eCommerce has rapidly become one of the most essential components of retail success in our technology driven world. In 2017, worldwide retails sales in eCommerce reached $2.304 trillion. This was a 24.8% increase from the previous year. As more customers prefer online shopping from the comfort of their home or the convenience of their mobile device, these numbers are expected to see steady growth over the coming years.
In 2018, stores can no longer survive without an online presence. Businesses need to make themselves present on their customers’ chosen networks. This means that completely integrated digital commerce is necessary for survival. Here are the top eCommerce trends businesses need to consider if they want to secure business growth in 2018.
Facebook Messenger Ads
In 2017, we saw a rise in the use of Chatbots. 2018 will be no different, except Chatbots will no longer be used exclusively by big businesses. Facebook messenger ads offer auto-reply options and built in Chatbots to help simplify the buying process. Small businesses can increase their efficiency without losing their personal touch. This is a huge benefit to both businesses and customers.
Before social media ads see their costs skyrocket with the increased popularity, make sure your business has taken down the basics. Upload your catalog to Facebook Shop. Social media works best for driving traffic and closing sales when:
- Businesses use retargeting to bring visitors back to a site and close the sale. Dynamic Product Ads can help retarget site visitors based on what they were already interested in and viewing.
- Companies use customer testimonials and videos to increase visibility and earn trust.
- Businesses create a campaign that builds a loyal online community.
With Facebook numbers at an all-time high, you can expect great ROI when you invest in Facebook Messenger Ads, PPC, and other social media advertising efforts.
Voice Will Change eCommerce Forever
Voice assist products are huge. Think Google Home, Siri, and Amazon Echo. With the continued push for convenience, customers love voice assist shopping. 2018 is expected to see a complete shift to voice as consumers speak into their devices or use voice to interact. Get ready to change the way you communicate with your customers.
While SEO and advertising will see changes, so will eCommerce. The biggest effect of voice to interact will be seen around in-depth product information being compatible with voice search. eCommerce businesses will need to find a way to deliver their inventory to customers in real-time. Get ready to face the challenge!
Mobile Checkout Takes the Lead Over Desktop Checkout
From making purchases on the go to making in-store purchases, mobile checkout will be the latest and greatest in the life of the consumer. The convenience and speed of service will be something no consumer wants to do without. And, what does that mean for the merchant? Get ready to invest because whether customers are renewing services on the go or checking out in your store, they will want to do it from the expediency of their mobile device. And that is not something you can afford to ignore!
Simplified payment options are all the rave in 2018. The advancement of fingerprint and facial recognition have made that happen. The ease of this technology is certain to show a boost in the percentage of transactions merchants see on mobile devices. Mobile checkout is certainly on its way to be the preferred method of payment for retail purchases.
As Google, Samsung, and Apple continue to make advancements in their payment technology, most retailers are jumping on board. Just look around. If you don’t use these technologies yourself, how often have you seen someone do any of the following:
- Purchase a cup of coffee through their mobile as the cashier scans the barcode on their screen from their Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts app.
- Withdraw money from an ATM using a mobile app.
- Make a purchase from Amazon Go. The cashier less store allows customers to automatically scan and charge purchases to their account.
- Use PayPal to send or receive money or purchase goods.
Localization, Personalization, and Customer Experience
One thing will always remain the same in business-differentiation matters. In previous years, localization and personalization have been a major player in differentiation. 2018 will be no different. Personalization offers a better customer experience, and localization is just one segment of personalization.
If you want to give your customers the “WOW!” factor, you need to deliver an exceptional customer service experience. This can include anything from easy to reach representatives to free shipping to a user-friendly website. But, without localization and personalization, your efforts will still be lacking. Localization means adapting your product or service to meet the needs of your local market. Combining this with the ability to customize your products and services to meet the needs of your customers is just one more way to set yourself apart.
Expect to place even more focus on localization and personalization in 2018. Investing in customer satisfaction will bring your business one step closer to the top. Localization and personalization are two elements of customer satisfaction that your customers will certainly notice. Your competition won’t be able to keep up with all the customer loyalty you’ll get when you implement these trends.
One thing to keep in mind for 2018 is that content creation and distribution is not going anywhere. It is an integral asset and important tool to support your goals of increasing web traffic and improving conversion rates. What you can expect to change is the types of content you should be using. Visual content is on the rise. We saw the true debut of visual content in 2016 with the use of YouTube and Facebook videos for business marketing. As you can probably guess, those efforts have just scraped the surface.
Snapchat originated in the personal world of communication but has shifted towards a major presence in the business world as companies’ market through the “Story” feature. And social channels like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and Snapchat continue to compete with one another for the latest and newest video features in the world of social media. There’s not telling where this trend is headed, but it’s definitely headed up!
Although video is a huge trend now, variety is still important. Content formats and distribution channels can be overwhelming as more and more choices emerge. But, blog posts, eBooks, and other forms of written content are still relevant. And, not only are they relevant, they are essential components of your marketing strategy to drive traffic to your eCommerce site.
In 2018, keep content exciting, personalized, highly-targeted, and diverse. Content is crucial. Keep your content strategy strong.
Game-Changing SEO Expected to Dominate
2018 is going to see a great deal of excitement when it comes to SEO. Search engines are always looking for new ways to improve search results, which is why SEO is always changing. If you want to stay ahead of the competition in 2018, you need to know what ranking factors matter. SEO is complex, so expect 2018 to be a challenge when it comes to SEO. But, stay on top of the newest ranking factors, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Here’s a list of the most popular SEO trends you should jump on in 2018 as they gain momentum:
The rise of SERP features
- Organic ranking is no longer the leading factor in getting the most traffic for your website. SERP features are stealing the attention of searchers and gaining clicks from organic listings. You’ll need to track your rankings with SERP features and monitor what shows up for your keywords and where you’re losing out.
Enhance your listings with structured data
- If you want to keep up, you’ll need to implement structured data, track rich snippets and track your site.
Faster is better
- It’s no secret speed is big. It is a ranking signal and a major factor in user experience. 2018 is all about survival of the fastest as Google expects pages to load in under three seconds! Take the page speed test and integrate a website auditor to see where you stand and how you can improve. They will even offer you advice on how to fix your issues.
- Google wants to make sure you’re putting out quality content. That’s why in 2018 you’ll have to make sure you have great content that is comprehensive. A website auditor can also help you analyze your content and fix your terms and phrases.
Combining these SEO factors with things like voice search capabilities, mobile-friendliness, and personalization will plant you at the top of the listings and keep you there. Just be sure you continually check. You don’t want your competition to sneak in while you aren’t looking.
Watch for a Subscription Rush
Possibly more convenient than mobile checkout, subscriptions will also see a surge in 2018. What is easier than having common products automatically reordered, charged, and shipped to you without you having to do it yourself? Nothing! Startups like Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, and Stitch Fix have molded this popular new way of online shopping.
Subscription eCommerce offers consumers convenience, personalization, and cost-efficiency when purchasing items, goods, or services they need and want on a regular basis. While subscription services have seen a rise in recent months, subscription services aren’t new to the game. Netflix made its claim to fame as brick and mortar video stores were on their way out. And the popular streaming media service adapted to the ever-changing technology world when they moved from DVDs to online streaming-media. And, let’s not get started on Amazon Prime. We all know the success there. The point is that subscription services will continue to see a rise in revenue as consumers in today’s busy society place the burden of renewing or reordering products on the merchant and their subscription services.
Omni-channel Retail Becomes More Rampant
Another trend expected to rock 2018 is omni-channel retail. Businesses can expect a full-service solution that makes their products and services more comprehensive. Want an example? Linking your online store with your physical store.
Omni-channel management is necessary for businesses of all sizes. Small retailers can link rewards programs for both online and brick and mortar shopping. Customers can reserve items online for in-store events. This allows for both convenience and personalization as customers can guarantee they get what they need but step in-store to meet your employees. Physical stores remain an important part of the customer experience. They turn visitors into customers. Omni-channel retail just increases the customer relationship as current customers move over to your eCommerce site to purchase additional services.
Never heard of it? It’s time to jump into the world of augmented reality, especially if you are in the retail business. Customers no longer want to try to imagine what something would look like, they want to KNOW. That means brands need to roll out the features that allow consumers to head to their mobile apps and visualize items in their home before they make that final purchase. We’re not only talking furniture here, either.
From desks and dressers to blenders and microwaves, consumers want to see how an object will look in their personalized environment before they click that final button to place an order. As we keep mentioning convenience, there is nothing less convenient than having to return a product after you purchase it. That’s why more and more businesses are implementing new features into their mobile app, so consumers can see what something will look like in the actual place they are looking to put it.
CRO and Data-Driven Optimization
Conversion rate optimization is vital to any business. CRO is especially important when it comes to PPC campaigns. You need to make sure you’re not wasting money paying for visitors who don’t convert to customers. 2018 trends for CRO and data-driven optimization will help increase your ROI when it comes to CRO. So, what can you expect?
Obsessing over your customers is a previous trend that isn’t going out of style. It gives you all the information you need to create successful marketing campaigns and make more sales. The more you know about your customers, the more you can personalize their experience. Optimizing your tracking will be more complicated than ever before. Keep track of what ads were clicked on, how they converted, and what they downloaded. But also keep track of the less obvious details like geographic location, time of day the conversion was made, device used, and whether conversion became a sale. The more you track, the better you will know. The better you know, the more you will grow!
One to One Marketing
Until now, marketing tactics have been performed by targeting pre-defined groups of people. It looks like we will finally see the end of this approach as Millennials will likely be the last generation that is targeted as a generation. Marketing experts of the past would define a large and varied group of people based on one common factor, such as Baby Boomers or Millennials. Goods and services would be sold by aiming at their buyer weakness-a common factor that drew in most consumers. As artificial intelligence further expands, the customer experience will become more customized from person to person instead of group to group.
Behavioral data is more readily available. Therefore, we can easily leverage consumer behaviors to create initiatives that target customers more specifically than we were ever able to before. The near impossible concept of one-to-one marketing has transformed into reality, bringing us back to the retailer/consumer relationship of mom and pop shops from years ago. By analyzing consumer behavior, you can now create a more personalized, data-driven experience that will have your clients talking.
Hold on tight, retailers. 2018 is expected to take us to places we never thought we would go. But, if you want to make it there, you need to be willing to do things you have never done. eCommerce trends for 2018 are approaching. Your customers are relying on you to deliver exactly what they need from their favorite online shop. Are you ready to face the challenge? We sure hope so, because your eCommerce store and your business depend on it.