This article has been written by our friends at ShipStation, experts in ecommerce fulfillment and shipping software.
2018: A Year in Review
2018 was quite a year. Ecommerce expanded all over the world as Black Friday sales continued to set record highs. B2B ecommerce dominated the landscape and mobile purchasing experienced a major spike. In many ways 2018 was a transition period for an industry poised to make big changes in the immediate future. The growth of ecommerce has skyrocketed within the past couple of years. More and more, companies need to be innovative with their digital storefront just to keep up with the growing online demand.
2019: Upcoming Ecommerce Trends
With 2018’s results in, here’s how we predict 2019 will look...
#1: Are we done with free returns?
As described by Absolunet, return rates from ecommerce sales are 2 to 4 times higher than brick and mortar stores. While free returns may appeal to your customers, it may not benefit your bottom line. The cost of managing returns can be reduced dramatically by offering different return policies. Free exchanges, instead, can ensure that all is not lost. Furthermore, a restocking fee can help mitigate loss. Get creative - there are many ways to simplify online shopping returns! Returns are an essential part of your business, but should not lessen your success, so plan carefully.
For more information on returns, check out ShipStation's blog.
#2: Mobile payments will increase
In 2018, mobile sales accounted for 52.2% of all worldwide online traffic and are only expected to grow in 2019. With the increase in mobile sales, payment companies will have to standardize payment approaches to make the buying process simpler and more secure. It is expected that global mobile payments will increase by $150 billion in 2019.
Test your payment gateways - are you ready to accept mobile payments in store and online? If not, implement them now through these steps:
Begin offering mobile payment options: There are many options available for your ecommerce store including Apple Pay and Google Wallet. The more choices available to your customers, the more likely you are to close a sale.
Develop a mobile payment strategy: Online shoppers enjoy using mobile payments because it’s easy! So when developing your strategy, streamline the process to not over-complicate the shopper’s experience. Don’t forget to optimize for mobile shoppers as well.
Pay attention to mobile apps young people are using: As one can expect, mobile payments are overwhelmingly popular with younger generations. Many apps, like WhatsApp, are working to acquire this audience by adding mobile payments to their platform. It’s only a matter of time before other tech giants follow. As soon as you’re aware of these new options, make sure you can offer them to your customers as well.
#3: Smart home assistants will yield sales
Smart speaker devices became all the rage in 2018. According to TechCrunch, 41% of US consumers now own a voice-activated speaker. Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s Homepod will push the industry forward, urging ecommerce brands to move into these new channels and create voice-savvy customer experiences.
There are a few actions you should take in your business to best optimize your site for voice searches, such as:
Compose complete sentence questions and answers in your company articles instead of breaking them up into several sentences. Since individuals generally ask their smart speaker devices questions in full sentences, this helps people find your content and your products.
When deciding on your target keywords, keep the informal nature of speaking in mind. By targeting longer, more commonly phrased keywords, you are better positioned to rank higher online.
For local “near me” searches, make sure you’ve optimized for natural language content. Via this approach, smart speaker users will be more likely to hear about your business when they look for neighborhood specifics.
#4: Chatbots will increase conversions and retention
In 2019, “conversational commerce", or businesses and buyers who connect through messaging apps, will be visible on most major ecommerce sites. Corporations are adopting chatbots to immediately communicate with their customers and find solutions to any obstacle. These bots are available day and night to reduce friction during non-business hours. They use artificial intelligence to help customers overcome their challenges and create a more personalized shopping experience.
Major companies, like Sephora and Disney, are using chatbots for multiple purposes. Right now, many of them help customers to complete their purchases, offer product recommendations, and even provide customer support.
Ecommerce is a competitive space and with so many other merchants, it’s important to stay ahead by reaching your customers in a more strategic way.
#5: Video marketing is set to improve your branding
As social media continues to evolve, videos are becoming an increasingly popular way for businesses to reach more customers. 360-degree videos introduce products to the market in a unique and interactive way. For example, one can best see the dimensions of a purse they are looking to purchase. Not only are 360-degree videos good for specific products, but they are also great for travel companies, real estate, museums, car dealerships, and more.
Creating these videos for your business does not have to be difficult. Investing in a quality camera and editing software can help you put together marketing content that can dramatically increase your sales in 2019.
These trends have the power to reinvigorate your business’s bottom line. The ecommerce industry has expanded dramatically over the past year and positive outlooks are around the corner. With the increased use of artificial intelligence, ecommerce is heading towards creating more personalized experiences for shoppers and having these tips in your pocket will lead to a productive and efficient new year for your business.
Happy selling in 2019 from all of us at ShipStation and Brightpearl!