We are already halfway through 2017 and e-commerce has already made strides in trends like customer centric content and data driven design. Content is still the undisputed king. Mobile buying is now a thing and buying products defies borders thanks to online shopping. Forrester Research predicts that direct ecommerce sales will exceed $370 billion by the end of 2017.
And considering that recent trends like artificial intelligence and VR (Virtual Reality) are currently making a splash, it’s no wonder that statisticians are so optimistic for the future of the online shopping industry. In this post, you will learn how new emerging trends might have an impact on ecommerce in 2018.
1- Artificial Intelligence will make shopping experiences more personal and precise
Ecommerce ventures rely on SEO practices to personalize how people search for items on the web and on their websites. For example, if an Android phone product page is optimized for relevant keywords that people might use to search for particular models, it increases the chances for this page to show up in search results for these keywords.
Now, thanks to Google’s AI (Artificial Intelligence) first approach, search engines are taking advantage of machine learning capabilities like visual and voice search to make shopping experiences more precise than they have ever been.
Voice assistants like Siri and Alexa are so popular that you can now order items online just by talking to these platforms. Echo, Amazon’s voice controlled speaker for example, uses voice search technology to make online purchases possible. Macy’s image search mobile app allows users to upload photos to search for items that might be similar thereby tapping into real time demand.
To illustrate just how excited and optimistic people who run ecommerce platforms are, consider the stats. A study by ComScore says that 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020. Additionally, retail giants like eBay are already gearing to adopt AI powered visual search tools. By 2018, voice and visual search could become desirable SEO metrics by 2018.
Search engines lack the ability to understand queries the same way we understand human speech. But that is about to change thanks to Google’s AI first approach. In the future, AI might help online retailers scale faster.
2- Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) will make shopping experiences more meaningful
The basic purpose of ecommerce websites is to bring the shopping experience home. But in doing so, you lose out on experiences that make in-store experiences so special like checking the back of a box of cornflakes for suspected allergens. In fact, recent studies show that 58.6% of online shoppers in the US abandon their shopping carts because they were just browsing and were not ready to buy.
Lately, some ecommerce ventures are hoping that VR and AR experience can bridge this gap. To illustrate VR’s impact on ecommerce, consider Swedish furniture company IKEA which created a VR app through which customers can view different kitchen decor offered by the brand. Instead of looking through images on a website, people are given the chance to walk around IKEA kitchens and interact with them via a VR headset and app.
To make the case for AR, consider an app by Sephora which allows users to take selfies and apply the brand’s cosmetic products to their images. Instead of debating whether a shade of lipstick will look good on them, customers can now narrow down their choices from home more effectively.
With a range of technologies like the Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear VR, ecommerce shopping might just become more realistic and comparable to in-store experiences. More people to complete purchase cycles from picking out items to checkout.
AR and VR investments crossed the $1 billion mark in 2016. It will be interesting to see how online business owners might use it to draw customers in 2018.
3- Conversational interfaces are becoming the new customer service representative
Ecommerce is a great way for retail store owners to extend their services to mobile users. However, in doing so it robs them of the personal experience they would get while shopping in a real store. For example, an online store won’t tell you when an out of stock item will be restocked like a salesperson in a real store will be able to.
To bridge this gap for ecommerce, business owners are turning to conversational interfaces like Chabot’s. A customer can speak to a Chabot online to receive answers to queries like this one. Customers can get immediate answers to frequently asked questions whenever they want.
To illustrate, consider Facebook Messenger bots like the Kayak travel bot that you can use to book trips online. The bot is powered by Alexa, Amazon’s intelligent assistant which means you can use the bot to book your travels by voice.
4- Mobile Commerce will become the norm
Statistics show that 80% of shoppers use their mobile phones instead of physical stores to either compare prices, look up product reviews or find store locations. And if consumers are looking for products online now more than ever before, they are also likely to purchase these items online too. In fact, recent studies show that 54% of Millennials prefer shopping online as opposed to 49% of non-Millennials.
Other trends like the rise of the mobile web contribute to the rise of mobile commerce. It’s already made notable progress. To illustrate, consider progressive web apps which offer mobile app like user experiences, access to native phone functionality make certain features accessible in offline support.
In the future, we might be looking at every online retailer adopting such platforms to appeal to mobile first audiences.
5- Data analytics will become the rule, not the exception
Speaking of mobile commerce, an increasing number of consumers now expect solutions that are tailored to their interest and needs. Customers now want more personal experiences. To figure out these needs, retailers are now relying on predictive data first technologies and using what they find to customize shopping experiences more minutely.
To illustrate, consider customer segmentation analysis in Google Analytics tool that divides customers into groups which can be targeted with different discounts and deals. Another analytics metric, predictive analytics can be used by marketers to analyses historical data for factors like inventory management. Advanced solutions can be used to deliver accurate predictions about demand and allocate funds to products that have the greatest potential for profits.
To recap, predictions that may come true in 2018 include AI solutions like voice and image search might make online search more precise. In bridging the gap between instore and online commerce, VR showrooms might make online shopping experience more meaningful. Experiences provided by Augmented Reality technologies might make shopping experiences more useful and considering that mobile use is now the norm, mobile commerce might be too. Additionally, data analytics and related technologies will become an indelible part predicting online shopping trends.
Author Bio: Farheen Shahzeb is a content strategist, digital marketer and copywriter at Cygnis Media, an enterprise app development company. Apart from content writing, she likes to keep up on the latest trends in software development.