The Future of E-Commerce in 2018
eCommerce is already a big deal. Regardless of what kind of retail you’re involved in, by now you’re likely feeling the pull of eCommerce, and enjoying its benefits if you’ve invested in a robust eCommerce platform.
Globally, Australia is one of the top nations for online sales, and for a country with a population as relatively small as ours, it goes to show just how much we’ve embraced online sales.
But what’s next? What can you expect to come from eCommerce – the rapidly changing field that it is – in 2018? There are a number of dominant trends to look out for:
1. A better multi-device experience
It won’t be enough to just have an online shopping website in 2018. Changing consumer habits mean that people will want to do their initial research on a mobile phone, further compare prices on a tablet, before completing the purchase on their laptop or computer. Or they may spot something they like while browsing the Web on their laptop one night, and then decide to make the impulse purchase the next morning on the commute to work.
eCommerce platforms will need to accommodate multiple different devices and screen sizes, while providing a cohesive shopping experience that allows a consumer to start the process on one platform, but finish it seamlessly on the other.
As a result of this trend, more brands will be focusing on the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) of their e-commerce platforms. This focus will ensure that regardless of how a person is interacting with the brand, they are still going to get a smooth, clean, and easy experience.
2. Social media becomes more than a marketing tool
Most brands have been using social media as a marketing tool until now, primarily as a chance to interact and communicate with consumers. But in 2018, the emerging trend will be for these social media platforms to themselves be integrated with the buying platforms, so that consumers don’t even need to leave the social media page to complete their purchases. This is going to be a powerful opportunity for brands with large social media followings.
3. The potential of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality will be unleashed
Imagine that you are furniture shopping with your mobile device and want to see how a table will look in your living room. Using the power of Augmented Reality, you’re able to point your phone’s camera at the room, and a scale image of the table will appear right on the screen, showing you instantly whether the table would be too large for the room in question. That’s just one opportunity on offer with Augmented Reality; the idea that you can bring the digital and physical world together. It is a largely untapped eCommerce opportunity that is going to become huge in 2018.
4. Data, data, and more data
Brands are already collecting as much data about their customers as they can, but 2018 will see data collection being taken to the next level. It’s going to be critical to use data to provide individual customers with highly personalised experiences that really speak to their preferences and tastes. So don’t be surprised if you hear a lot about “online concierge experiences” in 2018, where the customer’s data is used to recommend relevant new products, proactively answer questions that haven’t even been asked yet, and so on.
Consequently, the only way that data’s going to be collected is if brands have a compelling reason for a customer to hand over the data in the first place. This will see the use of loyalty cards and other data gathering tools becoming far more robust for many brands in the new year.
5. Supply chain optimisation
With Amazon now in the Australian market, brands will need to be far savvier about their supply chains to ensure that customers get their purchases quickly and conveniently. The only way to properly optimise supply chain is to build as much automation as possible into it, so brands will be investing heavily in optimisation solutions throughout 2018.
6. Customer service will rely less on real people
Customer service can be a prickly issue, as the internet means that more requests can come in from various international locations, and handling the load can become a significant expense. Unless you invest in some smarts, that is. Chatbots are increasing at a compound annual growth rate of 24.3%, which is incredibly fast, and it’s easy to understand why – when it comes to simple and common answers a chatbot can give customers the same satisfactory answer that a response from a human can, and only those more complex questions need to be answered by the human customer service team.
7. Get along with your customer’s digital assistants
The Internet of Things means that people will increasingly rely on digital assistants to take over the management of their lives. For example, a fridge will be “taught” to automatically put new orders in for groceries as items like butter and milk run low. Brands focused in areas where there is that element of digital assistant purchasing will need to make sure their brand “interacts” with the digital assistant to ensure that it makes those purchase orders with their brand, and not a competitor.
8. Cross-border eCommerce will become bigger
For now, a lot of brands actively lock out cross-border purchasing, as fraud concerns, regulatory requirements in other markets and logistics all prove to be an expensive headache to overcome. But that’s going to change in 2018, as more solutions and a better understanding of selling into key markets will reduce those barriers to entry. Australian brands stand to benefit a great deal from this, as a relatively small domestic market, with four massive markets on our doorstep (Indonesia, India, China, Japan). This will mean that local brands can increase their sales exponentially simply by starting to sell into these neighbouring markets.
Get ahead of the competition
Taking advantage of these eCommerce trends requires a robust understanding of technology. For many Australian brands, it will require a significant amount of new work to be done. However the opportunities are so great, that the returns will more than justify the investment. To help you take those steps in preparedness for the growth of eCommerce in 2018, be sure to contact EB Pearls.