Thanks to the popularity of the internet, the retail industry has changed dramatically in the past 20 or so years, and even more so in the past 10 thanks to the introduction and widespread adoption of the smartphone.
As such, every new year brings a horde of trends marketers predict will dominate the industry.
For example, some predictions for 2018 were a rise in eCommerce sales due to mCommerce, heightened demand for same-day deliveries, and increased usage of voice search. As it happens to be, online retail statistics from the UK proved these to be true.
As we move closer to the new year, let’s prepare by going over 10 eCommerce retail trends & predictions 2019 is likely to bring.
1. Mobile Will Be Stronger Than Ever
Even though the mobile trend started a couple of years ago, its impact is still seen day in and day out. After all, isn’t it easier to pull out your phone and browse than it is to sit down in front of a computer, especially when you’re out and about?
For this reason, one of the retail industry trends 2018 brought us that will continue to be one of the most prominent retail trends 2019 has in store for us is mobile shopping and mCommerce.
2. Omnichannel Experiences Will Increase
With the rise of mobile came the rise of omnichannel shopping experiences marked by seamless transitions from mobile to desktop, desktop to telephone, telephone to brick and mortar, brick and mortar to mobile, and any variation in between.
In fact, in a study involving 46,000 shoppers, 73% of them used multiple channels to do their shopping, and businesses using four or more digital channels outperform those using single or dual channels by 300%.
At the end of the day, shopping doesn’t necessitate everything being completed at the same time. Sometimes it’s just better and easier to take your time and spread it out between a couple of channels.
3. New Discovery Methods with Emerging Technologies Will Be Used
As fashion retail trends from 2018 have taught us, emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) and visual search are fueling product discovery by introducing new methods of search and visualisation that allow consumers to find and see products in a whole new light.
For instance, AR is helping buyers choose products with more certainty by allowing them to visualise them in a realistic environment, and visual search is helping them find what they’re looking for with more accuracy.
For 2019, it’s clear that more and more brands are going to start delving into these technologies to provide their users with new and improved ways of interacting with them.
4. Experiences Will Be Even More Personal
With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, many brands like Amazon have been delivering personalised experiences to their users, such as offering product recommendations based on their browsing and purchasing behaviour.
Moving into 2019, it seems likely that AI-based tools that enable personalisation are going to be used by all types of businesses, from SMBs to enterprises, with increased frequency.
After all, 43% of consumers prefer companies that personalise their experience, and a larger 48% will even spend more money when their experience is personalised.
One more thing, keep in mind that personalisation doesn’t stop at recommendations; email marketing campaigns and online adverts with personalised offers based on user interest are also becoming vital to improved bottom lines.
5. AI Merchandising Will Be the New Norm
Along similar lines as delivering more personal experiences, there’s been an uptake of brands using AI product merchandising to entice their users to convert, which can be defined as promoting and displaying products by matching them with shoppers who are more likely to find them relevant and complete the purchase.
When you consider that 74% of people hate being shown irrelevant content, it makes sense that displaying products they’re interested in, as opposed to those you yourself want to promote, will become the new norm in 2019.
6. Customer Service Will Be Automated
Another of the retail trends & predictions 2019 is going to bring that’s facilitated by AI is the automation of customer service, and it’s all thanks to chatbots. In fact, it’s predicted that 85% of customer interactions will be handled without the need of a human agent by 2020.
A quick note before moving forward, chatbots are AI-based programs that use machine learning to “talk” with users and learn from use, allowing them to improve over time without the need of being explicitly programmed to do so.
With that in mind, chatbots are being adopted by brand after brand because of their incredible utility. By residing on websites or applications at all times of the day, chatbots are able to provide 24/7 support for users who need some help — all without a human presence.
7. Conversational Commerce Will Be the New Way to Shop
One more retail trend predicted to make a splash in 2019 that’s also enabled by AI and chatbots is conversational commerce.
We just touched on the benefits of pairing a chatbot with your brand for customer service purposes, and doing so for sales purposes has the same impact, albeit with a little extra in the form of conversions. This is because, with the same technology that allows chatbots to help users facing difficulties, they can guide those on the customer journey until checkout.
For example, a chat bubble inquiring if your user needs help finding something can start the conversation, and upon further prompting that discloses more and more about what they’re looking for, the chatbot can eventually recommend a couple of products they’re bound to like.
8. Subscription Services Will Increase in Popularity
The market for subscription services has grown by more than 100% year-over-year in the past five years, with the largest retailers generating almost £2 billion in sales in 2016.
From a brand perspective, bundled items shipped together means less shipping costs and higher order values. From a consumer perspective, the pain of choosing what to get is eliminated, and is replaced by the anticipation of getting something new and interesting from a brand they like.
Putting it all together, 2019 seems prime for a subscription box popularity surge.
9. Same and Next Day Shipping Will Be More Widespread
Spurred on by Amazon and their premium service, Amazon Prime, same day or next day delivery is not only appreciated, but expected by many consumers these days — there’s just something special about browsing for the perfect item online, and then have it delivered within a couple of hours.
And, considering that 72% of shoppers revealed they would actually shop more and spend more if same day delivery was available, it’s not only probable, but also likely that these shipping methods will be adopted by more brands as we move into the new year.
10. Alternate Delivery Methods Will Be Used
Like same-day shipping, alternate delivery methods like drone deliveries, which allow for same-day deliveries, are becoming more popular.
For example, 79% of US consumers said they’re more than willing to request drone delivery if their package could be delivered within an hour, and 73% of survey participants said that they would even pay up to $10 for drone delivery.
Like above, there’s just something special about ordering and receiving everything in the same day.
Let’s Take a Second Look
In case you didn’t notice, the majority of the retail trends and predictions for 2019 we covered today relate to technology.
For example, just as omnichannel shopping experiences and new discovery methods are in direct response to an increase in mobile usage, personalised experiences and chatbots are a response to improvements in AI.
In other words, as new technologies are introduced to the market, they create ripples that become waves that impact how we shop.
Let’s take a second look at what we covered today:
- Mobile Will Be Stronger Than Ever
- Omnichannel Experiences Will Increase
- New Discovery Methods with Emerging Technologies Will Be Used
- Experiences Will Be Even More Personal
- AI Merchandising Will Be the New Norm
- Customer Service Will Be Automated
- Conversational Commerce Will Be the New Way to Shop
- Subscription Services Will Increase in Popularity
- Same and Next Day Shipping Will Be More Widespread
- Alternate Delivery Methods Will Be Used
Best of luck preparing for 2019!