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7 Emerging Ecommerce Trends to Follow in 2018

At this time of year, many retailers are planning projects which they hope will help take their ecommerce performance to the next level.

In this blog, Oliver Lees, Head of Insight at Space 48, outlines his 7 top ecommerce trends to watch out for in 2018, including the latest innovations and omnichannel tactics.

1) The impact of AI

Chatbots, predictive tools, voice assistants

Chatbots are the talk of the industry and implementing them is high on the agenda for many retail brands. This chart from Econsultancy’s recent Ecommerce Performance Report shows chatbots at the top of the list of business priorities in ecommerce:

ecommerce report chatbots trends

Despite the interest, we still expect a fairly slow adoption rate. Any new technology, especially with an AI element, is often greeted with apprehension, as retail businesses hold their reputation in high regard. 

Voice recognition will also have a big impact on the retail industry in 2018. A fast-growing number of households now have smart devices and voice assistants. This represents a big opportunity for marketers, whilst voice search and machine learning are changing the face of SEO – so you need to adapt your search strategy!

2) A richer and more relevant customer journey

Firstly, get prepared for more advanced personalisation tactics in 2018. There are lots of great tools available to retailers to deliver more relevant product recommendations and tailored content across ecommerce stores, retargeting ads and email marketing. 

Consumers expect relevance throughout their browsing journey and post-purchase marketing. Better personalisation boosts customer retention and nudges users towards repeat purchases. Get our ecommerce personalisation guide to learn more.

Secondly, get ready for more advanced pop-overs. The use of pop-ups on ecommerce websites will continue to increase this year. Pop-ups or pop-overs are persuasive conversion rate optimisation tactics, prompting customers with messages about deadlines and thresholds for deals and free delivery.

Take a look at this example from Cass Art and check out our blog about ecommerce pop-ups.

 Ecommerce pop-ups Cass Art basket summary 

3) Data-driven strategies

The use of automation and behavior-based retargeting is climbing. Data-driven strategies will be hugely prominent this year, as retail brands are naturally progressing with more advanced data and utilising third party solutions.

The increased level of data available to brands means that retailers have a better understanding of customer behaviours, helping them to deliver more relevant content.

4) More paid social activity

We’ve seeing a recent change in approach from many retailers with paid social, from brands boosting the odd post and trialing ad campaigns to more dedicated ad strategies.

As we all know, Facebook has reduced organic reach for brands, with its recent algorithm and newsfeed changes, whilst social networks have been arming brands with more opportunities for paid activity. The Facebook Pixel enables brands to create more intricate retargeting campaigns, based on browsing and buying behaviours.

Facebook-pixel-guide.jpg

Proven ROI for paid social means this is set to continue. Brands are more comfortable with the tools and the metrics are easier to measure, enabling a clearer attribution.

5) Omnichannel innovation

Omnichannel commerce is still relatively underutilised. Implementing effective omnichannel strategies requires significant planning, investment and platform integration.

Omnichannel shopping experiences help brands to meet consumer expectations and keep up with the competition. Here are some key omnichannel tactics to enhance your retail store's customer journey.

UGC and product tagging

We've seen a significant increase in adoption of UGC (user generation content) and we expect this to continue. Try using tools such as Olapic for curating tagged content from social channels. Charlotte Tilbury is a brand who do product tagging really well!

Tag your Tilbury UGC

Other UGC trends include unboxing videos, influencer marketing for product launches and hero product journey pages, which drive brand storytelling.

More multichannel in-store experiences

In-store brand experiences will be popular in 2018, as retailers look to be more innovative. Here are 4 key trends:

6) Mobile-first UX strategies

Google has paved the way for a mobile-first approach to UX, which has heavily influenced search ranking. Brands must ensure better mobile experiences to avoid being penalised. The result is a rise in mobile-friendly sites and further streamlining of the route to purchase.

Also, the growing influence of social media and mobile shopping in retail will encourage brands to enable more customers to buy products directly from apps and social channels.

7) VR and augmented reality 

Brands are trialling ways to enable customers to explore products using VR and augmented reality technology. As with chatbots, there’s a slow adoption of this technology, but brand experiences driven by VR will certainly emerge as a key tactic for innovative retailers.

The Ikea Place app, powered by ARKit, is a great example of the possibilities brands have to drive both innovative and useful customer experiences using augmented reality technology. The app enables users to virtually place Ikea furniture into their homes to see how it looks and fits. Take a look at the video below:

Summary

Embrace new technology and emerging trends in ecommerce. Don’t get left behind and fail to meet the ways in which retail is changing and how consumer shopping habits are quickly changing too, not to mention heightened customer expectations. The key is to have an agile approach and adapt to changes in the industry, adopt consumer-led trends and innovate with the data and tools available to retailers.

Do you need help planning your strategies for the year ahead? Get our free guide to creating an effective ecommerce roadmap and steer your brand on the path to success in 2018!

 Get 2018 Ecommerce Roadmap Guide

Space 48 is a leading UK ecommerce consultancy, specialising in ecommerce website development and omnichannel retail strategy. Our experienced ecommerce experts and Magento-certified developers offer a range of consulting services, assessments and audits. If you need advice or want to discuss your next ecommerce project, why not get in touch and see how we can help you improve your performance?

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