The world of ecommerce has come a long way since its roots in the earliest stages of the internet-and it's changing further with each passing year. The past year saw advancements in many forms of consumer-facing technology, and businesses jumping on those trends, but how is the world of ecommerce responding to those advancements?
Let's take a look at some of the biggest trends in ecommerce for 2018.
Why is it so important to pay attention to these trends?
- Advancement opportunity. If you understand these trends early, you can get ahead of the curve and incorporate them to improve your brand's position.
- Competition awareness. Even if you aren't interested in these trends, you can at least learn what your competition might be up to and respond accordingly.
- Customer expectation anticipation. Your customers' needs and expectations might change as these trends become more popular; you need to accommodate those new perspectives and needs.
The Biggest Trends
Below are some of the biggest trends to watch for in ecommerce for 2018. Some of the biggest ecommerce platforms are already working on incorporating them into their designs and offers, while others are waiting to see how they play out:
- Animation. For starters, ecommerce platforms are going to do more to support animation. Now that we live in an era with blazing fast internet speeds, there's no reason to settle for images as our best view to a product. Sure, there are videos, but producing videos is cost- and time-intensive, and most people don't watch beyond the first 30 seconds anyway. The solution is using GIFs (which have become incredibly popular in the past few years), and other forms of convenient, small-scale animation to highlight new products and make sites more interactive for web visitors.
- Social shopping. Social shopping has been a hypothetically powerful concept for the past few years, but only now are ecommerce platforms and the brands who use them starting to take advantage of it. The idea is to incorporate more social media-related interactivity and content into the traditional online shopping experience; for example, you might allow users to share a recent purchase, or ask friends for recommendations. Either way, you increase your brand exposure and give your customers added value.
- Machine learning and AI. Over the past several years, ecommerce providers have done a much better job of collecting data from visitors and customers, aggregating that data for business owners to use at their discretion (in many cases). Now, advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are making it easier and more possible to take that big data and use it to form actionable conclusions. Soon, businesses will be able to learn more about their most important customers, and at a faster, more competitive rate.
- AR and VR. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are highly similar forms of technology that are starting to become more cost-efficient and feasible for applications. Soon, online retailers may be able to integrate AR and VR experiences into their online storefronts. This could mean anything as simple as a 360-view to show how a product can be used to a fully immersive experience, similar to a video game, to demonstrate a product hands-on. Change here will come slowly, so don't expect a VR revolution for another few years at least.
- Checkout optimization. ecommerce platforms are constantly looking for ways to smooth out the checkout process-the final moment that stands between a visitor and a paying customer. Expect to see platforms accepting a wider variety of currency and payment types, and more options for one-click transactions.
How will ecommerce evolve beyond 2018? That remains to be seen, but it's unlikely that the industry will remain still for long. There are hundreds of budding technologies out there, and an online audience hungry for more new features and functionalities. If you want to stay a step ahead of the competition, and be seen as a thought leader in your industry, it's in your best interest to either incorporate these trends into your ecommerce strategy, or find an alternative way to accommodate them.