We have entered into the second quarter of 2019, and all the e-commerce pundits are ready with crystal balls to determine the future of digital commerce for the coming five years.
The way we have seen the flurry of overwhelming trends every year, it's difficult to pinpoint the sustenance of a particular trend for another five year— maybe because we have seen the trends performing for tens of years and we have also observed them perishing overnight despite a promising start
Perhaps, it's right time we define trends correctly rather than merely linking them to digital marketing metrics such as click-through rates, bounce rates, time to purchase, conversion rate, revenues, etc.
So, what is the definition of a trend?
Trends are something which either eases your or customer's job— maybe not yours.
Before the customer help desk became a fad for brick and mortar businesses, it was too severe a wound for people to ask for the service. The companies would consider "customer care" an overhead cost and a painful setup; however, the first customer help desk established credibility and trust in the hearts of the customers, and it was a kind of "trending strategy in the market."
Similarly, Henry Fonda applied a "weekend trend— the added holidays on Saturday" to trigger the "entourage effect" in the psychs of the employees. The trend did extract their efficiency which, in a dominos effect, led to better production.
Akin to this, a lot of trends are set to revolutionize the digital commerce irrespective of whether they push the added comforting cushion for the customers or the developers of the e-commerce, and if you can't wait to find them out— let's get started.
The power of headless e-commerce— watch out all the e-retailers.
The way the user interacts and consumes the e-commerce content has evolved over the years.
Amazon allows voice searches, dash buttons, progressive web applications, and other in-store features and interface, and we better call them the interactive front end.
Since giants are working hard for the front-end interactive touchpoints; the small retailers are scratching their heads pondering how can they move ahead without having to make their own PWAs, IoT devices, etc.
The role of headless e-commerce: Headless e-commerce chips in as a trending savior which enables the small e-commerce owners to popularize their touchpoints and disseminate their content without needing to build back-end solutions from scratch.
As the front-end and the back-end are loosely coupled, you can manage content without the front-end delivery layer.
In the traditional (head) e-commerce, you need a predefined storefront to feed data in the front-end.
What does this trend mean for you: There's no design constraint, you don't have to squander your time in editing the database, and you can manage both the ends separately and easily.
What does this trend mean for your customer: They can enjoy endless customization, thereby making their e-commerce experience a smarter one.
The voice of voice assistants: you can't turn deaf.
We are trying to make interfaces as humane as possible, and it stands true for the e-commerce business as well.
What would draw your attention— a machine which operates on your traditional searches (where you have to input texts) or the ones which trigger on your voice search?
The machine which works on your voice command gives more of a human and immersive feeling, and it has girded up the loins to mark changes in the way search and purchase get done.
The role of voice assistant: The voice assistants such as Ok Google, Alexa, and Siri have loomed out to convert a tedious shopping experience into an interesting one.
It's like the sales executive which filters the optimal product for the customers, takes the orders, and terminates the purchase.
One of the recent reviews suggests that voice shopping may hit 40 billion caps by 2022.
As the trend focuses more on improving the customer shopping experience, it has a lot of hidden advantages.
What does this trend mean for you: You can keep a record of keywords and curate the products based on the search result, analyze the voice through voice analytics to target user intent, direct it for local SEO strategies, strategizing and optimizing around the on-site content.
What does this trend mean for your customer: The sales funnel simplifies, the shopping-time reduces, and the entire process seems more realistic.
The reality of artificial intelligence: personalizing e-commerce solutions.
Although we call e-commerce a digital-experience, there's a lot of staticity into it— thanks to humans and inefficient codes.
And with such static-atmosphere, we fail to understand our customers, let go off the new leads, and compromise with the customer experience.
We have to look for the dynamic ways for understanding our user behavior so that we can cater to the items what they didn't know if they wanted.
With Artificial intelligence, we are looking to arm e-commerce in and out with reliable and effective trend.
The role of artificial intelligence: You can go ahead and cheers to one of the mind-boggling statistics revealed by the business insider regarding artificial intelligence.
The survey states that by 2020, more than 85% of customer-interaction will be conducted by AI.
It's probably the reason why Google and Amazon are spending billions on it without giving a second thought.
Artificial intelligence is a process when you make the machine learn the patterns and repetitive human behavior.
If you adopt AI early for your e-commerce business, then you can combine digital competence with enterprising moves to have fantastic profit margins and massive lead in comparison to your competitors.
What does this trend mean for you: You can retarget potential customers by collecting the vital behaviors, use the timely intelligence to generate new leads, develop an efficient sale process, and endless use cases.
What does this trend mean for your customer: They will enjoy personalized offers, schemes, giveaways, etc. across multiple channels; better customer service with AI chatbots; take delight in optimal recommendations, etc.
Moving at Hare's pace with Single-Tag UI Software: The fastest developing mode.
Until now, as an e-commerce owner, we have resorted to open software— the software platform which integrates multiple modules and systems into one single user-experience.
Due to this, if you want to make a minor change in the front-end, you will have to modify the codes for weeks which isn't a smart thing to do.
Furthermore, all the e-commerce companies don't want to get a headache which springs out of the messy integration of different systems.
They crave for something which works as a unified system, on the whole, thereby helping to manage the business with ease.
Hence, we are in dire need of a trend where we are good to go in quick time without having to get imprisoned in code blocks.
The role of Single Stack Software: Single stack software refers to the podium which has all the features in a single system, and the sole provider takes care of the store.
Escorted by Single tag-UI software, you can change and customize the front-end by adding or modifying one line of the script.
Adding to the top of that, if you don't want development process to make a hole in your pocket, Single-Tag UI is an ideal solution which confirms a great e-commerce front-end in no time.
Hence, the software which runs on Single-tag UI is in a fit state to develop e-commerce portals at a snap of fingers.
What does this trend mean for you: If you are drawn because your developers have bottlenecked the job, the results aren't tangible to move ahead with the store, e-commerce agencies are procrastinating in submitting solid developing and testing ideas, and most important of all, you want to tame your store like a pet— Single-tag UI software helps you in all with cost-effective ways without leading to IT queues.
What does this trend mean for your customer: You can optimally use the development time in marketing, building customer engagement points, and offering a personalized store for probable conversion.
Optimizing the eCommerce: a pathbreaking trend.
Here's an interesting story— "Once the e-commerce team decided to sprinkle new life into it. Their action plan was to redesign the store so that their conversion rate skyrockets. They invested three months & $100,000 in modifying the store-view and clothing it in a completely new dress and ambiance. 6 months after the redesigning, the conversion rate dipped by 5%, and the idea went down like a lead balloon."
The story of redesigning hasn't been a successful campaign for a lot of companies, and it makes e-commerce directors to "doublethink" whether they should go for it with the potential risk of shrinking conversion rate despite spending the boatload of green bucks.
Hence, a lot of e-commerce experts emphasize the idea that "if you are building e-commerce, make it almost perfect enough to not invite changes at least in the front end."
The upper piece of advice is the holy grail for designing because once the users are accustomed to the front-view of the store, you shouldn't push them to re-learn the navigations in the page ambience.
So, what's the way to bring in better development without bringing significant changes in the store?
Well, you'd love to discover what is E-commerce optimization.
The role of E-commerce optimization: While a great many e-commerce profiles change their designs, Amazon loves sticking to the same layout.
Amazon knows that the sluggish IT problems can be solved with optimizing the store rather than coughing out money recklessly on redesigning the front-view.
It looks almost the same as what it looked a decade back, thereby implying that— e-commerce optimization is way more vital than re-writing the new plot for the design.
Here's a quick example of product optimization by Amazon.
"Amazon knew that selling a single product on a product page was difficult, so it placed two products side by side— one at the higher rate (premium item) and the other one at a cheaper rate (general item). Within a few hours, the sale of the general item went moons and mars."
What does this trend mean for you: You can develop high-converting product pages, optimize the website and interface at a mobile touchpoint, upsell products, entice purchase with flash sales, reach new customers, etc.
What does this trend mean for your customer: The customers have the neater idea of products, they witness optimized content which helps them to make efficient and informed purchase decision.
The mesmerizing Virtual reality: see it yourself.
If you ask me about the biggest drawback of the e-commerce store, I will place "lack of reality" at the top of the pile.
Prolly, it's the reason why brick and mortar business sales are 9 to 10 times bigger than online retail sales.
One of the notable surveys demonstrates that for every 100$ retail sale, e-commerce consumes only 14 to 17% of the sale pie-chart.
In a broader sense, lack of reality and immersive feel make traditional businesses dominate e-commerce by 20 trillion dollars.
Therefore, we need a trend which stimulates our senses as much as traditional stores do.
And with the much-needed requirement, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality come into the limelight.
The role of AR and VR: Hat tip to AR and VR— they have added a high dimension to the way we play games, and thanks to Samsung and Oculus for contributing to some of the captivating gaming-scenes across the globe.
However, with AR and VR, you can leap skies and spaces for your e-commerce store.
They create a stimulating environment where the user feels immersive purchase experience.
It builds a virtual ecosystem where users get to explore these as virtual showrooms, and over the top of that, they can virtually visualize all the in-store products as if they were in an orthodox retail shop.
With all the virtualizations and holograms, a personal relationship will develop between the user and your store.
What does this trend mean for you: You can give your customers their version of stores based on their preferences, shopping experience and history, and intent and behavior.
What does the trend mean for your customer: It's a convenient way to convert virtual stores into almost-real stores which incites them to keep coming back to the store.
The rarity of Beacon Technology: As good as a lighthouse.
We have had enough of developing and customer-experience trends, let's focus on one of the unique marketing trends which will expand your digital reach, and it's Beacon Technology.
It's relatively a new e-commerce trend, and we don't have many use-cases linked with it; however, amidst intense competition aiming to upsize the performance gap; using it may keep us a yardstick ahead of our contemporaries.
The role of Beacon Technology: Beacon Technology is like a lighthouse. As lighthouse transmits light to update the captains about the probable adversaries and navigating them to the safer areas; Beacon technology uses Bluetooth Low Energy signals which are equipped either around the digital screens, near the hoardings, traffic signals, shopping malls, and physically anywhere you want.
These beacon transmitters forward notifications and marketing messages to the Bluetooth devices in its proximity range which eventually generates buying urge in the customers.
The trend is slow to pick; howbeit, it's expected to generate massive leads if the implementation goes right.
The great e-commerce giant— Amazon uses this technology to send warm and welcome message which drive them to download the application, to display particular items and advertisement regarding the products, waking up the apps which users download but don't use them frequently, and laying the bridge between the various shopping channels to boost omnichannel selling.
Similarly, companies like Walmart who is sailing on retail and e-commerce boats uses Beacon technology as per the requirements. It compels the users to download the application, learn more about the customer behavior like footfall pattern so that they can improve the retail in-store experience, waking up the sleeping app, and displaying merchandise on the online platform when the in-store merchandise has stocked-out.
What does the trend mean for you: It is potentially the game-changing trend with the way users interact with your interfaces even when they are out for movies, date, or sports.
What does the trend mean for your customer: The way push notification has changed the semantics of e-commerce sales, Beacon technology will help the users to relate with the most optimized content.
The antics of Visual Search: As trailblazing as voice.
It's frustrating when you find your neighbour wearing a new flip flop, and you don't have the courage to ask the name of the brand.
Moreover, you have no clue where to get them.
So, you scroll through thousands of flip-flops on the online store only to realize that you have wasted one good hour.
Let's not blame you because the way e-commerce allows its customers to search; even if you hunt it for a good one year, it won't be enough for you.
Whatever the case is— it's good news that the way users have searched on e-commerce portals has changed over-the-years.
Earlier, it was a type of specific syntax which later evolved into text searching.
Further, with the accouchement of smartphones, voice and visual searches have reduced several complexities encircling basic search methods.
The role of visual search: Visual search assists a customer in identifying and locating the products just by snapping the pictures.
With the change in kind of search style, the users feel intrigued and curious to discover popular products around them.
It's a desire to learn about new items which are driving them for the specific search style.
In 2014, Alibaba launched its first Visual Search e-commerce which permitted the users to upload images and expect the similar kind of products (the matching products).
The given search style obliterates the need for typing a specific keyword, searching through name, brand, color, or any other attribute.
Since image recognition market is all geared up to grow by 25.65 billion dollars, image or visual search in e-commerce will turn ubiquitous in the upcoming future.
What does the trend mean for you: As Google returns visual images for the 19% of the queries, gathering a lot of pictures will assist you in building an image-pool which can later be used for SEO visibility. Also, with direct image search, you will have a clearer idea about what the user wants. It will help you in reflecting essential related items for up-selling and cross-selling.
What does the trend mean for your customer: As searches will be more accessible, the users will exactly know what they want. Spending hours on the product page doesn't guarantee conversion; however with visual search, the users will spend less time searching the products, but more importantly, they will reach the tip of the sales funnel.
Taking baby-steps with micro-moment marketing: Big as other marketing techniques.
If you are amid thousands of e-commerce competitors and believe that there's no way you could communicate with your customers as fast as your competitors do— maybe you need micro-moment marketing trend.
Throughout your e-commerce journey, you will get tiny instances which, if you want, can be converted into potential sales.
These tiny instances where you get sales out of the unthinkable, of the thin air, are termed as micro-moments.
The role of Micro-moments marketing: Micro-moment marketing is capitalizing on the slightest of buying intent into sales.
It all started with the surge in the use of smartphones when users began to rely on them for possibly every kind of assistance.
That's why 27% of the e-commerce sales have come through mobile phones and is expected to reach new levels in 5 years down the lane.
For example, if a user searches "Geekthink watches in Singapore," it's the micro-moment which you have to address.
This tiny moment could be one of the game-changing moments for you, especially when you have got Geekthink watches in your store, and you are in Singapore.
Your role is to identify these micro-moments through analytics and determine the micro-points where your brand can cater the services when customers need them.
Generally, your customers begin with these four micro-moments— I want to know, I want to go, I want to buy, I want to do.
If he says that "I want to buy Geekthink watches," you should use content marketing to connect with him.
Maybe the search should take him to the blog which describes the watch and your partnership with the makers, or perhaps he should know that you have arranged free giveaways if he participates in a quiz.
It's all about reaping the moment and providing the ideal solution for capturing the audience.
What does the trend mean for you: Analyzing micro-moments and catering solutions based on that keep you on your toe. With it, you get a detailed insight into how users behave and help you get in connection with the potential users through the most preferred channel, i.e., their smartphones.
What does the trend mean for your customer: It ensures rapid services even before "they can say knife."
The final call
Whatever you do with the e-commerce is a shade of trend because the ultimate objective of doing it is to make things easier for your customers and at last deep down for yourself.
Each trend you follow, you make it easier for the customers to cross the borders of touchpoints, thereby living up to the expectations of them.
Here's my two-bit— "Instead of rummaging what digital commerce would look after five years from now, look through what it is at the moment, and have reasons to improve them turn by turn."
So, what's your favorite e-commerce trend? Which e-commerce future trend will make far-reaching changes in the way users perceive e-commerce and experience related to it?