Success in ecommerce is all about being where your customer is and showing up when they’re shopping for what you sell. It seems relatively straightforward on paper, but it gets so much more complicated when it comes to strategy, implementation, and an ever-increasingly competitive landscape. Part of staying ahead is staying on top of emerging trends. Here are a few important ecommerce trends of 2019:
1. Integrated Marketing is Essential
Whether you call it integrated marketing, or know it as multichannel or omnichannel marketing, it’s important for your marketing efforts to include the multiple channels your customers use and to be cohesive across them. That means your branding should be consistent and you should be providing an incredible user experience whether a customer visits your brick-and-mortar store, your website, reads an email from your brand, visits you on social media, and more.
The better you can connect these channels to provide a consistent, personalized experience for a customer across them, the better. Because integrated marketing is so essential, it also means you can’t ignore the channels your customers use the most, especially social media. As social media platforms continue to develop tools for ecommerce, your ecom brand cannot afford to ignore them.
There are a ton of opportunities for ecommerce on social media. Facebook may be a consistent part of your social media strategy, but there are specific opportunities on other platforms that are becoming more popular. Between buy buttons and shoppable experiences, you definitely don’t want to miss out. These are just a few opportunities to keep your eyes on:
Shoppable Instagram Stories
Instagram has long been a great social resource for ecommerce. The focus on great images serves ecommerce well and provides a platform for brands to showcase their products, engage in influencer marketing, connect with customers who are already primed to connect with brands, and more. As Instagram continued to grow, more ecommerce opportunities were developed, which allowed brands to tag products to create a more “shoppable” experience.
As we move into 2019, we should see shoppable Instagram stories become more popular. Shoppable posts, shoppable stories, and in-story “stickers” that allow users to see details about a product are all options ecommerce brands should consider testing in their Instagram strategy. Experimenting with the new features and testing to see which ones deliver for your ecom brand can help take your social ecommerce strategy to the next level.
YouTube TrueView Shopping
Shoppable TrueView ads on YouTube aren’t new to 2019, but they are becoming more popular. These are the ads that give the viewer options for watching them and allow them to take action by clicking through to a product for purchase or something else.
The most common type of TrueView ad is the one that allows a viewer to skip the ad after 5 seconds. These ads continue to gain popularity for ecommerce because they are effective, have a higher click-through rate than other types of YouTube-based ads, and are built so the brand only pays for the ad when viewers choose to interact with it.
Snapchat Collection Ads
Snapchat began rolling out Collection Ads in 2018. As we move into 2019, we should see more ecommerce companies testing out this new ad format. Snapchat Collection Ads are similar to Shoppable Instagram Stories in that a short video features a number of products, which are featured at the bottom of the screen while the video plays.
Users watching the Collection Ad can click on a product image in order to make a purchase. This type of ad is new, so many companies are still experimenting with it and testing its effectiveness. However, if your audience is on Snapchat, it’s well worth trying out a new ad format that may help lead to purchase.
2. Customers Expect More Personalization
Personalization matters and, in 2019, it will matter even more for ecommerce brands. Your customers expect more personalization, but only in a way that’s useful to them and doesn’t come across as creepy. Personalization that is irrelevant or too personal can come across as annoying or intrusive, which are two things you don’t want to be associated with your brand.
In addition to omnichannel marketing, customers also expect omnichannel personalization. Not only does your messaging need to be cohesive across channels, but it also needs to provide personalized interactions for customers across channels. Essentially, your customer should receive a cohesive, personalized experience from your brand as they interact with you from one channel to the next.
Chatbots are a useful tool for brands and can be a big help in ecommerce. Not only does a chatbot allow you to connect with customers on a more personalized, individualized basis, but they also help reduce a lot of friction in a customer’s journey towards checkout and transaction confirmation. Proper use of chatbots can help improve potential customers’ perceptions of, and experiences with, your brand and increase overall sales.
One way to personalize your brand experience is to implement custom packaging. The packaging of your product goes a long way in your customer’s perception of it when they see it on a shelf or receive it in the mail.
Customized and unique packaging to your brand can help make your customers more excited about your brand and your product, view your brand as more sophisticated, and increase the chance they’ll share it on social media or tell their friends about it.
3. Dropshipping on the Rise
In the past few years, dropshipping has become more popular. This ecommerce trend continues in 2019. The rising popularity of dropshipping opens up more shipping opportunities for your ecommerce brand and also makes it easier for competitors to get up and running. This takes out the need for brand-owned warehouses, inventory, and more.
A move to dropshipping can give your business more freedom with products, but also lowers the bar for entry as ecom businesses don’t need as much capital to start. But, dropshipping isn’t just for startups. Big name brands also have started making the jump to dropshipping because it lowers overhead costs, reduces risk, and removes the need for physical inventory storage.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Dropshipping has its own unique challenges and potential obstacles. Because you are purchasing and shipping through a supplier, you usually don’t have any control over the shipping, which can result in longer shipping times than you would like. Also, the seller’s reputation can affect your brand’s reputation. Unethical or unprofessional sellers can cause a serious online reputation management problem for your brand.
4. Smarter Checkouts and Payment Processing
Checkout and payment processing is the last step between a customer and your product. It’s also where most cart abandonment happens. Lengthy checkouts, anything that causes friction or distrust, surprise shipping costs, and more can all contribute to a customer abandoning their cart and not completing the payment process. This also means optimizing the checkout and payment experience for mobile devices.
Although there have been a lot of strides in the war against cart abandonment, the battle continues into 2019. Smoother, smarter checkout processes and easier, more secure payment options will continue to be an important ecommerce trend in 2019 and will only become more sophisticated as brands try to keep up with customers.
5. Making the Jump to Amazon
Your customers don’t just shop on your website. They are also shopping on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, other social media platforms, and other merchant platforms, like Amazon, eBay, Google Shopping, and more. In order to compete and be where the customers are shopping, many ecommerce businesses are making the jump and selling and advertising on Amazon as well as their own website and other channels.
It can be difficult to manage multiple channels, but thankfully, technology is keeping up. Many ecommerce platforms have developed tools to sync your inventory across popular channels and allow orders to be processed from one location. After all, if your customer is shopping for your product on multiple channels, your product should be there when they’re ready to buy.
6. Going for a Taste of Brick-and-Mortar
Ecommerce brands that started online and have grown their digital presence are starting to expand into physical locations and even brick-and-mortar as part of their overall marketing strategy. Ecommerce brands can start gaining a physical presence by attending events, shows, festivals, and more.
Pop-up shops have been a popular way for ecommerce brands to test brick-and-mortar or to participate in events in a way that would drive sales and they continue to gain popularity. Some ecommerce brands even go as far to make the full jump to brick-and-mortar and set up permanent storefronts to add a physical presence to their established digital one. Throughout 2019, we may see this trend continue and for more online-first ecom brands to step on board and start building offline.
7. Taking Advantage of Voice Search and Smart Assistants
As voice search continues to rise and more homes adopt smart assistants, adapting for voice-based searches and queries will become more essential for ecommerce companies. This means optimizing your website, content, and product information for text searches and for related voice queries as well as voice-based shopping experiences. If someone asks their smart home assistant which brand has the best product in your industry, don’t you want that robotic voice to answer with your brand name?
8. Influencer Marketing Continues to Grow
Influencer marketing is an important ecommerce trend and will only continue to grow in 2019. It’s also not just for brands who can afford celebrities anymore. There are plenty of industry-specific influencers and micro-influencers that can help your ecommerce business reach more potential customers and grow. The key is to find influencers in your niche who are a good fit and to build a mutually beneficial relationship with them to responsibly recommend your products to their followers.
The way customers shop and the technology they use to do it is always evolving. It’s imperative for ecommerce companies to keep up in order to meet customer expectations. If any of these important ecommerce trends of 2019 are missing from your current strategy, it could be worthwhile to add them and test out what works best for your brand.