In this day and age, ecommerce consumers have more options available than ever before and, as a result, can afford to be more selective in terms of which organizations they patronize. This poses a problem for ecommerce shops because they have to work twice — if not three times — as hard to attract and retain consumer interest. In order to maintain an edge in today’s highly competitive marketplace, ecommerce organizations are looking to highly creative and innovative concepts to engage online consumers.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at what are expected to be some of the biggest ecommerce trends heading into 2019.
Say Goodbye to Stock Photos
Stock images of smiling customers carrying colorful shopping bags, brightly lit and well-appointed showrooms, and perfectly arranged flat lays are, to put it generously, tired. Although these images can be aesthetically pleasing, they’re a missed opportunity because they fail to convey anything meaningful about your products or your brand to the consumer.
Rather than continue to use generic, nondescript imagery, include dynamic visuals that clearly showcase your product’s features. For example, if you’re a retailer that sells luggage with a built-in USB charger, waterproof lining, a durable polycarbonate shell, and expandable compartments, you might consider highlighting these innovative features in a spec sheet; you might also consider including video content showing a model packing one of your suitcases to demonstrate how much it can fit.
Ecommerce retailers who wish to truly push the envelope should look into including animated graphics and interactive features on their online store to further spark interest and engage consumers.
Marketing Tailored to the Youth of America
According to ecommerce statistics from the Pew Research Center, millennials are projected to become the largest demographic in the United States by 2019, surpassing baby boomers. This also means that Millennials are on track to surpass Baby Boomers (as well as Gen X) in terms of purchasing power. In order to harness this purchasing power, ecommerce retailers need to find Millennials where they spend most of their time — on social media.
As the first generation to grow up with social media, Millennials are more likely to consult sites such as Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest when researching purchasing decisions. In fact, Millennials are 247 percent more likely to be influenced by blogs or social media than traditional advertising. It’s imperative that ecommerce organizations establish a strong social media presence — ideally one clearly communicates their brand identity — and promote high-quality content tailored to their specific buyer persona. Follow and collaborate with influencers in your industry to make them brand advocates. Engage consumers via direct messaging to add a personal touch to customer service. Take care to ensure that your content is exciting and engaging, but also straightforward and informative.
While you’re at it, it doesn’t hurt to start to look even further into the future: Gen Z — the demographic born roughly between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s — will eventually displace their Millennial predecessors, bringing their own unique expectations for the ecommerce customer experience.
Online Retailers Look to Amazon for Shipping Inspiration
In 2018, the name “Amazon” has nearly become synonymous with “two-day shipping.” That’s because while other businesses were still working out the kinks in their supply chain, the ecommerce titan was cornering the market on fast shipping — and free for Prime users — enticing consumers to sign up for its premium service in droves. More and more ecommerce retailers are turning to similar shipping methods in advance of 2019, with some even considering same-day shipping as a means of establishing or maintaining a competitive edge. Expect to see other shipping innovations in 2019, as well, such as drone delivery, driverless freight, and one-hour delivery.
Of course, fast and affordable shipping is only beneficial if products actually end up in the hands of the people who ordered them. Supply chain logistical issues have long been the bane of ecommerce organizations’ collective existence, so you can also expect to see retailers lean heavily on technology to identify ways to automate inventory management and streamline the supply chain to drive efficiency.
Here Come the Chatbots of the Future
You might read this and think, “Chatbots? Really?”
While it’s true that chatbots aren’t exactly a recent innovation — the first was developed by MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s — the AI and machine learning technology that powers them is more advanced than ever before, and it’s completely changing the way ecommerce organizations handle customer service. Natural language processing has become so sophisticated that, in some bots, it’s nearly indistinguishable from ordinary human speech.
With a wealth of data to pull from, advancements in AI technology have made it possible for chatbots to anticipate consumers’ needs; some bots even use sentiment analytics to monitor changes in a consumer’s tone and intelligently “decide” when to pass the consumer over to a human operator. As chatbots such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Siri become a staple in households across the country, more consumers are using bots and voice-enabled equipment to place orders and make transactions, creating a new ecommerce channel.
More Ways to Pay
Speaking of ways to make transactions, consumers now have more ways to pay for purchases than ever before. In addition to PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other digital payment systems, this trend is making it faster and easier for consumers to make payments and for ecommerce organizations to process them. Blockchain and cryptocurrency are also on the rise, leading many businesses to consider expanding their payment options to accommodate consumer demand and provide a more secure transactional system.
To implement these and other ecommerce trends in advance of the New Year, start by partnering with an ecommerce solution provider with the proven expertise to help your business grow and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. Hitachi Solutions’ team of ecommerce experts can help you take advantage of the latest ecommerce trends by developing an implementation plan tailored to your organization’s unique needs and business objectives.
Have any questions for Hitachi Solutions’ ecommerce experts? Start a conversation today.