising.

But they do trust people.

Most don’t mind watching small ads to support personalities they enjoy, and they are more willing to support things if they’re linked to a person that they enjoy watching, reading or listening to. That’s why influencer marketing is enjoying its day in the sun right now.

Instagram is one platform that’s crucial for influencer marketing (as we’ve said, ourselves), and the success of companies like MeUndies, Blue Apron and other well-known podcast advertisers indicates that influencer marketing is something that you can capitalize on across multiple channels.

The more distrust of advertisers becomes mainstream, the more important influencer marketing becomes. Expect that to continue to grow through 2019 as millennials keep becoming a larger chunk of the e-commerce pie.

The Future Is Bright

These are a few of the trends that we can expect to see in 2019 …

But no matter where we turn, the future of e-commerce looks bright. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the trends and stay up to date with what’s happening in e-commerce, and you’re sure to reap the benefits.

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