18 eCommerce Trends To Watch For In 2018

18 eCommerce Trends To Watch For In 2018

Monitoring eCommerce trends shouldn’t just be a hobby. Each trend needs to be analyzed and adopted in due course if it’s truly going to drive your eCommerce brand forward — otherwise, you run the serious risk of falling drastically behind your competition.

As we move into 2018, here are eighteen eCommerce trends to keep tabs on in 2018 and beyond.

 

[eCommerce Trend #1] Retail Will Either Evolve Or Continue To Die

eCommerce trends: Toys R Us Bankrupt
(Source)

Retail is dying a slow death, simply because it’s refusing to evolve at the rate required. When your consumer only engages at a transaction level and it’s all about discounting and price then your business is primed for a takeover by the larger online players.

What To Do:

If you’re in the retail world, take steps to diversify your customer touchpoints, innovate both online and inside your physical store to retain customer loyalty — despite the might of Amazon. Speaking of which, here’s how you could compete with Amazon.

 

[eCommerce Trend #2] Consumers Will Drive Retail Innovation

When you know what your consumers think of you, innovation becomes easier. So expect to see brands and consumers get even closer in 2018. Kyösti Pennanen’s eBook, ‘The Initial Stages of Consumer Trust Building in E-commerce’ does a good job of explaining how and why consumers who understand the brand’s products and want to be involved in all aspects of the brand.

What To Do:

Focus on amplifying and paying attention to your customer’s voice. Take feedback often, offer up surveys and implement their ideas.

 

[eCommerce Trend #3] Chatbots Will Become A Standard Part of The eCommerce Toolkit

eCommerce trends: Pizza Hut FB Messenger Chatbot
(Who wants a pizza now? | Source)

Chatbots are changing the eCommerce consumer experience for the better, and that will only continue in 2018. They remove a heap of friction from the average customer journey, which is why 48 percent of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other mean of contact according to Hubspot, and 35 percent of consumers want to see more companies using chatbots according to Ubisend.

What To Do:

If you haven’t already, now is a good time to invest in a chatbot builder or an agency that can help you construct a bespoke chatbot to drive engagement, sales, and better customer support.

 

[eCommerce Trend #4] Manufacturers Will Engage Directly With Consumers

eCommerce Trends: Direct to consumer - Caspter

The Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) trend will continue in 2018 and beyond. Manufacturers like Unilever and Casper have already started taking advantage of digital experience platforms (DXP), social media, and general online marketing to reach their customers directly, leaving brands in the cold.

What To Do:

If you’re a manufacturer, the road to selling directly to consumers is now shorter and more accessible than ever before. All you need to do is find the right digital experience platform — ideally as SaaS and decoupled one — and you’ve got every tool you’ll ever need.

 

[eCommerce Trend #5] Smart Home Assistants & Voice Recognition Systems Will Emerge As A New eCommerce Battleground

eCommerce trends: eBay and Google Home
(Source)

According to eMarketer, in 2017, 35.6 million Americans used a voice-activated device at least once per month – a 128.9 percent over 2016. And if you think 2018 will bring anything but growth to that market, you need to think again.

Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s Homepod will drive the industry forward, leaving eCommerce brands with the task of moving into those new channels with voice-savvy customer experiences.

What To Do:

Launching an Alexa Skill is currently the easiest (and best) way into the smart home assistant market. A headless or decoupled digital experience platform will help you manage that new channel and any future channels that emerge.

 

[eCommerce Trend #6] SaaS eCommerce Platforms Will Continue Being First Choice Growth-Conscious Brands

SaaS eCommerce platforms bring speed and stability like no on-premise system ever could. SaaS eCommerce brands will continue to hone their products and add new features to keep their customers at the cutting edge of sales and marketing.

What To Do:

If you aren’t already using a SaaS eCommerce platform, now would be a good time to make the move. New channels are emerging, the landscape is changing and so the benefits of a SaaS eCommerce model have never been more alluring.

 

[eCommerce Trend #7] Machine Learning and AI-Assisted eCommerce Will Smooth Out Sales Funnels

Artificial intelligence will keep reducing friction in the buying process in 2018. AI-powered platforms will also start providing more targeted, personalized experiences and marketing campaigns which will drive sales online.

What To Do:

AI-based eCommerce is still in its infancy, but now is the time to familiarize yourself with the benefits of incorporating AI into your brand via chatbots and personalization campaigns.

 

[eCommerce Trend #8] Analytics Platforms Will Continue To Evolve

eCommerce trends: New Facebook Analytics
(Source)

As new channels emerge, both new and existing analytics platforms need to be there to provide the data. Plus, in 2018, analytics platforms may move past marketing into helping with improving product development, pricing, returns.

What To Do:

If you’re still using Google Analytics alone, it may be time to upgrade and get data from other channels, as well as wider data pertaining directly to your sales funnels. After all, data feeds innovation.

 

[eCommerce Trend #9] Amazon Business Will Keep Winning

Amazon Business, the B2B marketplace where Amazon combines more than 30,000 sellers (not to mention itself), had $1 billion in sales in its first year and is growing 20% every month. In 2018, you can expect them to keep winning.

What To Do:

Run and hide! Only kidding — there are plenty of ways to survive in the Amazon-dominated eCommerce world. That includes going niche, building your own data sets and working on providing a truly unique shopping experience.

 

[eCommerce Trend #10] B2B eCommerce Growth Will Accelerate

As margins are squeezed in the B2B space, digital channels will continue to open new markets and reduce the friction in reaching target customers.

In fact, according to Forbes, Forrester estimates that B2B eCommerce will top $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1 percent of all B2B sales in the US by 2020.

What To Do:

In that same article, Gartner also forecasted that by 2018, 40 percent of B2B digital commerce sites will use price optimization algorithms to deliver product pricing dynamically. If you aren’t already doing that, your next step is clear.

 

[eCommerce Trend #11] Death of the Middleman

As brands figure out ways to reach their end consumer directly, the middleman will feel the pinch. The supply chain will most likely cease to exist as manufacturers find ways to engage directly, improving margins and getting closer to the consumer.

What To Do:

If you’re a middleman, it may be time to pivot out of the brokerage game, and into the sales and marketing consulting space — because your clients are going directly to market whether you like it or not.

 

[eCommerce Trend #12] Mobile Payments Will Increase

eCommerce trends: AfterPay in-store payment
(Source)

Payment companies will standardize the approach to payments making the buying process simpler quicker and more secure. The stats show that the global mobile payment revenue from 2015 to 2019 will shoot up from $450 billion to an estimated $1 trillion+ in 2019.

What To Do:

Evaluate your payment gateways — are you ready to accept mobile payments in-store and online? If not, you know what to do.

 

[eCommerce Trend #13] Expect Even More Subscription Boxes

eCommerce trends: Subscription boxes company such as Blue Apron
(Source)

The subscription box market has exploded in recent years, with subscription box SaaS companies sprouting up to facilitate the boom. In 2018, you can expect big players like Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club to make big moves, as traffic to subscription service sites in January rose 18 percent, according to Hitwise. Though that’s a healthy growth, it’s well off the 56% gain registered a year earlier.

What To Do:

If subscription-based eCommerce makes sense for your brand, you could dabble in the practice by launching a subscription box that features cool add-ons or extra from your existing catalog.

 

[eCommerce Trend #14] Brands Will Unite To Create Larger Marketplaces

Combating the Amazon juggernaut will see competitors and complementary product players work together to create industry-specific marketplaces with access to deep product inventories.

What To Do:

If you don’t see this kind of collaboration in your own industry, perhaps you should be the instigator? But tread carefully, you’re still dealing with competitors.

 

[eCommerce Trend #15] Influencer Marketing Will Keep Driving Sales

eCommerce trends: micro influencers by Stanley PMI

Influencers aren’t just D-list celebrities, they have real, tangible influence. 70 percent of millennial consumers are influenced by the recommendations of their peers in buying decisions, according to an influencer marketing survey conducted by Collective Bias. The same survey revealed that 30 percent of consumers are more likely to buy a product recommended by a non-celebrity blogger.

What To Do:

Influencer marketing is still underpriced, and if you can find influencers in your niche on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, you would be wise to invest steadily, responsibly, yet heavily.

 

[eCommerce Trend #16] Greater Adoption of Digital-First Expansion Strategies

Brand growth will be driven by digital-first strategies in 2018, supported by data and analytics. Brands will use digital assets to open new markets, drive focused online campaigns and find consumer cohorts that then drive bricks and mortar strategies.

What To Do:

If digital isn’t your main concern going into 2018, something is very wrong. Offline marketplaces are becoming increasingly dangerous hunting grounds, while new digital channels are giving brands the opportunity to disrupt. If you aren’t already digital-first, change your strategy.

 

[eCommerce Trend #17] Fulfillment Comes To The Share Economy

eCommerce trends: Uber for fulsillment
(Can someone create the Uber for fulfillment? | Source)

Here’s me truly shooting from the hip — but a gut feeling is a gut feeling. Someone is very likely to launch a shared fulfillment service in 2018, like Instacart for enterprise brands, that will disrupt the 3rd party logistics world and improve the delivery of products to the home.

What To Do:

Either wait for that service to arise and take advantage, or be the one who goes forth and makes it happen. Either way, it’s good news for online retailers and bad news for delivery and courier companies.

 

[eCommerce Trend #18] Blockchain-Enabled eCommerce Will Become A Thing

The concept of blockchain is truly revolutionary, and it will almost certainly impact the eCommerce world in 2018.

I’m not talking about an eCommerce store that accepts Bitcoin — I’m talking about an eCommerce platform (or chain of platforms) that work based on the blockchain system, taking security and speed in the world of eCommerce to a whole new level as middlemen are pushed out, and blockchain principals are drafted in.

What To Do:

For the average retailer, this trend is a waiting game. As blockchain principles become more widely accepted and understood, we should see them seep into the eCommerce world — potentially via totally new platforms. Until then, just keep tabs.

 

Over To You

What do you think 2018 will bring to the eCommerce world? Let us know about your gut feelings in the comments below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sam Saltis

Sam Saltis

An entrepreneur at heart with over 20+ years of experience in building internet software, growing online companies and managing product development.

Loves all things SaaS, technology, and startups.

You can find him feeding his beloved fish when he's back in Australia.

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