With the eCommerce industry reporting a 23% year-on-year growth, the transformation of the digital retail landscape is expected to grow exponentially. Reports suggest that 67% of Millennials and 56% of Gen Xers prefer to shop online. The industry is also expected to see a number of noteworthy trends in 2018. While voice assistants have already made way, shopping behaviors are likely to undergo a change, allowing a wider scope for retailers to experiment with strategies and offerings.
As you search the web, you will see a plethora of retail and eCommerce predictions for 2018, calling out to you. To help you pick the strongest ones to help frame your retail strategy, we studied the past year’s trends and brought them together with 2018’s most likely trends to pay attention to. We helped you prepare your strategies during this past holiday season, now we have identified some top eCommerce trends for2018, that are not only noteworthy but can potentially influence your new year’s retail and omnichannel retail strategy:
1. Machine Learning and eCommerce to Share an Inseparable Bond
The time is finally here for machine learning and artificial intelligence to join eCommerce, and create compelling experiences for your customers. 2018 is likely to see a boom in eCommerce initiatives powered by machine learning. More and more businesses, especially in the retail industry, will readily invest in artificial intelligence to individualize their customer experience. This will be powered by data analytics and personalization. One of the top picks in this segment is in the form of behavior-based analysis, leading to data-driven optimization for different categories of customers.
2. Voice Search to Alter SEO in eCommerce
You can leverage SEO to enhance your visibility and ranking, as long as a user searches products and services by typing in the keywords. However, the emerging trend of voice searches is going to pose a challenge to SEO. This year, customers will be speaking more to their devices, in order to search for particular products. This change in customers’ preferences will bring a massive shift in the way retailers interact and communicate.
For SEO, the keywords will switch to spoken keywords. This would mean, challenges, costs, and efforts, as well as a significant time investment. The greatest challenge will be providing voice-based product descriptions.
3. Augmented Reality will Redefine Shopping
As the shopping intelligence quotient rises among consumers, 2018 is likely to see them leveraging augmented reality (AR), to visualize products before they hit the “buy” button. From buying small kitchen appliances to sofas, AR is going to transform the way customers evaluate a product’s benefits, before purchasing them online. This trend is expected to pose a dual challenge on the eCommerce players; not only will they have to invest in understanding the AR algorithm, but also offer customers the capability of visualizing the products first, before deciding to make a purchase.
4. Blockchain-Enabled AI to Enhance Customer Service
While many of you might have thought chatbots would be out of the equation now, the AI-based chatbots are likely to leave you pleasantly surprised. Powered by AI and natural language processing (NLP), the chatty chatbots are likely to resurface and compel businesses to invest in them for better customer engagement. These chatbots will turn out to be highly promising in the customer-facing segment, especially retail. The key reason for this acceptance will be the automation in chatbot messaging and management.
5. Subscription-Based Models will Become a Mainstream Retail Component
This year we will see many retailers including subscription-based models as part of their key offerings. This may lead to a mindset shift. More and more brands are going to embrace the subscription boxes, seeing the demand grow as 2018 progresses. Experts suggest the model will also impact traditional eCommerce trends models for many retailers. It will pick up pace as some industry leaders will show examples of successful adoption of the subscription models.
6. Photo Shopping to Pre-Empt Keyword Product Search
A great consumer experience has customer convenience at its core. Any feature that reduces the efforts for a customer, will enhance their engagement. Photo search is one such feature and is expected to gain massive popularity among consumers. This may pre-empt the trend of voice searches across eCommerce channels. Photo-based searches are already in place, and some leading brands like Amazon and BigBasket are already using them. In 2018, this practice is likely to become more mainstream.
The number of customers using image-based searches will go up exponentially in 2018. In fact, image and voice-activated searches may make up 50 percent of all searches by 2020, say some researchers.
7. Same Day Delivery will Delight Customers
Perfecting the last mile delivery is one of the most crucial aspects of eCommerce. You will agree with us once you read one of our previous posts: Perfecting Last-Mile Delivery Process in eCommerce Logistics. As we go on to understand the vitality of logistics and delivery experiences, the concept of same-day delivery is something to take note of. The feature comes with a promise to enhance the customer experience for eCommerce merchants manifolds. Imagine the delight of a user who orders a product and receives it the same day. This is as good as “buying it now”. This year, same-day delivery is expected to emerge as one of the favorite features in online shopping. It will boost conversions for retailers on the other hand.
This insight roundup gives you a great overview of the shifting sands of the retail landscape. Both brands and customers are well-advised to take a long, hard look at the future of retail if they hope to compete in the increasingly crowded retail sector. The times are changing; nowhere is this more evident than in the retail industry.
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