Here are the 3 e-commerce trends we see coming down the pipe that you need to be aware of to stay ahead in the new year… and one you can probably put on the back burner.
1. Omni-channel continues
The first trend we predict is more of a continuation than a pivot. We predict that omnichannel experiences will continue to grow in importance beyond where they are now.
Consider this. For all our focus on e-commerce, the 2018 Omnichannel Buying Report found that 87% of people still shop offline, 69% spend their discretionary dollars in-store, and 56% of Gen Z spend in-store.
Basically, brick and mortars aren’t exactly going anywhere. So where’s the opportunity?
We think that brands who can bridge the gap effectively between in-store and online experiences will be the most successful. In-store technology like geo-fencing, targeted promotions and in-store wifi/apps will bridge the gap from the reality side.
For the online side, we think that brands who can meet shoppers where they are with consistent, personalized experiences wherever they are (specifically social media, native selling, branded sites, and Amazon) stand to be the most successful.
2. Better Packaging
The rise of dropshipping — online brands that hold no inventory and act as the middleman between manufacturers and consumers, orchestrating the transaction to ship direct to consumers from the factory — saw prices for everyday goods plummet.
Suddenly, brands were competing on price far more than ever before. But dropshipping, while it’s not going anywhere, is beginning to deflate a bit. Too many horror stories about terrible products, poor customer experience, and months-long delays had taken the sheen off a men’s watch for just $19.99. And that’s all on top of the spread of terrible packaging. Products arriving in rubbish bags, unmarked boxes, or badly-sealed envelopes are common, and it’s starting to impact the bottom line.
68% of customers feel that good packaging makes a product feel more upscale, which means brands can charge more.
If the customer experience is the heart of your organization, you have to appreciate the fact that packaging plays a role.
And we think brands will get that message loud and clear in 2019. Already, brands like Quip and Dollar Shave Club are upping their packaging experience — and we think that trend is only going to continue.
3. Cross-Platform Analytics
As ever, hot on the heels of an omnichannel experience is the question: “How are we going to measure this?” We think there are two things to be aware of in 2019.
First, brands will get much better at measuring and accurately attributing the omnichannel experience; and second, they’ll be willing to spend a lot more to do it.
The challenge is, businesses are focused on building multi-channel, multi-touch experiences for their customers to meet them where they are, but struggle to translate each of those channels into an accurate reflection of revenue. They know that their online/offline omnichannel experience drives an increase in sales, but they don’t know where they’re getting the biggest impact from, and they don’t know what channels are working and which ones aren’t.
The explosion of MarTech over the last 10 years has helped, but bridging online/offline metrics is, we think, going to drive a big increase in analytics investment in an effort to close the feedback look and create a measurable omnichannel experience for the brand that matches the one they’ve created for the customer.
4. VR and AR will Continue to Advance …
Any discussions of trends in 2019 are lost without mentioning virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR). But we don’t think that it’s the game-changer for e-commerce brands that it promises to be.
First, there have been e-commerce inroads throughout 2018. IKEA and Houzz, in particular, have generated a fair amount of buzz, since they let people “try” products in their house before they buy. However, we think that throughout 2019, those examples will continue to be outliers. For the most part, we think that AR/VR continue to be a pipe-dream for e-commerce brands for a couple of reasons.
First, VR. Frankly, the market penetration of the hardware isn’t deep enough to be relevant yet. 2018 saw ~5 million VR headsets sold globally. Unless you’re selling to a demographic that enormously over-indexes for VR headsets (e.g. VR gaming enthusiasts), then the market just isn’t there for most brands to invest.
Second, AR. AR stands a better chance of making inroads that VR, and we think that there will be some enterprising brands who take advantage, especially in the B2B world. But for most organizations, there’s simply lower hanging fruit to drive e-commerce.
The world of e-commerce is constantly shifting as new technology pushes rising customer expectations. Clever marketers and brands will take advantage, offering more tailored, more consistent, better-packaged experiences for their customers. We are excited for better experiences, better technology, and creative and innovative solutions we haven’t even dreamed up yet. We think 2019 is going to be a good year for e-commerce, and we can’t wait to get started.