The E-commerce industry continues to evolve at a mind-boggling pace, from new ways to market your product to new technological innovations and strategies. It is important to stay up to date with the latest innovations and trends otherwise you risk being left behind the competition.

Here are the top 5 trends that will disrupt the E-commerce space in 2018.

1. Augmented and Virtual Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are blurring the lines between digital and physical. For online retailers, AR and VR provide customers the opportunity to experience a particular product before purchasing it.

So what is the difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality? Augmented reality is a  technology that presents an interactive experience of a real-world environment where the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated graphics.

The most popular example of this “Pokemon Go” a game which allowed you to catch Pokemon in the “real world” through computerised graphics on your smartphone.

This technology is seriously powerful for E-commerce businesses. AR offers a way to enhance a customers purchase decision by providing an experience that previously only a physical store would have been able to provide. An example of AR in action is Total Immersion, which provides 3D visualisation technology for furniture and homeware brands all around the world. These augmented graphics are true to size which allow customers to make better visual purchasing decisions. Virtual Reality (VR) is an interactive computer generated experience which takes place in a simulated environment. Virtual Reality allows customers to see products in a realistic real-world environment. Businesses use VR in many different ways, for example,  VR is used to; offer tours of houses before they are built, virtual fashion shows and 360-degree tour tasters for tourists looking to visit particular places around the world.

2. The Rise of M-Commerce

M-Commerce is huge and it is only getting bigger. Not only are shoppers browsing on their smartphones but they are purchasing too. Purchases on mobile increased by 58% in 2017 and what is interesting is that purchases on desktops have decreased by 11% over the same period. Perhaps we are starting to see a shift toward mobile, becoming the preferred purchase method for online products. According to Australia Post, 1 in 5 online purchases is made using mobile devices.  So make sure your E-commerce site is mobile friendly.

3. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

One of the main drawing cards for online shopping is convenience. The ability to buy anything from anywhere at any time is as convenient as it gets. So customers are expecting a purchase experience to match. One way to offer convenience to your customers is through BNPL payment solutions. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), is a digital service that makes it possible to buy a product immediately and pay in installments. (Often 4 fortnightly payments).

Services such as AfterPay and ZipPay are gaining momentum both online and in bricks and mortar stores. According to Australia Post BNPL payments accounted for 7.7% of total online goods spend in 2017.

Despite the high service fees, BNPL is essential for online stores. Services such as Afterpay provide peace of mind not only for customers but also for the vendor. AfterPay pays the vendor immediately and assumes all end-customer non-payment risk for every single transaction. Which means the vendor has zero fraud or credit risk should a customer opt to use AfterPay.

4. PopUps

In 2019 popup stores are going to be popping up everywhere. (pardon the pun) the great thing about popups is that they incredibly flexible, cheap to run and event driven. Because of this brands both big and small are joining the temporary retail bandwagon. Big brands can enjoy strong short term sales which are generated by both the excitement/hype of the popup event as well as “limited time” drawcard a pop up store creates. For small brands or even e-commerce stores just starting out, popup stores allow you to increase your brand awareness as well as test the feasibility of your products/business while creating an offline brand experience that leaves customers wanting more.

The demand for popups isn’t only coming from customers and businesses but also from landowners and city councils who are looking to reactivate retail spaces which have been emptied. Popupshopup is an Australian business looking to connect e-commerce brands with empty retail spaces in high foot traffic zones. Solving a huge problem for landlords in an uncertain rental market and giving the ability to small e-commerce brands to run their own popup store in an affordable and popular location.

5. OmniChannel Retailing

We have spoken about omnichannel retailing quite a bit on this blog. That’s because we firmly believe this is where the future of retail is heading. Australia’s retail landscape is shifting from a single channel approach to selling, whether it is on or offline to a combination of the two.
Omnichannel retail is the ability to deliver a seamless and consistent retail experience across multiple channels while factoring in the different devices that consumers are using to interact with your business.

We are seeing this shift everywhere around the world, especially in China and Japan where technology plays a huge part in how physical stores operate.  In Australia, we are now beginning to see the start of this change with the introduction of virtual kiosks but for the most part, a lot of stores are still run with a single channel approach to retailing.

Which one of these trends are you going to implement in your e-commerce business? Are there any we missed out. Let us know on our Facebook page.

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