In 2018 we saw healthy growth across the board for online retail with the global ecommerce market now worth $US2.8 trillion and Neto ecommerce businesses enjoying an average 30% sales growth, as reported in the State of Ecommerce Report.
The 2018 holiday season also proved fruitful for many and although official online shopping sales figures are yet to be released, one winner was Amazon reporting their strongest holiday sales yet.
So as we wave goodbye to the holidays and return to work with our bellies full and minds rested, it’s a perfect time to look at what the new year will bring. These are my predictions for retail and ecommerce in 2019.
5 Ecommerce Predictions and Trends to watch in 2019:
1. The Rise of Marketplaces Will Continue
Amazon and eBay will continue to fight it out for marketplace dominance in Australia, but it’s consumers who will be the ultimate winners with new innovations, world-class service, and low prices the prizes.
Utilization of third-party delivered inventory and logistics for Amazon (including Fulfilment by Amazon) will increase as retailers look to take advantage of their growing loyal customer base and find efficiencies in servicing this market. In terms of attracting consumers to buy on marketplaces, we will see new channels like Voice Commerce powered by Amazon Alexa begin to really gain traction.
| Related Reading: Top Online Marketplaces: Where to Sell in 2019
2. Automation Won’t Just Save Time
Automation of inventory and fulfillment across sales channels will become increasingly important, especially with the rise of marketplaces and new ways of buying like social and voice commerce. Efforts to manually manage operations across ecommerce, marketplaces and physical channels will become near-futile, and businesses that look to automation will be the ones that survive in an ever-increasing competitive environment.
| Related Reading: 10 Ways to Automate Processes in Your Retail Business
3. AI, AR and Chat Bots Will Secure Their Place in Retail
We’ve been hearing about Augmented Reality (AR) for some time now, but we’ve been yet to see this filter down into the mainstream in any valuable way. In 2019, AR that has practical applications will start to make inroads both in-store and in home. Think magic mirrors and apps that empower you to experience a product without leaving the house—the ultimate try before you buy.
Chat bots will be another technology that finally finds its place. Embedded into web or social media channels, bots will relieve customer service agents from performing grunt work such as order status updates or retrieving shipping tracking numbers. This type of artificial intelligence and machine learning won’t take away jobs like some media outlets might have you believe; instead, it will empower SMBs to shift their limited resources to strategic growth activity.
4. Voice Commerce: We’re All Ears
I’ve mentioned voice search a couple of times now, but it deserves its own dedicated prediction as it will become a priority for retailers in 2019.
According to eMarketer, people using voice assistants like Google Home, Amazon Alexa and let’s not forget Siri, will grow to 76.5 million in 2019. And retailers will need to optimize their product catalogs to tap into this growing market and expand SEO strategies to account for voice search engines.
Leveraging marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay as a means to being found through voice channels is a key way for retailers to take advantage of this opportunity.
5. Unique, Personalized Experiences Will Win Over Discounting
Multi-channel retailers that focus their attention on building a unique brand experience that is channel agnostic and aligned to their customer values, will win out against those that focus on short-term strategies such as discounting or product diversification.
Personalized shopping experiences will become the norm for SMB ecommerce stores and will eventually filter into physical stores. With the integration of machine learning and AI, a growing list of low-cost solutions are now readily available for small retailers to adopt, empowering them to compete with the likes of Amazon and eBay on this front.
Ultimately 2019 will be about leveraging technology to not just find more customers, but to learn about and truly understand them, which in turn will enable you to deliver an enhanced customer experience to get that first sale and many more repeat sales.
Technology will also allow retailers to find new, faster ways of doing things, or to not do those things at all. Again this feeds straight back into being able to provide a better customer experience and work more on your business, not in it.
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