With that in mind, what does 2019 hold for this thriving but increasingly busy sector? And more importantly, what should you be considering for your business?
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)
Augmented reality - technology that superimposes interactive computer-generated imagery onto the user’s view of their surroundings – and virtual reality, a computer-generated simulation of an environment, offer a range of benefits to retailers – especially those operating predominantly online.
We’ve already seen some major retailers test the AR and VR waters as ways of improving the customer experience. IKEA, for example, recently launched its own AR service, IKEA Place, which allows shoppers to virtually ‘place’ furniture in their homes before buying. And, with both types of technology becoming more accessible, the rest of the ecommerce world could follow in 2019.
Improved product filtering
Just over half (54%) of shoppers look for specific items when visiting ecommerce sites, so it’s important that your website allows users to find exactly what they’re after quickly.
Filters have long been used to shorten the buying journey, but with most sellers’ product ranges growing, we’ll likely see these tools adapted to allow even narrower searches.
On your own site, look at more than just the number of filters being offered – the order in which they’re presented should also flow naturally, and they should work together rather than against one another. Consider where the filters are on the page and how easy they are to operate, too.
Automation and chatbots
Automation in its various forms has the potential to free up valuable time for you and your team. The idea of automating behind-the-scenes processes like product categorisation and stock re-ordering isn’t new, but the technologies on offer are quickly becoming more capable and, as a result, we’re expecting to see some interesting developments in 2019.
Chatbots in particular have come a long way in recent years, with the latest solutions more intelligent and ‘human’ than ever – and forward-thinking businesses are quickly realising the time- and cost-saving potential on offer. A survey of 800 companies carried out by cloud firm Oracle found that 80% plan to be using chatbots by 2020, and it could well be worth following suit.
If you’ve made it this far as an online seller, you’ll no doubt already have a responsive website set up perfectly for mobile viewing – but have you considered a dedicated mobile app?
Once dominated by big-name retailers like Amazon and AliExpress, the ecommerce app market is growing as more and more sellers realise the potential. Figures from Business Insider show that retail apps accounted for 44% of ecommerce transactions in the last three months of 2017; desktop and the mobile web accounted for just 33% and 23% respectively.
An app is perhaps only worth considering for those with large enough product ranges, but with better responsiveness, more convenient user interfaces and fewer design restrictions, it’ll be a no-brainer for some in 2019.
Last but certainly not least, we expect sellers to up their games once again when it comes to product delivery – and that means more speed and more convenience.
Thanks in part to the incredible distribution efficiency of Amazon, next-day delivery is no longer the luxury selling point it once was. Most online shoppers expect their orders to arrive extremely quickly, and sellers will need to continue finding new ways to meet demand. Stock room efficiency will be crucial, as will strong courier partnerships.
With all that in mind, 2019 looks set to be an excitingly busy year for the ecommerce sector, and one in which online sellers will have plenty of opportunities to evolve. Extra opportunities mean more international money-making potential, which is why having a specialist currency service at your fingertips is crucial. Open a free account with moneycorp and you have access to competitive exchange rates to help keep those profit margins looking healthy. With the ability to make and track international payments wherever you are in the world, it’s worth seeing how much money and time you could save with us.