These days, we’re on our phones more than ever. With ecommerce apps like Amazon gaining popularity and the ease of ordering online steadily increasing, it’s no surprise 51 percent of Americans now prefer online shopping to brick-and-mortar retailers. It’s an exciting time to be a part of the ecommerce industry, especially with the big changes on the horizon for this year. Whether your online store sells high-end footwear or secondhand hockey sticks, there are some exciting new trends guaranteed to change the way you think about your business and go about communicating with your customers in 2018.
1. The use of brick and mortar stores
Shoppers are becoming more demanding. After all, Gen Z is getting older and becoming a bigger part of your shopping base, and they’ve been referred to as the “always on, always on demand” generation. Simply seeing your products online isn’t going to be enough for them; no matter how many five-star reviews you have or how much fabulous content you produce, more and more customers want certain parts of the buying process to take place live and in-person.
In fact, 50 percent of millennials would rather go to storefronts for specific needs and services, so you may find companies with online products but variations on live, in-person services to streamline the purchasing process. If you’re running a smaller ecommerce store, you can still do this on a micro level; for example, sending customers clothing to try on, like Azazie’s sample dress experience, which brings the bridal gown boutique experience straight to a customer’s living room.
2. Subscription services
Considering even ecommerce giant Amazon.com is starting a delivery-based fashion subscription box service for Amazon Prime customers, it’s no surprise that delivery subscription services are one of the big ecommerce trends of 2018. As explained by Bloomberg.com, “Subscribers to Amazon Prime can choose three or more pieces of clothing, shoes, or accessories to fill their boxes, which arrive at their doorstep. They then have seven days to try on the items and decide what to keep. Unwanted items are shipped back to Amazon.com.” According to Forbes.com, the number of subscription company website visitors has increased by 800 percent since 2014.
So if you’ve got the kind of product your customers can “rent” — whether that’s fashion, shaving services, portable exercise equipment, or something else entirely — you should definitely consider starting a subscription service. This way, you can make money from customers “trying out” your product and gain new repeat customers based on how much they’re able to pay. Check out this guide to finding your ecommerce subscription niche to get started.
3. More mobile spending
We spend over 4 hours a day on our smartphones on average, and technology is making it even easier for us to make quick (often impulse-driven) purchases with the rise of digital wallets. So it makes sense that ecommerce stores are trying to perfect mobile-based shopping experiences to appeal to these changes. If you haven’t already started thinking yet about how you’re going to sell your product on smartphones, tablets, and other network-connected devices, it’s time to start getting those gears turning.
Something else to think about is the layout of your website. Has it been updated recently, and does it reflect your store’s mission and your customers’ preferences? The fact is that 70 percent of people don’t trust badly designed websites, so if you’re not sure your website is up to par with consumer expectations, you should check out Shopify’s themes to see how you can create a better browsing experience.
4. Artificial intelligence
Finally, artificial intelligence is one of the biggest ecommerce trends this year. According to DigitalJuggler’s James Gurd, “In 2018, we’ll see more companies investing in chatbot services to automate part of their customer service process. The market for chatbots and automated customer service is growing; a Business Insider survey reported that 80 percent of businesses expect to have chatbot automation implemented to some extent by 2020.”
So chatbot automation is certainly something to consider making part of your ecommerce store, since it makes it possible for customers to receive assistance around the clock. There are some simple tools for building the right chatbots for your business, which you can check out here.
As you can see, there are some monumental changes happening this year in the ecommerce world. Luckily, an ecommerce store of any size can implement them, which means that this year, you can improve your site and services to become even more successful.
What ecommerce trends are you most excited to implement in your business? Tell us what changes you’re making in the comments.
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