The Top Five E-commerce Trends in 2018: A Technological Revolution

Anthony Madden
Sep 21, 2018
Digital Content, Retail

As more and more retail consumers shift to the online world, e-commerce is rapidly growing faster than ever before. As technology continues to evolve, customer behaviour has the potential to change. This is why it’s imperative to be aware of the latest e-commerce trends in order to stay ahead of the curve.

Let’s take a dive into the top five e-commerce trends that could change how marketers, consumers and businesses think.

1. Augmented Reality: The new way to shop?

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Augmented Reality was once just a 1980s sci-fi concept. Then, over the last decade, developers started to experiment with it on smartphones. It was really nothing more than just a gimmick, until recently. In 2017, major e-commerce AR apps started to hit the scene. Now, in 2018, e-commerce giants are getting behind this technology.

Amazon, IKEA and Houzz have AR apps that could change the way you buy furniture forever.

No longer do you need to wonder what a piece of furniture would look like in your house. AR allows you to scope your room with your phone camera, browse a catalogue of furniture, and then place that furniture virtually in your room. On your phone screen, you will see your room as well as a graphically generated piece of furniture that you can move around. This gives you a perfect insight to see exactly what it would look like, instead of buying furniture and then finding out that it doesn’t look right.

This seems like a perfect solution to the problem that many online retailers face; a high volume of returns and the argument that buying online means you can’t see the item in person before you purchase it.

Upon trying this myself, I do still believe it’s a slight gimmick and needs further development to be able to fully understand the scope of the room. However, this technology is still evolving. It has huge potential and one day could blow up into the mainstream. It’s a trend really worth keeping an eye on.

2. Customer behaviour targeting using adaptive AI

Machine learning technology is continuing to develop and is backed by e-commerce sites. This is something that is very much changing how products are marketed to users.

Product recommendations will become more accurate by targeting you based on what you’re interested in. AI will learn about your shopping habits and suggest products that are much more relevant to you. Products will not primarily be focused around keyword targeting anymore.

Machine learning will calculate many factors, such as what you bought last week, what your typical price range is, and if the product on the screen can be associated with various interests. It can adapt to your changing behaviour, and learn what a popular in-season product that speaks to you is.

Even more personalised ads will be the focus this year, and the need to target an age group of people will increasingly decline. There’s no need to target “Millennials” or “Londoners” when you can target a much more specific set of people based on relevant interests that the AI has learned. The marketer’s dream of being able to market 1:1 from data is edging closer to a reality.

Marketing to a demographic in 2018 has started to become dated thanks to machine learning technology. Marketing to more specific users based on customer behaviour is a trend that we will see across almost all e-commerce sites this year. You will see personalised ads as long as you click accept on those constant GDPR prompts.

This technology expands beyond just e-commerce and is used in all the major online entertainment services. YouTube has been using this technology for years to recommend videos. Spotify creates weekly personalised playlists of music based on what you’ve been listening to. Netflix creates a homepage that is littered with relevant programmes and films based on your viewing habits.

As machine learning technology improves and adapts to your needs, the shift from demographic marketing to user-specific marketing will become increasingly common.

3. Shipping innovation: Meeting gratification demands

Amazon have been leading the way for e-commerce delivery and they are doing it again with their new one-day delivery service. You can now order a product and receive it on the same day in select areas on Amazon. With some time-sensitive products such as food, they can deliver within an hour of ordering.

This is going to change the landscape of e-commerce. Every major e-commerce business will be striving to achieve this for fear of being left behind by Amazon. Customer expectations increase as services improve, and, sooner rather than later, one-day deliveries will become the norm if Amazon can fully establish this. Any e-commerce business that cannot achieve this will ultimately result in customers going elsewhere.

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Customer gratification demands are increasing every day; the demand for delivery to be instant is growing as e-commerce giants continue to innovate. It’s important to be thinking about how to find different ways to serve this demand. Making delivery a top priority is definitely something to think about.

The likes of Amazon now have GPS tracking on your parcel, allowing you to know where your delivery driver is, and how many stops they have to make before delivery.

Amazon are continuing to innovate their delivery process. Amazon Prime Air is a service that delivers packages using drones. There are likely going to be complications with regard to when this service will operate due to possible airspace restrictions and drone damage, but it’s something that could be on the horizon.

Similarly, driverless automated freights are something that is in the works at various retailers and automotive companies. There isn’t news of Amazon taking part in this, but it’s likely going to be a whole new market for e-commerce businesses to latch onto in the future.

 

 

4.Photo shopping: Accelerating e-commerce

Image search is a new technology that could significantly impact online retail. Think of the Shazam app, but for product images. Technology is being developed to give you the ability to take photographs of a product on your smartphone and receive information around that product.

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When Shazam came out, it eradicated the problem of being left frustrated after hearing a song but not knowing what the song was. Now with image search, people will no longer marvel at the perfect handbag or pair of shoes and be left wondering where can they buy it.

This technology could definitely pose a threat to physical retailers, as image search will fetch places you can buy a product at a competitive price online. What’s more image search could pose further problems to physical retailers. Someone could walk into a store and see a chair that they really like but can’t afford, take a picture of it, and image search could fetch them cheaper alternatives.

It goes without saying that every e-commerce business should be thinking about this, as this technology could very well be highly advantageous to the online market.

5. Voice search: The next step in customer loyalty?

This is something that almost every marketer is talking about. It’s something that has divided opinions amongst marketers as to whether it will truly change SEO and marketing in general. Nevertheless, it’s something that marketers are preparing for. Supporting voice search as an e-commerce site could open up opportunities to users who do take advantage of it.

We have touched upon how voice search works in a previous post here.

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Google Home, Amazon Echo, mobile and other various voice search enabled devices are growing in popularity, and it is reported that 40% of Millennials regularly use voice search via Shopify.

By not optimising for voice search, you’re missing out on reaching a pool of people that continues to grow every day. Voice search optimisation on e-commerce sites will revolve around detailed product information that can be compared with live store inventory.

Voice search could quite possibly be the next step in customer loyalty. According to Consumer Research Intelligence Partners, Amazon customers using voice search buy more often than regular Amazon users.

Now, this could be because the most enticing feature about voice search is its ability to fetch great results when buying products. It’s also typically used for buying regular products that the customer already knows they want, things someone may buy every week like tissues or kitchen roll.

However, this is a strong signal that voice search can be a powerful marketing tool, especially around e-commerce, and it’s something you should definitely think about.

Conclusion

2018 is on the cusp of some groundbreaking technologies that could potentially change the entire landscape of e-commerce as we enter a digital future. User behaviour is changing as the growth of smartphones, voice search and AI continues to dominate headlines and conversations amongst marketers.

I hope this gives you a real insight into what could be around the corner for e-commerce. Although hopefully this doesn’t take us into a dystopian future where our fridges are playing ads, our TVs are listening to us and Alexa is planning on a Skynet attack.



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