What an exciting year 2018 was: speedier mobile payments, social commerce booming, as well as increasingly clever personalisation techniques adding to the customer experience.
While 2019 will no doubt see advancements in more of the same areas, there are a few choice trends that we predict will emerge as the clear front-runners when it comes to shaping eCommerce this year.
1. Chatbots and AI grow in importance
Last year, Gartner predicted that 25% of customer support and services will be integrated with virtual assistants by 2020. Most companies still use relatively simple systems at the moment. For example, in customer services 90% of all queries are covered by the top 10 questions, according to Facebook, meaning that brands can achieve a lot with fairly simple automated messages.
In the AI world, natural language processing (NLP) is poised to make major advancements that’ll finally make more complex applications look appealing, and these should benefit chatbots immensely. MIT made this announcement back in November 2018, so we should expect a rise in brands taking steps to integrate chatbots, that are able to understand and respond accurately to complex queries and conversational requests, into their business – and as a result of this, elevating the customer experience online and increasing their path to conversion.
2. The ever-growing rise of Augmented Reality
2018 was arguably the breakthrough year for augmented and virtual reality technology – a year that brands saw great success with building AR into their overall strategies. Luxury brands like LVMH, and fast fashion brands like Topshop, are jumping onto this new way to connect with customers. With Samsung and Apple making AR more mainstream, Emarsys predicts that we’re going to start seeing the online and offline worlds merge even more, with use of AR, for example, allowing customers to try on clothes virtually and see 3D images of themselves, including accurate dimensions.
The potential for the use of these technologies is really exciting for other aspects too, such as personalisation within your VR experience, being able to purchase whilst in your VR reality, and much more.
3. Voice search grows to 50%
According to a recent report published by Econsultancy, 50% of searches will be done so via Voice by 2020. Just like search, voice technology is continually evolving and as a result is likely to become even more stringent in our everyday lives. Not surprising then that Voice Recognition is set to be to be a $601M industry in the not-too-distant future, and by end of 2019, it is expected that the speech recognition industry will be considered an enormous opportunity for brands and technologists who take advantage of the global trend.
Alexa and Google are moving at a fast pace and there is no reason that this trend isn’t going to be used in e-commerce in a big way over the next year. 2019 is the year that Voice Search trends pick up, and now is the time to start laying down the groundwork for how to leverage this technology into your business, and become an early adopter.
4. Payments become faster and more seamless
The ease of paying for a product online, and how to solve checkout processes, has been a long-standing discussion and debate in eCommerce, and will most likely continue to be over the coming years. However, leaders in flexible payment options like Klarna, offering to make extending customer’s credit and allowing them to pay later, is drastically making it easier for customers to buy products online.
Additionally, Web Payments, the emerging web standard that is being developed by the W3C, will mean that online payments will be simplified to such lengths that native UIs for checkout with previously saved data, such as address information and card details, will be accessed by just a couple of clicks. This allows users to break out from complicated checkout processes, making consumers and merchants lifes far simpler. Overall this year, buying products online is going to be a far quicker and more seamless process.
5. B2B makes further strides with eCommerce
According to Forrester Research in 2017, estimated business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce transactions would reach $1.2 trillion by 2021. B2B eCommerce is very much in-play and 2019 will see more and more B2B businesses taking proactive steps to not only understand eCommerce, but build it into their long-term growth plans and strategies. Forrester Research also states that 83% of B2B sellers are either in the process of upgrading/implementing their eCommerce suite or planning to do so within six months.