Nothing ever stands still in the world of e-commerce. As technology changes, so do the strategies and practices people use to drive sales and grow their businesses.
When carving a place in the future of e-commerce, it helps to know its various trends and how some of them will end up shaping the industry. To that end, we’ve put together a guide to the five trends we see affecting e-commerce in a big way.
Read on for a peek into what tomorrow might hold for online retail.
1. Conversation as the Key to Conversion
By now, you’re probably aware that chatbots and other forms of conversational AI are making waves in the digital landscape. By 2020, an estimated 80% of businesses will have made an attempt to use chatbots to connect with, manage, and qualify their leads.
There are two forces at play here.
The first is that chatbots present businesses with an appealing offer: interface with customers without having to spend on manpower and position yourself as innovative.
The second is that consumers are responding very well to conversational marketing, with 69% of them preferring to interface with chatbots when they have questions for a brand.
Today’s chatbots are already capable of engaging in fairly complex discussions with leads, so as the industry develops them even further (which they will), expect AI to be a mainstay in your kit of client-facing tools.
2. Voice Searches will Match Traditional Searches
Experts predict that, by 2020, half of all online searches will be done by voice. This is big news for websites across the board, as it radically changes the game for user functionality and SEO.
If tomorrow’s customers do grow used to literally asking their devices questions, then platforms and sites that support voice recognition will be ahead of the curve.
The digital age has taught us that convenience is a sure-fire way of keeping customer loyalty (just ask Snapchat, which lost big when its rivals provided users a one-stop shop), and there are few things more convenient than getting answers without having to twitch a finger.
Likewise, businesses will have to rely on new SEO tricks to achieve prominence in a future dominated by voice searches. Neil Patel reports that voice searches are typically longer, typically focused on local queries, and typically performed by people looking for instant results.
This doesn’t mesh perfectly with today’s paradigm for SEO, so expect adjustments to matter.
3. The B2B Market will Continue to Grow
Habits are a tough thing to break, so it’s no surprise that a growing number of B2B transactions are made online --after all, the same people in charge of business purchases are likely used to shopping online.
If you need proof, consider the fact that BigCommerce reported that 80% of the B2B businesses they surveyed took orders and received payments via the website.
Ecommerce tactics have traditionally focused on optimizing for individual consumers. Far from being a problem, we think this only requires minor adjustments on the part of ecommerce firms; the people who will decide on corporate purchases would appreciate a smooth purchase process just as much as your average shopper.
Our forecast is that the most successful B2B suppliers will be the ones who marry the best of both worlds. B2B businesses have to learn to develop sites that can hook leads with a clear and compelling value proposition while making the final purchase as easy as clicking a mouse button.
4. Progressive Web Apps will Make Online Shopping More Seamless
Progressive web apps stand at the intersection of websites and native applications.
By making the end-user’s device do the heavy lifting instead of relying on web servers, PWAs allow ecommerce sites to provide faster and more uniform browsing experiences.
Ecommerce giant Alibaba launched AliExpress some years ago, and the shift landed them some striking results: a 104% increase in new users across all browsers, double the pages visited per user session, and a 74% increase in session duration.
We’ve known as early as the mid-2010s that customers hate waiting for pages to load, which means a transition to the PWA format for online experiences is going to be a must for ecommerce sites before too long. Some have gone as far to suggest that 2019 will be the Year of Progressive Web Apps, and we’re more than inclined to agree.
Going back to the fact that convenience reigns supreme in the digital world, you can count on sites that prioritize speed and seamlessness to bag more sales and more loyal customers as they days tick by.
5. E-Commerce Outfits will Have to Get Social
Instagram’s experiment with supporting ecommerce is proving to be a success. As of earlier this year, the platform has progressed from redirecting users to check-out pages, to facilitating in-app payments.
Marketing for ecommerce will have to make the necessary pivot to take advantage of the fact that more and more social media sites are opening their doors to hosting transactions --a feat which many businesses should find easy enough, given how many ecommerce sites already market themselves and their products on social.
On top of the need to launch creative and compelling product features, integrating with the social media world’s new features will be an important box on any ecommerce business’ checklist.
Business is all about change, and the world of ecommerce is a strong argument for that rule.
Tomorrow’s playing field will likely be dominated by chatbots, voice searches, B2B transactions, progressive web apps, and social integration --and we’d bet on businesses that get with the program.
Likewise, it pays to build your ecommerce business on only the strongest, most agile foundations. Varbase by Vardot is an enterprise website builder platform that has proven a reliable fit for clients looking to make it big in today’s (or tomorrow’s) ecommerce environment.
Noticed any trends that we missed, or disagree with our assessment? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.