The retail & e-commerce landscape is shifting dramatically. Review the current state of retail and you will see the ‘retail apocalypse’ impacting an incredible amount of household brands, with stores closing with increased frequency. Decisions are being made to shutter less profitable brick-and-mortar locations, while others brands are ditching brick-and-mortar all together. As a result, retailers are doubling-down on their e-commerce efforts at a rapid pace.
Current retail trends show that 51% of Americans prefer online shopping, with ecommerce growing 23% year-over-year. Ecommerce is expected to change at an even faster rate as brands embrace the power of voice search and omni-platform/omni-device options. Voice assistants are already being used to make purchases by 40% of millennials, with that number expected to exceed 50% by 2020. This transformation of the digital retail landscape will only continue to grow as more consumers integrate digital devices into their shopping habits.
With this real-time retail disruption happening, it was time to poll the industry and eight ecommerce luminaries share their thoughts on the future of e-commerce in 2018 and beyond. Here are the anticipated retail trends, offline and online, to be aware of.
Trend #1: Entrepreneurial E-Commerce Breakout
Ecommerce will be more important than ever in 2018. Luckily, it’s also incredibly easy to get started. Expect to see an influx of e-comm entrepreneurs ready to get their digital feet wet.
It’s never been easier to launch your own online store, find a product to sell, or start an advertising campaign. In the near-future we’ll see even more aspiring entrepreneurs breaking through into the world of ecommerce, who may not have had the means to do so previously.” — Tomas Slimas – Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Oberlo
Trend #2: Smarter, Faster, Blockchain-Enabled AI
As AI-powered chatbots become even smarter, expect the rise of artificial intelligence chatbot interfaces to continue. Combined with opportunities like blockchain technology, the power of chatbot messaging to fuel the future of retail is nothing short of astounding — the timing is ripe, too.
In 2018 we’ll see more companies investing in chatbot services to automate part of their customer service process. The market for chatbots and automated customer service is growing; a Business Insider survey reported that 80% businesses expect to have chatbot automation implemented to some extent by 2020. A LivePerson survey of 5,000 consumers showed that 67% had used a chatbot for customer support in the last 12 months.” — James Gurd – Owner, DigitalJuggler
Trend #3: The Customer Journey Will Get Smarter
From virtual personal shoppers to personal recommendation technology powered by AI software, the future of retail is will indeed be more personalized.
During the coming year, it’s likely consumers will increasingly choose to shop with brands that demonstrate customer centricity across all facets of their business, from personalized, customer-aware marketing to shopper-friendly shipping and return policies.” Jimmy Duvall – Chief Product Officer, BigCommerce
Trend #4: An Even Bigger Year for Amazon
We’ve only begun to see Amazon’s impact on the retail landscape. They’re transforming the way brands like Walmart compete and acquire customers; this trend will continue as Jeff Bezos and gang double-down on opportunities like voice-activated shopping and the international expansion of their Prime offerings.
I’d say the trend that’ll have the biggest impact on ecommerce in 2018 will again be Amazon. Their growth is continuing to advance at an incredible rate, and they’re changing the ways in which independent merchants have to sell, think and operate online” —Andrew Youderian – Founder, eCommerceFuel
Trend #5: Continued Emergence of Opportunity
Technology will continue to transform the digital landscape. Look for technological advances in everything from sensors to augmented reality ( AR) that influence how consumers shop and interact with brands.
I think the ‘ nobody is 100% offline anymore’ is the critical part. That and tech is getting more user-friendly & the users are getting more tech-savvy, which means there’s a whole new area between ‘ traditional ecommerce’ and ‘ traditional offline retail’ opening up— it will be an exciting space that rewards bold new entrants.” – Visakan Veerasamy – Content strategist, CandyBar
Trend #6: Going Beyond Recommended Products
The sentiments of Jimmy Duvall, above, are mutually felt within the industry and ecommerce is poised to see truly individualized recommendations ( the way they were intended to be).
In 2018, ecommerce will see much better 1:1 personalization. It’s going beyond just ‘recommended products’ based on everyone else’s buying habits, and instead, giving catered recommendations based on your individual preferences.” — William Harris – Ecommerce Expert – Elumynt
Trend #7: More Subscription Box Models
We’ll see more brands adopt a subscription mentality with part of their product inventory. This trend will continue to grow as retailers realize they must compete with subscription offerings if they hope to adapt and survive.
I believe that the subscriptions segment of the eCommerce market is going to continue to grow rapidly in 2018. But beyond subscription boxes, many online retailers are finding a lot of success by adding subscription models onto their traditional eCommerce model.” — Danny Halarewich – LemonStand Founder & CEO, LemonStand
Trend #8: [Video] Content is Still King
2018 will definitely be a year where brands get smarter about measuring their ROI, but expect to see a larger allocation of content, especially video.
My biggest prediction for eCommerce in 2018 is that more brands will use content to differentiate themselves. A big part of that content will be videos.” —Bill Widmer – Ecommerce Marketing Consultant, BillWidmer.com
This insight roundup gives you a great view on the shifting sands of the retail landscape. Both brands and customers should be 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 retail.