Wayne Gretzky, the uncontested greatest hockey player of all time, was asked a question about just how he became so good at the game. His answer? He would “skate to where the puck [was] going to be, not to where it had been.” In other words, he anticipated what was going to happen and planned ahead, as opposed to what has happened or even what is currently happening now.
The same principle should be applied to your business. While it’s certainly important to examine the milestones and important financial and eCommerce trends that have resonated the last few years, you need to be prepared for what is going to be big in the future. This might mean taking risks that don’t pay out, which is unfortunate but nearly unavoidable in the long run. However, when they do pay out, they pay out big. Are you ready to anticipate what’s coming next? Here are five trends that will shape eCommerce in 2018:
The National Retail Federation estimated in February that eCommerce would grow 8-12% in 2017, which comes out to about $435 billion of growth. Another encouraging figure comes from TechCrunch, which reports that 70% of Americans do at least some of their shopping online. That’s about 255 million people. If you manage an eCommerce business, you have a vast pool of potential customers that can be tapped into with the right strategies and, if your business is stable, it’s recommended that you take those next steps into expanding your customer base.
There’s something great about seeing something while out on the street that catches your eye, pulling out your phone and finding it online, and making a purchase. Mobile shopping allows customers to make purchases whenever the urge strikes them, no matter where they are. This is great for eCommerce businesses for several reasons. First of all, customers will obviously have more access to your site. When they visit more often, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Plus, there is less chance of them forgetting about something they want to buy because they can do it right away.
Mobile shopping will become even more popular in 2018. However, to really make the most out of this trend, it is vital that you have a very mobile-friendly website. It’s easy to get confused or even suspicious of purchasing anything through your phone, especially since we’ve been (rightfully!) conditioned to be leery of putting our credit card information out into the world. When consumers see that you have a site catered to their mobile devices, they will feel much more comfortable clicking “Purchase.”
Live Chat Services
Customer service is one of the most important facets of converting a potential customer into an actual one, and online shopping is certainly no exception. But, how do you connect with customers that you can’t see? This is a bit of a tricky problem that has two potential solutions, both of which involve the same tool: online chat. The first method is to have chat pop-up as soon as someone visits your site, or set to appear after the visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your site. While this certainly gets their attention, it can also be seen as a bit pushy to the customer, like a sales representative immediately approaching a customer walking into a store.
The other method is to have chat capabilities that are clearly visible to any visitors, but wait for them to come to you. You would be surprised at how many people want questions answered but don’t want to pick up the phone and call. When they have a chat option, they are much more likely to take advantage of it, which gives you an opportunity to seal the deal and convert them. If you’re not available to sit by the computer waiting for people to send you questions, you could consider setting up an AI chat bot, which will be an important part of this 2018 trend.
One of the negative side effects of the eCommerce boom is that shoppers are getting increasingly lazy and picky about what they’re looking for. Despite the fact that scrolling through pages of items is still exponentially more convenient than walking through a store looking at everything, consumers want it to be even easier. Expect companies to improve the way they monitor visitors’ time spent on their sites so that they can provide a more customized shopping experience for them the next time they visit.
Let’s use an example. Sarah loves shopping online for clothes and has a favorite site that she goes to. However, from that site, she has never purchased a heavy coat, despite the fact that the site offers several great coats that other people love. Because of this, it is probably safe to assume that Sarah will probably not be buying a heavy coat any time soon. The site would use the information that it has to minimize the number of heavy coats presented to Sarah so that it’s easier to scroll through the types of items that she has purchased in the past.
Shopping with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
When Pokemon Go was released in 2016, people all over the world were swept up in it and dove head in. Pokemon Go is a form of Augmented Reality, or AR, a technology that superimposes digital imagery on the real world. In our opinion, Pokemon Go was only the tip of the AR iceberg, and we’re about to see it really take off in the next few years as eCommerce companies begin implementing it.
Being able to turn your camera towards yourself and get a glimpse of what a particular hat would look like, for example, would make shopping even more fun and immersive. We can only imagine what kind of creative experiences wait for us once virtual reality and AR technology becomes more accessible, which we hope is next year.
If you’re a consumer, get ready to enjoy all the power of technology being catered to you. If you work in eCommerce – better get started on setting the trend!
Author Bio: Arthur Jones is a writer and consultant specializing in the latest developments in eCommerce, from setting up a global payment gateway to writing about ‘brick and click’