2018 eCommerce Round-Up

woman with shopping bagsWhat happened in eCommerce during 2018?

Omni-Channel grew in importance

If you want to see why having an integrated, Omni-Channel approach to retailing is so important, take a look at the multi-channel funnels data in your Google Analytics panel, especially the assisted conversions data. This will show you that user journeys for eCommerce are becoming extremely complex, with users diving in and out of not only different advertising channels but also devices used to access those channels.

 

The fact is, the people who buy products online in 2018 find those products in a variety of different ways and have many routes to purchase, which means a fully integrated Omni-Channel experience is becoming more and more important.

It’s no longer acceptable for retailers to utilise eCommerce, social media, branding and advertising to gain business, all these mediums need to be closely integrated so that the overall experience for users is completely seamless.

Personalisation surged forward

You only have to look at how larger retailers leverage user data to see why personalisation is so important for eCommerce.

Creating a personalised shopping experience is absolutely key to user retention and conversions and will become even more important beyond 2018.

The ability to leverage user data to provide a personalised experience has been shown to increase those all-important ‘add to baskets’, aids in re-capturing lost conversions and increases repeat businesses for eCommerce retailers who use these types of techniques. If you aren’t already utilising personalisation to boost user experience for your business then you really need to start immediately.

Rise of the Robots

The further use of AI assisted voice search systems such as smart home devices, smart speakers and assistants from Google, Amazon and Microsoft have changed the way we all interact with our devices. This in turn means the way we search has changed, with a move towards natural speech.

Search is no longer dependent on a keyboard, touchpad or mouse. This has massively affected how we all search for things.

Instead of truncating search terms we use to attempt to find the right brand or product, voice search systems can utilise their in-built artificial intelligence to return results and offer buying choices based on natural voice queries.  We no longer type ‘chemist in Caernarfon’ as speech-based search allows us to just say ‘I need some headache tablets’ and our smart assistant will return the nearest results automatically.

M-Commerce

Mobile commerce sales have been growing for years now, with Google stating that they saw more search traffic on mobile devices than desktop way back in 2015. In 2018 for the UK, we are seeing 20% of all retail sales as eCommerce and almost 60% of these eCommerce sales are associated with mobile usage.  This means if you’re a retailer and your eCommerce website isn’t fully responsive, so that your website users can seamlessly access using any device, your business is losing valuable sales.

The vast majority of users now use mobile devices for initial research into products, but it seems more and more of us also now are not afraid or feel constrained by smaller screen sizes when purchasing.

Social Shopping

It’s really big in China, but starting to emerge strongly in the West. If you’ve not heard about social shopping then chances are by the end of the year you will have.

Social shopping is the merger of social media with eCommerce and it’s going to transform the way we all shop.  Facebook shopping has been a reality for quite a while now, but with social media platforms like Instagram launching their own shopping programs in the UK, social media shopping is guaranteed to explode next year and beyond.

In China, celebrities utilise Weibo and other platforms to sell products directly to followers. Developments like Instagram’s ‘shoppable posts’ and similar developments on Facebook, where users can create their own video shopping channel (via the ‘facebook live’ video streaming service) mean we can all be social stars with our own shopping channels.

Distributed Delivery

The great thing about eCommerce is that products can be sourced from anywhere on the planet and be delivered to our door, but increasingly we are demanding easier ways to access the goods that we have purchased. Distributed delivery and ‘click and collect’ promise the convenience of eCommerce with the flexible delivery options to give us faster access to our purchases.

Amazon is now offering it’s one-hour delivery options in a number of different locations in the UK, with deliveries supplied from its own distributed delivery network within a one-hour timeslot. Limited trials of drone deliveries have proven effective and await regulatory approval before launch.

Meanwhile ‘click and collect’, once the preserve of large retailers is now available to even independent retailers, with a nationwide network of collection points available for this service.

What does 2019 hold?

Expect to see a lot more of the same in 2019! More personalisation, easier access to products and more ways to shop will be on the cards, but don’t be surprised if you see new technologies employing augmented reality devices, Virtual Reality shopping and an even closer merge of social media and eCommerce in 2019 and beyond.

Recently G2Crowd launched it’s predictions for 2019. Check out the article!

David Fairhurst

Head of eCommerce

Intelligent Retail

David has been involved with Search Engine Optimisation and web development since 1999 and has spoken at many different retail and SEO conferences including Spring Fair and SES London

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