eCommerce has come a long way from where it started. Experts opine that in 2018, eCommerce is set to get smarter and more powerful than ever before as new and existing companies devise innovative methods to penetrate customers’ minds.
Notable here are a few trends that have been gathering storm for quite a while, and are increasingly dominating the way business is conducted.
Blurring of the Lines
Perhaps the most interesting thing to see in 2018 will be a widespread rebirth of the brick and mortar stores. While pure brick and mortar stores have little chance of succeeding without using the digital medium to catch customers’ attention, pure-play online stores fail to provide the “tangible” and “emotional” connection that customers so desire – vital to the perceived “depth” of experience with a brand. Of late, a good number of online retailers have been increasing their physical footprint using pop-up shops that allow customers to see, feel or try their products and return items conveniently. On the other hand, brick and mortar stores are using increasingly digital methods and the Internet of Things to augment shopping experiences and support customers during their entire journey.
According to a survey, about 40% millennials reported having used voice assistants while shopping online and this number is set to grow, with companies feeding customers more accurate and relevant search results.The rising popularity of home assistants such as Google Home will only add to the pressure that companies face in their competition for organic and paid space on Google search results, and the problem is compounded by the fact that voice search often delivers a single result only. SEO strategies will evolve to include natural language processing while differentiating between keywords, accents and other user-specific data to keep their heads above the water.
This might sound clichéd but the battle for more space in customers’ minds is set to grow fiercer as retailers use big data, analytics, AI and machine learning to generate relevant recommendations in real time. Recommendations, sales and promotions are no longer going to be based on other shoppers’ behaviour. Instead, results will be produced after delving deeper into a given customer’s own online journey, behaviour and bestsellers in a given product category.
Content is going to play a crucial role in engaging with customers, particularly video, which is by far the most effective and preferred tool for customers. Moreover, in 2018 we can expect more brands to create unique experiences using technologies like Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence to storyboard brand experiences and drive consumer loyalty. It’s no longer about how a product looks, it’s about it looks within the customer’s personal context.
Automated Client Servicing
Last but not the least — chatbots have particularly piqued organizations’ interest because they help automate trivial yet important tasks like responding to customer queries. It will be interesting to see what innovations come up from the mingling of Artificial Intelligence and chatbots. According to survey by Business Insider, we expect 80% businesses to have some form of chatbot automation by 2020.