The biggest shopping time of the year has just finished and we are moving into a new year full of seasonal shopping periods and other opportunities for e-Commerce to continue to become the first choice of customers. Online shopping makes up 13% of all retail sales worldwide and it’s expected to reach over 17.5% in just a few years and beyond at that rate. As more people move to shop online, the more creative and strategy e-Commerce brands get to reach target customers, convert sales, and continue to automate the process.

Here are the top 10 e-Commerce trends to follow in 2019:

1. Flash sales.

If you haven’t gathered from the name, flash sales are sales or a drop in price on a specific item for a short period of time. Probably the best of all e-commerce trends, most well known examples are Black Friday and Cyber Monday. A flash sale can increase loyalty to your brand and drive many “wishlist” customers to hit checkout and actually make their purchase. The lifetime value of these customers, who are now thrilled about your brand’s generosity, is often well worth the drop in margin. The average flash sales increase traffic and your conversion by around 50% each almost instantaneously! It’s a hot marketing tactic and it’s working for plenty of brand who execute them well.

Flash sales

2. Social media micro-influencer content and codes.

The reign of social media as the top marketing method continues into 2019. This is an emerging e-commerce trend as customers are getting used to seeing, not trusting, and avoiding ads online in a phenomenon called “ad blindness”. As a result, buying decisions are influenced elsewhere. 49% of consumers rely on influencer recommendations. Using real people with genuine audiences better qualifies your product and brand. Many top e-Commerce site put significant effort behind building relationships with influencers and especially niche micro-influencers and creating discount codes and content plans with those influencers to better reach their target audience. It’s the best, most authentic way to get in front of your target audience and qualify your product to them.  

3. Personalization at every point.

This e-commerce trend is here to stay. Customers shopping online not only appreciate personalization, they have come to expect it. They no longer want to weed through irrelevant offers for them. Unless they find what they’re interested in on your page, in your email, or in your ad within seconds, you are likely to lose their attention to another offer. 62% of customers expect personalized offers and discounts from companies. Some places online where personalization is expected are: discounts, product recommendations, emails, and retargeted ads.

There are plenty of tools to help you automate personalization in these areas like Beamer. Beamer is a newsfeed that sits right within a site where you can create updates for new products, sales, discounts, new content, etc. all tailored to the user visiting your site through advanced segmentation. You can segment updates based on demographic, location, language, and past behavior on your site. You can also send push notifications for your updates via Beamer to keep those interested in your brand updated and coming back. It’s the best tool for boosting engagement and keeping customers updated on what’s new.

Customer personalization e-commerce

4. Shopping via many platforms.

The desktop shop is not only the main method of shopping for e-Commerce customers anymore. As mobile websites and even social media profiles become optimized to look like shop fronts, users are making their purchases directly from them. Where as before, you could drive significant traffic through Instagram, now you can show a responsive shop page in Instagram from a link. Pinterest was a pioneer with the “buy now” button on every pin that would take you directly to the item on it’s shop, even on mobile. Just this past holiday season, 40% of all e-Commerce purchases were made on a smartphone. Responsive sites and shop optimized social pages are a must for boosting revenue.

e-commerce via different platforms

5. Record-speed deliveries and international shipping.

Thanks to Amazon, e-Commerce customers also expect lightening fast delivery and more widespread shipping options. It should be something that is already worked into pricing as well because “free shipping” is hugely appealing. In fact, 60% of Online Shoppers Abandon Their Carts Because of Unexpected Extra Costs. Because customers can effectively be connected with shops and explore products from around the world via Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms, international shipping has become a necessary reaction to global demand even for smaller brands.

6. Subscription models.

There’s been a slow and steady rise in box subscription models and their unlikely to stop. Customers love the anticipation and surprise that comes with subscription models and they allow for brands like Birchbox to make strategic business partnerships with companies willing to give free product to market. Even for clothing, there are companies like Outfittery that will send entire outfits each week, so customers can try on clothes at  home and be charged for what they don’t send back. With a subscription model, you don’t have to continually advertise to make the repeat purchase; it’s highly cost effective. Expect this trend to continue into 2019 and expand out to more products.

e-commerce subscription model

7. AI for customer service.

As brands with possibly very small teams, drive international traffic 24/7, customer service becomes a potential weak point. Customers still demand excellent customer service online. Many brands have started using AI customer service solutions like chat bots. Chatbots can offer 24/7 customer assistance for a fraction of the price a sales team would cost. Chatbots now use Artificial Intelligence to auto respond with specific answers and information from your company when customers type in frequently asked questions. Chatbots take care of these routine questions and help customers get to a point of purchase so your team doesn’t need to dedicate time to this and your customer service looks flawless. Customer Relationship Management systems also use AI to read the mass amount of data coming in from your potential customers and determining when they are likely to purchase and help you to automate actions like discount emails, etc. Having all of this automated allows small teams to act as international brands and serve hundreds of thousands instantaneously.

8. Mobile checkout and faster checkout.

More and more customers in 2018 and now 2019, are checking out via mobile. Therefore, optimizing the mobile checkout process has become vital for converting customers. 40% of all eCommerce purchases during the 2018 holiday season were made on a smartphone and the trend will continue into the new year. People often discover and explore products via mobile on social media platforms and via email from brands. The process to checkout should be convenient and simple. The basic you will see are less fields at checkout, remembered payment info, and one page checkout. But now, brands are building out checkout based around where it’s most comfortable for mobile hand positioning and accordion pages so can move through the process quickly.

Mobile checkout

9. Ads are losing, content is winning.

As mentioned before, customers are becoming “ad blind” online. Customers look towards other methods of learning about companies and products. Businesses that blog see 126% higher lead growth than businesses that don’t regularly produce content.

SEO is still important in saving e-Commerce brands money and generating long term success.

The main focus, like for any other website, is still:

  • Creating content for long tail keywords
  • Creating content that is authentic and engaging
  • SEO optimizing pages and posts

A big focus for e-Commerce sites is generating content that is brand-building, authentic, and pushes towards sales but isn’t excessively sales-y. Many brands choose to include User Generated Content to achieve this, which is effective. 71% of buyers trust bloggers, vloggers, and social media influencers. It’s important this year that brands look at the quality and mix of their content to drive long term traffic and leads. Video content is expected to come to the forefront. According to Forbes, 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions and 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.

10. Extreme social media retargeting.

Let’s look at a few things: Around 70-80% of people will abandon a cart on an e-Commerce site after shopping. The average person spends 135 minutes per day on social media. Social media ad retargeting is how e-Commerce brands can connect these two and make sure those abandon carts eventually get checked out. When someone visits a website and explores products but then bounces, ads can be run to show in their social media feeds for the specific products they were interested in and bring them back. Social media retargeting is getting more and more specific and now brands can offer specific deals for abandoned products and more. Expect this trend to get more personalized in 2019.

For 2019, keep an eye on these trends and opportunities to work them into your strategy. It will be very interesting to see what organic methods for driving traffic and converting customers brands come up with and what tools to help with these processes emerge in 2019. For an easy and personalized way to engage and update shoppers on your site, try Beamer.