Since its inception back in the 1990s, eCommerce has come a long way. From humble beginnings during the dot-com boom (and bust) right through to the rise of SEO and more recently social media, eCommerce has had quite the ride.
As an industry, things are still in their infancy – there is plenty of room to grow. We are in the midst of sweeping changes across the web, most notably in the way our personal data is handled and how individuals are tracked when they log on. There are also changes affecting the infrastructure of running an eCommerce store including different platforms becoming available, faster and more reliable shipping as well as more personalised customer service on offer.
When change takes hold of an industry like eCommerce, things evolve quickly and as a seller, you need to be in a position to react accordingly.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at 5 of the hottest trends currently transforming the digital marketplace right now:
1 – Chatbots
Consumers nowadays want to be able to shop away from the pressures of the high-street store sales assistant; they don’t want to be hassled when browsing or feel hesitant when they need to ask questions.
That’s why more and more consumers are choosing to shop online, and with that comes the need for a new method of brand interaction. The days of picking up the telephone or sending an email appear to be behind us as potential customers now prefer to engage via text message, instant messaging apps and live chat. For eCommerce as a whole, that means chatbots.
In a way that only chatbots can, consumers can ask questions directly to a brand and receive an instant response. This allows them to get the information they need much faster, especially as chatbots can be programmed with set answers to the most commonly asked questions. In recent years, the growth in the development of AI has seen chatbots move to a whole new level whereby they can answer more detailed queries and ‘learn’ from the customers’ response.
Research conducted by Ubisend in 2017 found that 35% of online consumers want more chatbots, with a further 69% of those respondents expressing that they feel chatbots are beneficial because of their instant response.
Brands are responding to this demand already. Global research firm Gartner estimates that by 2020, 85% of all brand interactions involving a customer query will be solved without speaking to a human.
By 2020, 85% of all brand interactions involving a customer query will be solved without speaking to a human.Tweet this now
If you’re sat there thinking ‘how on earth am I ever going to get a chatbot on my store?’, don’t panic. In years gone by, brands at the forefront of this trend had to develop their own chatbot from scratch, but there are now a wide variety of different options for companies that can’t make that kind of investment.
2 – Movement Away From Amazon
The market share Amazon holds right now is staggering, making up 49.1% of all online retail spending in the United States. By the end of 2018, it’s estimated that they will have earnt $258billion which is equivalent to 5% of all global retail sales.
Despite this dominant performance, it’s fair to say there are more options than ever before for third-party sellers and manufacturers.
Over 50% of the units sold on Amazon are from marketplace sellers, showing their importance within this lofty position. Platforms like ChannelApe are now moving to compete with Amazon by handling drop shipping and managing catalogues across multiple marketplaces like eBay, Target, Jet and Amazon itself.
Half of Amazon’s marketplace sellers are exclusive to the platform, but a third plan to expand to other sellers in 2018. Sellers are also finding success with their own individual sites, with 70% earning the majority of their revenue from their own store – in contrast, only 6.2% of sales came via Amazon.
3 – eCommerce Search Engines
It’s common for eCommerce stores to practise SEO in a bid to outrank their competition, but there has been a shift in their thinking in recent years. eCommerce sites must now consider themselves as search engines – 49% of online shoppers will turn to Amazon to research a product before heading off to find the best possible price via Google or other search engines.
According to a study by research company Nielsen, eCommerce sites have worked tirelessly to improve their search capabilities within their store – search success rates back in 2000 were just 64%, whereas they now stand at 92% in 2017.
On-site search success rates back in 2000 were just 64% – as of 2017, they now stand at an impressive 92%.Tweet this now
The biggest change here is courtesy of search algorithms within sites that once required consumers to use specific industry language rather than more natural search terms. There were also hardcoded system failings that didn’t automatically insert stop words like ‘and’ and ‘or’ into searches, for example, causing the site to deliver an inaccurate result and frustrate the consumer.
Nowadays, eCommerce stores offer consumers the option to filter their search results by a range of categories including price, availability, review score and more. It’s now common for users to abandon a purchase if they’re unable to refine their search results or the filtering system isn’t naturally intuitive.
eCommerce stores that fail to meet the minimum standards consumers have now come to expect will see engagement rates plummet and sales stagnate.
4 – International Market Growth
Despite global unrest on a political level, the World Trade Organisation estimated that 2018 would see international trade grow by 4.4% with eCommerce listed as one of the fastest growing retail channels through to 2022.
With this level of growth in mind, it’s no surprise to see that over half of all urban Chinese citizens have ordered from an overseas market (89% of them choosing to deal with the US) in the last year. Their reasoning? Quality and authenticity were the two key factors highlighted.
There was also further research from Nielsen that suggested 57% and therefore the majority of shoppers globally had gone abroad to secure the product of their choice – the only continent where this wasn’t true was North America where the figure dropped to 45.5%.
As more and more money appears to open up on the international marketplace, brands will be encouraged to broaden their horizons and enter the global market, especially with the focus on emerging countries like Brazil, Turkey, Russia, India and the Netherlands. Investment now in language conversion, shipping optimisation and payment security will pay huge dividends in the long run.
5 – Shopping Through Voice
20% of adults now utilise a speaking home device like Amazon Echo or Google Home. Out of this group, over a third have ordered groceries or toiletries using just their voice with a further quarter choosing to do this regularly.
This is certainly an emerging trend that is only going to gather pace. By 2020, Gartner estimates that 20% of all web browsing will be done without a screen. For sellers, this means that becoming available on platforms like Amazon Prime and Google Express will grow in importance. If you can market your brand successfully as a unique proposition outside of these platforms, you should be able to position your organisation effectively within voice-activated marketplaces.
The eCommerce landscape is growing rapidly and changing dramatically with every passing year. To succeed, your business needs to react quickly to the marketplace evolution and keep your eyes firmly fixed on the future.
Add in a chatbot, move into international markets, spread your wings outside of Amazon, adapt to voice and keep optimising that on-site search to make sure you stay ahead of the competition.