The year 2018 has brought lots of innovations and changes to the world of e-commerce. With 2019 just beyond the horizon, let’s look at what trends will continue and what new trends you can expect to see surface in the upcoming year.
This is a trend that started in 2018, but will continue to get stronger here. This is a really useful tool for small and medium sized businesses to utilise. Since it’s not possible for small business owners to have 24/7 customer service, having a chatbot available to answer some common questions for customers can be very helpful.
Having a 24/7 customer support “agent” can be very useful, especially during peak sales seasons (e.g. Christmas). Chatbots don’t get disgruntled either (at least in 2018 they don’t), so maintaining high quality answers that fit your brand image is also relatively easy to maintain. Not only that, but chatbots can handle multiple customers at once.
As personalisation and AI become more relevant, chatbots can even be used for upselling and cross-selling as they can “remember” a visitor’s preferred products.
Artificial Intelligence & Machine learning
Speaking of chatbots and A.I., the terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” are all the rage lately. If you’ve been to any e-commerce fair this year, then you’ve no doubt noticed the influx of companies offering these services. Sounds complicated, but it isn’t.
Artificial intelligence can be thought of as a way for automating certain tasks. With machine learning, those tasks become more efficient and more effective. In the world of e-commerce, this could be used in a multitude of ways. As was mentioned above, you can use this technology to upsell and cross-sell. Chatbots also fall under this category.
You can also use this technology to send discounts to users who have been inactive for a while to get them to engage with your website again. You can also learn about customer behaviour on your website and use this data to optimise your website and the user experience.
The possibilities are plentiful with this sort of technology. You shouldn’t be intimidated by it, but rather embrace it.
Zalando has been experimenting with a “fashion assistant” to cross-sell products based on a user’s preferences
Revenge of the brick-and-mortar shops
With Amazon and Alibaba, two of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world, pushing out new retail stores, it might leave some of us scratching their heads. Of course, if you’ve been keeping up with the news, you’d know that these aren’t just any brick-and-mortar shops.
With Amazon Go, we might be getting a taste of the future - shopping without queueing. Their new technologies allow shoppers to pick items up off the shelves and just walk out of the store with them. Scanners and cameras throughout the store will charge users’ Amazon accounts for all the items that they buy.
Alibabab opened up a physical store (named FashionAI) lets users pick up items throughout the store. Digitally enhanced mirrors in the dressing rooms provide users with more information about the product, including more sizes and colours. Similarly to Zalando’s fashion assistant, the mirror at FashionAI will try to cross-sell products based on the items you’ve already chosen.
No, you don’t have to open up a robot-based business to keep up with the trends in 2019, but it is worth keeping an eye on what other trends occur in the physical world. Afterall, there is something about shopping in the physical world that e-commerce cannot duplicate (yet).
Pop-up stores have also become quite popular in the last years. It might be a nice way for small online businesses to get their feet wet and test out the waters of traditional retail.
Voice search SEO
We’ve covered the topic of voice searches in the past, so hit the link to read about it in more detail. However, some of the main points to remember are that SEO will be effected in some ways.
For starters, voice searches mimic real life conversations more often, so your writing might want to reflect this. For example, if you were to search for caribbean food in Brixton with a traditional search, you’d probably just type “caribbean food Brixton” into your smartphone or laptop. If you were to conduct a voice search, you would ask the full question “What caribbean restaurants are there in Brixton?”
This might seem like a small change, but it could affect the rankings of your website. And when it comes to voice searches, these voice assistants tend to focus on the number one ranked link for a given search term, thus making that number one spot even more valuable.
It seems like every day we hear a new warning about the urgency to change our ways when it comes to the environment and pollution. With many brands being built on the premise of being “green”, I expect this trend to get even stronger in 2019.
Companies will embrace the need to be more environmentally friendly and naturally they will publicise this fact to their audiences. Shops that succeed at doing this well enough will see sales grow in 2019.
2019 will be as futuristic as ever. Robots, machine learning, and even more environmentally-conscious companies will flourish in 2019. Has your company embraced any or all of these upcoming trends? What else do you see becoming more popular in 2019?