This year retailers will present more innovative ways to sell their goods to online consumers. So, what trends in e-commerce can we expect in 2018?
As global e-commerce is expected to hit US $2.8 trillion in 2018, with APAC alone predicted to generate $1.4 trillion, 2018 will present the market with more inventive ways for retailers to sell their goods to consumers.
So, what trends can we expect for e-commerce in 2018?
This year will see innovation in delivery like no other year. As consumers more and more opt to buy goods online, their delivery expectations around efficiency and flexibility are rising too. Customers today want faster (and free, or at the very least cheap) delivery, more delivery options and seamless returns policies as well.
In-home delivery may break the barrier in 2018. Last year Walmart took things a step further by trailing grocery delivery all the way to consumers’ kitchen benchtops and fridges, while its subsidiary Jet.com gave away free smart-locks to consumers as it’s recognised the significant potential savings in delivery costs.
Drone delivery may also take flight in 2018, which will help to service rural regions that present geographic and costing issues. According to Alice Fournier, director at Kantar Retail, e-commerce has essentially altered the way people outside of urban areas shop: “While they traditionally shopped with more of a stock-up approach, having access to free-shipping programs means the flexibility to shop more often, with a lower overall basket value.” Fournier says that problem is “the inherent costs to retailers of the current model make it unsustainable from a profitability standpoint.”
This year will see a continuation of the biggest tech trend on 2017 – voice commerce. As Google and Amazon undergo its battle of the smart speaker, Google Home Vs Echo, discounting devices and reaching the mainstream and as more and more consumers are entwining interactions via voice into their everyday lives – voice-activated shopping is set to climb in 2018.
Drive for Dynamic Applications
With a plethora of glossy technology now available in e-commerce, in 2018 more retailers will bring out applications that offer more than a gimmick – they will be more practical and offer a more personalised experience to customers. More and more brands will offer augmented experiences that will enable online shoppers to virtually try on clothes, makeup or see how furniture will look like in their homes.
Take for instance BMW’s iVisualizer app, that allows consumers to build their own bespoke car online and then take a virtual walk through a BMW showroom. Being able to remodel your kitchen via The Blue Space’s 3D virtual reality showrooms isn’t just appealing to consumers who can make more informed purchase decisions, it reduces costs such as showroom setups. The retailer also reports a reduction in goods returned and associated costs. In addition, it creates a more seamless customer experience and that is key when it comes to repeat purchase and customer loyalty.
Private Labels Go Big
Not just relevant in e-commerce, but retail as a whole, 2017 saw the remarkable rise of the private label, with companies including Woolworths, Coles, David Jones, Target and ASOS aggressively pushing their private label brands. Apart from the consumer’s mindset of saving, private labels allow retailers to provide an experience to customers that cannot be easily replicated. That, and higher gross margins, leveraging well-known brands and exclusivity – all of which have become necessities when it comes to success in retail today.
Target is one retailer that has done well with this. By collaborating with fashion designers like Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney and releasing exclusive collections, the retailer has injected an air of chic into it which is transforming the brand. In order to be successful with private labels, however, retailers need to offer more than just price – it’s about differentiating and presenting enticing offers to consumers.
A More Personalised Experience
Personalisation was another big buzzword in 2017, and this will gain more traction in 2018. In fact, retailers will invest more in personalisation this year than any other area of retail in 2018, according to new research from Forrester.
Brendan Witcher, principal analyst at Forrester Research, says that personalisation now is no longer just about predictive technology, explaining that it has evolved from personalisation to individualisation. The Starbucks app, Sephora’s beauty stations and Lowe’s Holoroom are good examples of this. For more on this, click here.