eCommerce Trends of 2018
Personalization is taking over in business across the board, not just eCommerce. However, with eCommerce its easy for businesses to identify more about you, what you have bought and personalize the experience to you based on what they know about you. Major sites like Amazon and Walmart are far ahead here because they have so much data and information about their customers as well as AI tools to personalize the experience.
Personalization via platforms like Nosto and other recommendation engines will certainly strengthen in 2018 and beyond. If you are not thinking about personalization in someway in 2018, you will fall behind the 8 ball sooner than later.
B2B & B2C Merge
B2B and B2C have historically been very very different business models. In many ways that is still true today, however we are starting to see them converge more and more. A good example is how Amazon merged its B2B business into the same site, so now you can convert a personal account to a business one. Amazon is now able to handle both B2B and B2C from the same account.
Businesses will need to start making their B2B experience more like B2C and its also possible that consumers may want to order in bulk to save money, so both methods could apply to each other in both directions.
I think the companies that start to figure out that these two types of customers are converging more than they have in previous times, will win in the long run. B2B customers want ease of use to save time, so if its hard to purchase, they will abandon and find a B2C-like place to buy.
Single Page Applications Emerge In Larger Numbers
Speed is the game. Decoupling the frontend from the backend with React, Vue or Angular has been popular for major tech companies that can afford the best engineers. eCommerce has lagged behind and most companies build on things like Magento, Shopify, etc that is platform specific.
We are seeing the emergence of more single page apps integrated with eCommerce platforms so that there are faster page load times, and more control over the frontend experience.
Cloud Take Over
The speed and cost savings we get with AWS are insane. We are able to offer support service and faster speeds and dedicated services at lower rates than competitors not offering AWS servers.
If you are not taking advantage of AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, etc you are really missing the boat in 2018. If you buy reserved instances you save even more money than the already insane savings per server compared to other traditional offerings. I think eCommerce sites that have not moved to the cloud via platforms like Shopify or AWS with Magento are going to really fall behind the competitors who do.
Machine Learning & AI
Machine learning and AI have been a buzz word for a while. However, they can be used for many amazing purposes such as fraud detection, fulfillment, inventory reallocation, pricing, recommendations, and many more features relating to eCommerce.
Amazon and other major eCommerce players are far ahead with this. Smaller players can catch up by leveraging platforms that offer AI via search, marketing, fraud detection, etc and much more.
Let’s be honest, if your selling basic products that aren’t unique to your brand, you are going to have a tough time competing against Amazon. Custom products are a great way to be unique and offer something no one else does. Major companies like Nike have figured this out but smaller companies are beginning to learn too. You can also bundle or make custom kits so that you can turn normal products into more customized products with little effort.
I think you will more sites with incredible product customization capabilities emerge in 2018 and beyond.
Subscription has been big time for a while now and many companies have already taken this public like Hello Fresh and Blue Apron. However, I still think there are a lot of creative ways to improve upon this or create new business models here.
I think the B2B subscription space is very untapped and a huge place for innovation. There are many things we order consistently and there is not a great cheap B2B place to go other than Amazon which still isn’t designed that well for B2B.
Marketplaces are taking over…period.
The vast majority of online sales in the B2C space and even many in the B2B are going through places like Walmart, Amazon, etc where anyone can list products. I think there are two plays here…one is to go omnichannel and sell via your website, on marketplaces, in store, and everyone you can with seamless integrations so that inventory and customers are tracked properly.
The other is to build your own niche marketplace. There are technologies to do this so it’s not crazy expensive to build, and it’s doable to capitalize on a niche like toys, sports, or some other niche.
Direct to Consumer:
The traditional stores and old school middleman are dying. Amazon is the new king of D2C. Brands are realizing that they can’t rely on their traditional retailers to build their business and are going direct to consumer. We are seeing brands take control of the consumer relationship as well as sell directly to Amazon and online marketplaces so that they are in control of the product going to the consumer.
In-Store Isn’t Dead:
Although in-store sales are declining, it’s still the vast majority of sales. The winners are the businesses that figure out how to best integrate online with in-store experiences. Digital and physical can be intertwined and the companies that have good pick up in store models or other in-store add-ons like extra services will win in 2018 and beyond.