In order to discover e-commerce trends that will shape 2018, we sat down with Steven Wu from R&W Media to ask him about his thoughts on the biggest upcoming trends. From the development of personalisation to AI and voice searches, together have composed a complete list of expected trends for you to follow this year.

What are your predictions for e-commerce trends that will shape 2018?

Rise in mobile shoppers

Mobile traffic has been steadily increasing over the last few years. A study shows that by 2020 (we’re not far away from this), there will be 6 billion mobile devices being used around the world. This means retailers can expect 2018 will see a major increase in mobile browsing and consumers will be more comfortable making larger value purchases on the mobile. 

Speedy Delivery

With the convenience of online shopping and purchasing whilst on the train, at work or on the sofa at home, consumers now have higher expectations. Consumers will expect faster delivery options and they want it free or at a cheaper price. This will be challenging for retailers to implement quick turnarounds, easy return policies and in hopes not to sacrifice profit margins.

Voice Purchasing

With emerging technology such as Amazon’s Echo, Google Home and Alexa and Siri, consumers are using these devices to search and make purchases directly with their voice. With Echo, you can now order Dominos pizza and check your order status all through just using your voice.  

In 2018 this will become increasingly popular. Walker Sands’ report – Future of Retail, 19% of consumers made a voice purchase last year. This coming year we can see another 33% of consumers making voice purchases.

Personalisation

Customers want personalised shopping experiences, they don’t want to see what everything else sees. If a male is shopping for clothes, they don’t want to see female products. AI and machine learning should monitor customers’ shopping habits and present products that are best suited for them and are more likely to add to cart.

With the wealth of customer shopping behaviour data, retailers can tailor shopping experiences and create targeted marketing campaigns to best differentiate in a competitive market. We will start to see retailers get better at leveraging customer and behavioural data for a personalised shopping experience.

E-commerce Trends that will shape 2018

What factors should retailers consider when working with voice purchasing?

Search Phrases

Other e-commerce trends that will shape 2018 concern voice searches and voice purchasing.  To start with retailers, they need to ensure their website is voice search friendly. Carrying out a search using voice search assistant or a voice app is different compared to traditional searching using a search engine. For example, consumers using Google when searching may search for ‘mens black jeans’. But when consumers use voice apps, they converse like they are having a conversation with someone, so they would instead say ‘where can I find the best black jeans’.

Consumers tend to use complete sentences and phrases rather than specific terms. Retailers will need to compile a list of long-tail keywords and phrases relevant to their business and products.

Instead of using key terms such as ‘women’s handbags’, think of questions and phrases such as ‘selection of top selling women’s handbags’.

Site Speed

Ensure your website is fast loading. You already know speed plays a major factor in user experience and SEO. Voice search assistance or voice apps will find relevant answers in a matter of seconds. So they need to find information in a very short span of time. If your website isn’t loading quick enough the voice app may pass up your website and move on to a competitor instead.

Structured Data

When searching using voice assistant or voice apps, they don’t list out multiple results based on keywords. So you need to ensure your website provides information easily to these voice apps.

The best way is to use structured data or more commonly known as rich snippets. Using rich snippets helps to highlight important information to voice searches, without having to visit your website, this way they get a closer step to making a decision.

You can use rich snippets to display crucial information including, name, price, rating, brand, stock availability, size and more.

What should retailers do to ensure they keep up with the rise of mobile shoppers?

Mobile shopping exploded in 2017. This is one of the e-commerce trends that will shape 2018 that is set to keep growing and growing, we’ll be seeing mobile purchases overtaking desktop purchases very soon.

Many retailers have transformed their ecommerce store to be mobile friendly. However many of them boost a truly poor mobile shopping experience. How many times have you landed on a site on your mobile and found it slow to load, cumbersome to use, difficult to find and navigate. This really frustrates users and more likely to see an increase in bounce rate, and customers going to a competitor instead.

It’s crucial to optimise the mobile experience to be ease of use and friendly. This includes making reading text to be large and clear (without having to pinch zoom), buttons large enough to be clicked on, clear navigation. Present product information in a clean and simple manner for scanning.

The major point will be on the on-site forms and checkout. The checkout is typically long-winded, with lots of forms to fill out and everyone hates filling out long list of forms on a mobile device. Make sure you reduce the number of form fields that are not necessary and offer express guest checkout option. You can always capture more customer information after the purchase has been placed. Use remembered customer details. So customers don’t have to keep entering the same details again.

Implement fast solutions to help them fill out forms more quickly, such as postcode lookup feature, using mobile payment methods such as Apple Pay. 

What major difference will we see in personalised shopping experiences?

Other e-commerce trends that will shape 2018 concern data and how this data can be used to your advantage. With consumers interacting with multiple digital touch points, so does the amount of data that is becoming increasingly available to retailers. Retailers can now look at gathering and share this data through their omnichannel, to deliver a personalised shopping experience in real time.

Thanks to AI, retailers can move beyond basic personalisation and use real-time shopper profiling including customer’s preferences, location, social activity, purchase history, and behaviour profiling. AI solutions will provide real-time updates, relevant recommendations, to help nudge the shopper in the right direction and influence purchases in a personalised manner.

How does personalised shopping experiences help retailers?

We’ve seen clients who run large ecommerce stores spending hours organising products into specific orders on category pages or setting up related products for thousands of products. This is very labour intensive and is extremely time-consuming.

Implementing personalised shopping experience using AI, has helped reduce the amount of time it takes to organise and debate which products to serve up to customers. Using customer’s shopping history and behaviour habits, AI can automatically suggest relevant related products or direct customers to the right products, without any manual aid from the retailer. It can thus be said that this is expected to be one of the a major e-commerce trends that will shape 2018.

A survey shows, that shoppers would like retailers to know who they are and the previous interactions they have had with the retailers’ website. By offering a personalised shopping experience, customers will be able to find products they’re looking for and more likely to spend and return. This, in turn, helps to increase customer satisfaction and increase profits.

E-commerce Trends that will shape 2018

What role will AI play for retailers in e-commerce trends that will shape 2018?

AI will become more paramount this year than ever before. Consumers will speak into their devices and AI will interpret their commands and execute them. Including searching and purchasing goods.

We’ll start seeing retailers truly take advantage of AI. Retailers will need to start implementing AI technology into their existing channels and sharing that data across all segment of the business, removing the old fashion each sector is a separate channel. By using AI, this wealth of data can be interpreted at scale and provide highly personalised shopping experiences across all channels.

The advantage of AI e-commerce trends that will shape 2018 are:

Recommendation

With AI, knowing who the customer is and taking advantage of historical shopping data, it can serve up relevant products to consumers. 35% of what consumers purchase on Amazon is based on recommendation.

Competitive pricing

Retailers are always in a competitive market and consumers are always looking for the best deal and pricing. AI can provide consumers competitive pricing, offering deals and discounts to specific customers based on their shopping history and other factors.

Security

Security is a major part of shopping, especially in ecommerce. Fraud is something many retailers encounter. Manually trying to spot fraud or find security flaws will be difficult. With AI, security flaws can be found more easily and at a larger scale and quickly prevent these loopholes from happening.

Bespoke shopping experience

Key to successfully shopping experience for customers is providing a personalised bespoke shopping experience, just like you would get at a physical store with an assistant. AI will know who the customer is, where they came from, what they’re looking for and their interest, and allow accurate products to be displayed.

To sum up

There are many e-commerce trends that will shape 2018. We have mentioned a couple of these trends that are expected to grow quickly the coming year according to Steven Wu, Technical Director at R & W Media. Keeping up with innovation gives you a great competitive advantage. Consider including these trends this year to keep up with the quick development of the e-commerce industry.