The year of 2017 was a big one for e-commerce. From Amazon's purchase of Whole Foods, to the partnership of Google Home and Walmart to ship items to people via Google Express, to Everlane's decision to open its first brick-and-mortar store, e-commerce has found itself in the midst of some of the newest technology and biggest business, and we don't expect this theme to end in 2018. From the advances in artificial intelligence, to augmented reality, e-commerce is utilizing and being influenced by the most cutting edge technology. So, without further adieu, here are the top trends we expect to see in e-commerce this coming year.
1. Voice Shopping
With the rise of voice-assistant products like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod which is to be released this year, comes a rise of voice shopping. These products increase user engagement, and as they become more commonplace people will become more comfortable with, and reliant on these "personal assistants" to accomplish daily tasks, including shopping. Even though the transition to this form of shopping will probably be a slow one, retailers need to be ready to tap the power of what’s come to be known as “conversational commerce.”
2. Getting Even More Personal
Online retail has always been working to increase personalization and efficiency in showing the right products to the right people at the right time. The key here is data. In 2018 we expect to see more customer data collected than ever before, and increased efficiency in using this data to better personalize the customer's experience. Increased data paired with the use of artificial intelligence can provide more accurate product recommendations, as well as streamline the shopping experience so that customers are not even shown irrelevant products.
3. Augmented Reality
Retailers are making a shift to bring their store to the customer, rather than the other way around. AR has the power to bring products to shoppers anywhere. Devices can superimpose 3D objects in various spaces, giving customers a chance to interact with digital renderings from the comfort of their own homes. This allows people to virtually “try on” clothes, makeup and accessories, or see if a new home product will look good in their house before actually purchasing it. While many of these advancements are already fully underway, we can expect to see this become more mainstream in 2018.
Another use of AR that we may see more of in 2018 is pop-up shops. With augmented reality, retail stores can appear wherever the customers are without any need for a brick and mortar shop.
4. Don't Forget About Email
It's easy to get so caught up in the new technology that you forget about the old, reliable methods. Email still drives more revenue than all social networks combined, and it's been incredibly efficient at driving visitors to a website. It is expected to stay strong through 2018, and smart retailers will work to make email even more efficient by allowing customers to easily make purchases directly from their inbox.
5. Continued Engagement
In 2018, we expect to see e-commerce retailers work even more tirelessly to engage with customers outside of just making sales. It is becoming increasingly important to be a media platform, not just a store. This means creating a community around your business, and having a voice on social media that your customers can relate to. This is vital, because brands who are not constantly engaging with their customers will find it difficult to bring customers back in, and ultimately be lost in the sea of brands in the media.