Constant change is fact of life in the e-commerce landscape. Drones are delivering packets, the delivery span has come down to same-day, online and offline shopping have merged to form omnichannel commerce, and much more. In 2019, the e-commerce landscape will further shift from where it is now.
Retailers need to know what trends will dominate in the coming year and add strategies and technologies to their toolkit to keep up. Here are the top five e-commerce trends for 2019 that you should know:
Gartner says, “By 2020, 25 Percent of Customer Service Operations Will Use Virtual Customer Assistants.” Right now, we see an increase in AI adoption at all levels of operations. In fact, chatbots are cited as the most popular use case for artificial intelligence and machine learning in e-commerce.
From tracking order statuses to helping customers process returns faster, retailers can use chatbots in myriad forms. Amazon and Alibaba have already integrated chatbots into their customer service. They help the retailers process millions of customer queries quickly using canned responses. Needless to say, it helps cut down costs as well as sustain customer service efficiency, even when order volumes surge higher.
Mobile wallets have already launched a cashless revolution that has positively influenced all e-commerce sectors – right from online shopping to on-demand services. Rampant adoption of mobile devices and the need for customer convenience are two factors that have propelled the growth story of mobile wallets. A study by Deloitte Switzerland found that three major benefits – not having to carry a wallet or cash, time-saving and not having to carry loose change – are prime motivators of using mobile payments.
It is expected that In 2019, digital wallets will increase in usage. Retailers are already trying to make customers use more of their in-house digital wallets by incentivizing payments. It is no surprise that the transaction value of mobile payment apps will touch $14 Trillion by 2022 (Source).
More than 60% of customers are willing to share information about products that they like for personalized offers. But not all customers support the view of their personal preferences and personal information going into the hands of retailers. Also, the recent GDPR rollout also makes it mandatory for retailers to be transparent of the data they collect and the purposes for which they employ it.
All this trickles down to the level of personalization that retailers would be able to provide. As Forrester retail analyst Sucharita Kodali said at Innovation Stage at NRF 2019, “..it is incredibly important to continue collecting data in a way that is useful for retailers.” In the days to come, e-commerce retailers may not be hungry to collect all customer data that they can get their hands on. Instead, there will be focused data collection that helps them deliver personalized offerings without violating data protection regulations.
E-commerce retailers will have to go the extra mile in 2019 to differentiate themselves amidst a crowd of competitors. Customer experience is the best investment to attain that ‘different’ status. Every major brand has taken that route to pitch their own stake in crowded and competitive markets. If you think about it, the entire customer journey of making a purchase is an emotional process.
The customer wants to feel in control as well as engaged right from the discovery to the delivery stage. Their needs are no longer restricted to a new product, a fancy new feature or deep discounts. Experiences that make the entire purchase process memorable is what can help retailers sell more. In fact, as per the Customers 2020 study by Walker, a customer experience consulting firm, “Customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator by the year 2020.”
Nike – The sportswear brand understands this better than anyone else. The five-story 55,000 square foot store in NYC is a living proof of how customer experience can turn customers into raving fans. At the store, customers can walk in, try on Nike products in actual sports settings such as a mini indoor basketball court, a small soccer enclosure, a shoe bar to customize Nike Air shoes, and so on. The mere act of hanging out at the store can give customers a great experience, leading to higher brand loyalty.
Until now, pricing has remained a strong force that can push or pull the customer’s decision. In the days to come it is not going to fade away, but, would undergo a significant change. In 2019 and the years to follow, customers would be more influenced by factors that go beyond the pricing of a product.
What will ensue is an age of conscious and activist customers who will weigh the business practices, authenticity and other virtues of a brand before buying from it. They will not be swayed by marketing speak alone that focuses only on selling.
Gucci – The globally renowned fashion label had announced in 2017 that it will go fur free from 2018. The company also signed a Fur Free Alliance, which makes it a part of a global community that combats exploitation and killing of animals for fur. Needless to say, this would appear right in the eyes of millennial customers whose values are more inclined towards environmental sustainability.
The future does not happen overnight. The new retail world of 2019 will be shaped by several trends, some of which were discussed above. Retailers must align their sales and customer service strategies to these trends to stay on top of e-commerce game.
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