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The Latest eCommerce Trends To Ride With Magento 2

It’s fair to say that the demands of consumers, in particular ones in the online space, are an ever-changing dynamic.

While many eCommerce businesses see this as a constant struggle, it also provides some genuine opportunities for nimble companies that are prepared to plan several years in advance – and it’s taking advantage of these up-and-coming trends that can make all the difference to the future revenue of an online store.

When it comes to Magento 2, we’re acknowledging 5 major eCommerce trends that are set to take off in 2019 and beyond. These cover almost every aspect of the online marketplace so it’s likely there’ll be some you’re already aware of as well as others that are still finding their feet in the industry. In our opinion, you’ll want to be involved with as many of these trends as possible going into next year.

These trends are materialising across the entire eCommerce industry, but Magento web design has already taken significant strides to improve their platform and catch up with the biggest industry changes that are coming just around the corner.

First up, we have…

Mobile First, Desktop Later

In today’s fast-paced world, the majority of online shoppers are now making their purchases online rather than in stores, as well as using their smartphones instead of traditional desktop computers.

A survey completed by BigCommerce back in 2018 confirmed this belief by unearthing the growing increase in internet usage by younger generations, particularly when it comes to eCommerce. The survey found that millennials and Gen Xers spent approximately 6 hours shopping online each week, 50% more than the 4 hours spent by their older counterparts.

Not only has general internet usage increased on smartphones, but the traffic entering eCommerce websites has shifted too. Desktop and tablet shopping has been overtaken by mobile shoppers looking for a bargain when on the move. However, the majority of transactions are still completed on desktop computers which shows that the security and familiarity of traditional purchasing methods still has a place in the modern marketplace – for now at least.

The bottom line is that there’s one obvious growing trend right now – mobile shopping or mCommerce. It’s likely that this will soon dominate the way customers both access and purchase from your online store.

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All of these facts point to one growing trend; mobile shopping or mCommerce will soon dominate the way customers both access and purchase from your online store. That said, it still feels like there is quite a way to go to encourage customers to make purchases on their smartphones instead of completing things later on a desktop computer.

One solution that clearly has the potential to succeed is mobile apps. However, there are significant costs associated with not just building a successful eCommerce app, but maintaining it with ongoing security patches and bug fixes. Not only that, it’s only a small percentage of loyal followers from your total audience that will actually take the time to download your app and actually use it over a traditional website.

This is where the Progressive Web Application (PWA) comes in. It’s believed that this technology will form the future of mobile browsing in almost all industries, not just eCommerce.

The main principles that make the PWA so appealing include:

  • A reliable user experience that is fast to load and engages with the user just like an app.
  • Support for a brand new set of APIs which are quicker and more progressive.
  • Improved SEO performance as user experience is one of the key metrics within this field.
  • Consistency across all devices regardless of screen size.

So how does Magento web design support this trend? Well, back in April 2018 they announced the release of the Magento PWA Studio project with the sole aim of helping eCommerce businesses provide app-like experiences through their websites. At the time of writing, PWAs are only currently available through Magento 2.3 and above.

The Magento PWA Studio is also unique in the sense that it’s not a ready-made solution that stores can simply jump into – it provides a set of tools that developers can use to make their own ideas a reality.

John Expert Comment
John Wood, Business Development Manager

Something we see a lot among eCommerce store managers and business owners is a 90% focus on desktop performance, when in fact a much higher percentage of their traffic comes from mobile devices. I would encourage people to close the laptop and view their site with on a mobile, carefully considering optimisations that could be made to improve the mobile purchasing journey that most of their customers are on.

Chatbots & Automation

You might be reading this thinking ‘hold on, chatbots aren’t anything new’ – and you’d be right!

However, this is an area of the eCommerce industry that is very much in its infancy and still has huge potential, particularly when it comes to customer service.

One of the biggest issues facing online businesses at the moment is that of instant interaction. Perhaps the most obvious advantage of going into a physical store over shopping online is that the consumer will be dealt with swiftly, even if there is an issue during the transaction. With eCommerce, you’ll commonly see examples of messages being sent to online businesses that take hours or even days to generate a response – not a good customer experience as you can imagine.

Currently, chatbots are used to understand and interpret different customer needs and respond to them quickly using advanced technology. If you’ve ever opened up Siri on an iPhone and asked ‘what’s the weather looking like today?’, you’ve already interacted with a chatbot.

Now imagine that your online store utilised a chatbot that was able to present your customers with ready-made scripted responses based around self-learning scenarios. This might sound complex, but it could be as simple as a customer asking how much it would cost for one of your products to be shipped to their home address – the chatbot could locate the postcode and calculate the shipping costs in an instant.

Instant messaging is one of the few things that people do more than social networking, so it makes complete sense to try and turn these users into customers. The idea behind a chatbot is to try and support this ‘real-time transaction’ and convert browsers into buyers.

Instant messaging remains one of the few things that people do more than social networking – chatbots are seen as an attempt to blur the lines between the two.

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Out of the box, Magento doesn’t include a chatbot feature. However, there are a number of high quality chatbot extensions that can add one to your store. These generally feature a way of styling the conversation boxes to match the rest of your Magento web design. Just bear in mind that the scope and complexity of the chatbot is entirely dependent on the algorithm it uses so choose wisely.

Voice Search

Whilst this isn’t a new trend by any means, the growth in voice search over the last year has been staggering.

Research conducted in early 2019 showed that 58% of consumers used some form of voice search to find local business information during 2018. A further 27% of those searchers then went on to visit the website of a local business after conducting their voice search.

The bottom line is that if you don’t optimise your store for voice search, your competitors will. Here are some top tips to help get you started:

  • Try to understand what your target customers are searching for, and build the answers into your existing content.
  • Answer any questions clearly and concisely – it’s likely that your customers will be searching on the move.
  • Optimise for long-tail keywords as well as short-tail – voice search allows you to write your content in a little more of a conversational style.

Much like chatbots, Magento 2 doesn’t allow you to add voice search to your site by default. There are again specific Magento extensions that can help you here. Just make sure you take the time to consider your overall SEO strategy and what voice search can bring to the table.

Virtual & Augmented Reality

If you thought chatbots and automation in eCommerce were impressive, wait till you get a load of virtual and augmented reality! This is going to bring product visualisation to the next level.

Ask the everyday consumer why they like shopping on the high street and it’s likely you’ll get the same answer from most of them – you can touch and feel the product in your own hands before buying. This is the biggest advantage a physical store still holds over online retailers.

eCommerce businesses have tried to combat this with videos, gifs and live streams that try to give consumers a really good look at each product. If you can find a way to make your product visualisation that much better than your competitors, you’ll have the edge.

Virtual reality (VR) gives online businesses a way of creating a realistic 3D environment thanks to a mixture of hardware (eg. a headset) and software. This allows the consumer to engage in actions that feel interactive and realistic – if they turn their head, the virtual world around them turns too.

Many people feel that VR belongs in video games or on the big screen, but those are just the most easily recognisable iterations of this technology right now. Experts predict the role of VR in the eCommerce sector will continue to grow and grow as businesses gain more confidence in its uses and advantages over other technologies.

See also: How Augmented Reality Is Changing The Way We See The World

Augmented reality (AR) is actually far simpler to implement than VR and is perfect for businesses selling products that need to be ‘seen’ in a real-life situation, for example big pieces of furniture. It’s very much positioned as a ‘try before you buy’ tool that can help customers make a decision on a product without having to go in store. Have a look at this example from IKEA for a demonstration.

Again with this up-and-coming technology, Magento 2 doesn’t bring any VR or AR functionality to the table straight out of the box. However, if you have the desire and the budget to invest in this kind of technology, Magento’s open source nature makes it the perfect place to do it.

Video Content

As we’ve just covered above, helping online customers to visualise their product more effectively is a great way to increase the likelihood of a sale.

You might be sat there thinking that AR and VR technology is just too expensive and time-consuming to invest in for your online store right now – and that’s where video content comes in. If a product image is worth a thousand words, a product video is worth a million.

Now it’s a little bit tricky to provide the ‘right way’ to make a product video as there isn’t one – you just need to be natural on camera, honest about your product and show some enthusiasm. Here are some other top tips:

  • Rather than simply showcasing your product, try to tell a story with it – this style of content generally resonates better with customers.
  • Keep it short and sweet – 30 seconds or so is usually enough time.
  • Add some humour and keep things lighthearted – a human touch is always best!

The great news about video content is that Magento allows you to upload it to your store in several different ways – you can read more about these in this dedicated blog post provided by Magento themselves.

There’s no right or wrong way to make a product video – you just need to be natural on camera, honest about your product and show some enthusiasm!

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The only other thing to highlight here is that Magento web design integrates videos into your website via the YouTube API. This means that before you start, you’ll need to have all the necessary permissions and copyright to upload the content you want to use. Our advice? Only upload your own content!

Don’t forget to check out the various Magento video optimisation extensions available that can enrich your content further.

Summary

Regardless of your industry or product range, there is at least one trend in this list that you can try to prepare for ahead of time.

In the short term, we would certainly recommend that you invest in mobile optimisation (if you haven’t already!), as well as optimising your existing store for voice search. Also consider utilising a chatbot if you feel that could offer additional value to your customers.

Additionally, video content is already a huge part of the eCommerce puzzle and it’s definitely an area that you can steal a march on your competitors. Give it a go if you feel confident enough to get in front of the camera!

Over the longer term, a progressive online business using Magento should look to draft a plan for both virtual and augmented reality. This technology really does have the potential to become ingrained in the eCommerce world, so getting the foundations in place now could have significant benefits in the coming years.

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