Ecommerce 2019: 10 Trends Shaping the Future of Commerce

By Laura Kluz | Jan 21, 2019
  • In 2018, ecommerce in the United States grew by 16% to reach more than $500 billion. The global ecommerce market is expected to hit $4.8 trillion by 2021.

  • Shopify had it's biggest Black Friday, Cyber Monday yet, selling $37 million per hour, 60.9% more than in 2017. 

  • Mobile is fueling ecommerce, with shopping as its fastest-growing segment, up 54% year-over-year. 

Last year proved to be a sales-crushing, record-breaking, awe-inspiring type of year.

Fuelled by mobile, ecommerce in North America reached more than $500 billion in 2018, a growth of 16%. Although it still represents only 11.9% of all retail, the growth of online shopping is truly stunning.

Consumers are craving speed and convenience more than ever, and merchants are thinking outside-of-the-box to create some truly remarkable customer experiences.

Let’s take a look at 10 ecommerce trends in 2019, all of which can be used to fuel growth and take businesses to a new level.

Quick Guide:

  1. Mobile commerce has revolutionized ecommerce as we know it.
  2. Native Social Shopping is delivering results.
  3. Voice commerce will soon become the norm.
  4. Easier and fast checkout options are now expected.
  5. Online B2B experiences will receive the B2C treatment.
  6. Customers want seamless omni-channel experiences.
  7. Augmented Reality becomes mainstream.
  8. Automation is more accessible than ever.
  9. Forget free shipping, it has to be fast too.
  10. Subscription models are growing faster than ever before.

Mobile commerce has revolutionized ecommerce as we know it.

By far the overarching theme of 2019 is the rise of mobile commerce; it’s the future of ecommerce as we know it. With 1.2 billion people worldwide accessing the internet from their smartphone, it’s no surprise we've set our sights on mobile.

This trend has been in the works for a while; last year, Google took the step of mobile-first indexing, meaning merchants needed to take their mobile site into account for SEO ranking. And while consumers are spending more time than ever before browsing on their handheld devices, they aren’t necessarily buying on their phones.

What this means:  A mobile-responsive website isn’t enough to win over customers. Rather than adjusting the layout and size of your page to fit smaller screens, merchants need to optimize for the visitor: ensure the mobile journey is clear, informative and above all else, easy.

Top tips Mobile UX

Native Social Shopping is delivering results.

While the rise of social selling isn’t new, buying directly on the platform is.

Shortening the sales funnel is a huge bonus for businesses, and becoming a one-stop shop where customers are taken through a frictionless journey directly impacts profit. 

The major social platforms have been testing and expanding their native selling technology, where users don't need to leave the platform to buy. Snapchat’s “Shop and Cop,” Facebook's “Buy Now” button, or Instagram's rumoured new shopping channel where users can browse through products and make purchases directly on the platform.

Instagram

Instagram Shopping

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What this means: Social selling will merge with ecommerce and merchants will adapt their marketing strategies and ad copy to account for users buying directly on social media (meaning customers might never land on your website).

    Voice commerce will soon become the norm.

      Whether Siri is your best friend or just an acquaintance, there’s no denying that voice technology has added a new level of convenience into our lives.

      While voice commerce has had a slow start, it’s expected to become a major player soon as more and more people start incorporating voice-search assistants into their daily routines (take the Amazon Echo for example... it’s been projected to sell 60 million units by 2022!).

      Reasons for using Voice SearchWhat it means: Merchants must take voice-search into account when optimizing their store for SEO purposes.

      Here are some effective ways to do that:

      • Think about search words: Search by voice is different and merchants need to optimize keywords to be more conversational. Voice queries tend to run six to 10 words in length and start with the five W’s - who, what, when, where, why (and how).
      • Photos aren't an option: Voice shoppers can’t rely on visual elements to answer questions, so copy needs to be clear, informative and descriptive.

      *For an in-depth look at SEO in 2019, check out this handy guide. Skip to page 72 to get the inside-scoop on optimizing content for voice search. 

      Easier and fast checkout options are now expected.

      Have you ever been ready to buy something online and then realized you’d have to get up and walk to another room to get your credit card, and delayed the purchase as a result?

      Or gotten frustrated by having to enter your shipping and billing addresses again?!  

      Enter, faster checkout options and digital wallets.

      Digital payments offer customers an easy way to breeze through checkout without having to re-enter all their information. Studies have found that digital payment checkouts convert better than checkouts without them.

      Shopify Pay

      What this means: Merchants should have multiple payment options at the time of checkout, including one-click checkout to encourage customers to follow through with their purchase. Popular expedited payment options include Amazon Pay, PayPal, Apply Pay and Shopify Pay. Offering these options at checkout allows customers to quickly move through the process. 

      Online B2B experiences will receive the B2C treatment.

      One big advantage retailers have in ecommerce is the ability to give visitors a truly personalized shopping experience - one customers now expect when browsing online.  

      While this has been standard in B2C business practice for the past few years, it’s just now moving into the B2B space. While traditionally a slow-moving industry - with orders taken via phone - wholesale orders are now moving into the fast-paced digital environment. 

      B2B’s buyers are shifting their expectations to have more B2C-like functionalities when it comes to ordering. The younger demographic wants a frictionless buying experience that’s simplified and tailored to their previous purchases. 

      Here's an example from Velour Lashes, who has created a streamlined ordering processes for their wholesale buyers:

      Shopify Wholesale Ordering

      Shopify Wholesale Order

      Shopify Wholesale Order

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      What it means: This creates an opportunity for merchants to offer a more personalized wholesale experience for their most valued customers (if done right).

      P.s. Are you looking to get into the B2B market? Here’s a rundown of the requirements you’ll need to think about while approaching a wholesale shop.

      Customers want seamless omni-channel experiences. 

        Retailers need to bridge the gap between the physical and online world. Choice rather than location, is the future of commerce.

        An omni-channel experience accounts for each platform and device a customer uses to interact. It aims to integrate them together for a seamless shopping experience. For example, visitors may browse on their phone, checkout on their desktop and pick-up in store. 

        What this means: The ability to deliver a consistent user experience across all touchpoints - online and offline - is what merchants need to consider as they strive to create exceptional customer experiences.

        • Allow orders and returns from multiple locations: Give in-store customers the ability to see products and deals on their mobile devices. Allow them to pick-up online purchases in-store, have stores process returns and allow for exchanges in a nearby retail location.

        • Consider pop-up shops: Many digital brands hope to turn online traffic into physical traffic, which allow customers to touch the product before ordering. Shopify’s new “tap and chip” POS reader gives merchants the ability to accept credit card payments anywhere.

        Pop-up Shops in New York City

        *There is a lot to think about when creating an exceptional omni-channel experience. We recommend reading this thorough guide to give you a good understanding of what you’ll need to think about when approaching an omni-channel strategy.

        Augmented Reality becomes mainstream. 

        *Augmented Reality (AR) is different than Virtual Reality (VR). AR adds digital elements to a live view, often with a camera on a smartphone. VR shuts out the physical world completely.

        Ecommerce got a whole lot more exciting in 2018 thanks to virtual experiences that are easily available at the touch of our fingertips.

        Last year, we saw AR take a huge leap forward as brands rolled out features that allow customers to visualize items in their own home before purchasing. AR has the potential to significantly alter visitor engagement, while helping to combat the massive $260 billion return problem.

        Shopify stores such as Horne adopted AR technology in 2018, and we will see AR hit the mainstream this year as more and more businesses follow Horne’s lead.  


        Shopify AR Horne

        What this means: Businesses who want to boost engagement, lower return rates and stand out in a crowded marketplace should consider AR for an innovative edge in their marketing efforts.

        When investing in AR for your shop, be sure to consider technology barriers. While AR is becoming more accessible than ever, it only works with Shopify stores on iOS 12 devices (through the Safari browser, so users don’t need to download a separate mobile app or use a clunky headset). Chances are your entire audience won’t be living on iOS 12 just yet.

        Automation is more accessible than ever.

        For ecommerce merchants, the quickest efficiency win is automation. It helps them save time, lower costs and sell more. 

        Who wouldn’t want that?

        Automation will continue to shape the future of ecommerce, simplifying processes and providing better customer service as more ecommerce platforms build and integrate it in their core package.

        For Shopify Plus merchants, automation has been the backbone of holiday and marketing strategies for the past two years, driving operational efficiency. Tools such as Launchpad and Flow have allowed retailers to schedule sales and automate backend processes with ease.

        Shopify continues to evolve this technology, with the recent addition of connectors to Flow, giving merchants the ability to expand outside of Shopify itself and automate third-party apps such as loyalty programs.

         Shopify Connectors

        What this means: All of this equates to retailers saving time, selling more and lowering their costs.

        Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas to get your mind in the automation game:

        • Harness the power of email automation: Create sequences like a Welcome Flow, Post-Purchase, Abandonment Cart, Win-Back Sequence and/ or Browse-Abandonment flows to win sales on autopilot
        • Drive efficiency with Shopify Flow: Create workflows to handle back-end processes. For example, create an alert that lets your sales team know via Slack that a top customers has made a purchase, so you can send them a nice thank you message :)

          Forget free shipping, it has to be fast too.

            Free shipping has long been a strategy many ecommerce merchants adopt, and with good reason - high shipping fees at the time of checkout account for 54% of cart abandonments Of that number, 39% leave because shipping wasn’t free.

            In this post-Prime era, not only do customers want free shipping, they expect it. Fast shipping is equally as important as free shipping, with 54% of shoppers considering "fast shipping" to mean delivery in two days or less.

            Shipping Importance Shopify

            In 2019, we will see demand for fast shipping options increase, as customers become more and more conditioned to fast delivery times. Same-day delivery will become standard (thanks Amazon!) and new fast delivery options will make waves - such as drone delivery, which promises to deliver (small) packages in 30 minutes or less.

            What it means: As shipping costs continue to rise, and new options become mainstream, merchants need to ensuring delivery times are competitive to keep up with customer satisfaction.

            Consider these shipping strategies to offset the cost of shipping (after all, you’re not Amazon!):

            • Shipping upgrades: To meet the needs to customers, give them the option to upgrade to expedited shipping for a reasonable fee. For example, Beardbrand offers $9.99 express shipping at checkout.

            • Communicate your policy: Ensure you’re communicating shipping timelines clearly to customers throughout the shopping process.  Let them know early on in the funnel about any free shipping offers, but it’s also important to clearly communicate the estimated shipping times throughout the checkout process.
               
            • Promotions: Consider running a Fast Shipping promotion during major retail holidays, especially as shipping cut-off dates loom closer.

              Subscription models are growing faster than ever before. 

              For brands who offer products that need replenishment, offering a subscription-based service can be a great way to boost sales, loyalty and overall customer satisfaction.

              Customers love this model because it gives them access to the products they want when they need it most. Above all else, it’s mindless.

              Reasons why people want a subscription model

              The subscription-based model has skyrocketed in recent years, with many businesses trying to replicate the success of Blue Apron and Dollar Shave Club. Merchants across every category from wine to eyelashes now offer subscription services, which has seen massive growth (we're talking an increase of 4,461% here!) since 2011.

              In 2019, we’ll see this trend continue to unfold, as more retailers align their model to this consumer behaviour. Businesses will reap the benefits, too: recurring revenue adds stability, customer retention is bolstered, and the flexibility of it all leads to a bump in customer satisfaction.

              *If you’re looking to add a subscription model to your Shopify store, we recommend ReCharge payments as a powerful third-party solution capable of handling high-powered clients.

              What it means: Customers will expect to see more and more of their favourite products become available as a subscription service, as more businesses adjust their model to offer this service.

              Here are some tips as you approach a subscription-based model:

              • Offer monthly subscriptions and avoid cancellation fees: Customers will steer clear of long-term commitments, and will stay away from ones that have a cancellation fee.

              • Keep personalization in mind: Add a human touch to each subscription package by giving them samples of other products. This gives you a way to quietly upsell customers as they try additional products that might interest them. 
                • Use email to your advantage: Send emails to subscribers, reminding them their package is about to arrive. Add product recommendations in each email to upsell products that aren’t in their subscription box.

                As we mentioned earlier, customer expectations have shifted. We're betting on customer experience to be at the heart of ecommerce moving forward. Rather than conversion rate optimization (CRO), merchants will need to consistently and relentlessly optimize for the customer.

                Focus on that, and we're confident it'll fuel your growth.

                 Need help implementing any of the strategies listed in this article? Let’s talk!

                 

                Laura Kluz

                Laura Kluz

                Laura Kluz is a digital marketer at Fuel Made who specializes in the world of ecommerce. She's a Canadian who loves making maple syrup, trail running in the mountains and baking cookies at least once a week.