In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and is slated to continue growing exponentially. Keeping your finger on the pulse of e-commerce trends in 2019 is crucial to analyzing developments in the market. With new developments, you have countless new ways to reach your target customers, drive innovation and create new opportunities to grow your business in 2019. Our team here at Parcel Perform has examined some of the hottest B2B e-commerce trends in 2019 and compiled them below for you to leverage on and get ready to boost your e-commerce business in the new year.
1. Chatbots will continue to support customer service needsDid you know approximately 1.4 billion people worldwide use messaging apps and are willing to talk to chatbots? With more than 60% of customers saying they prefer digital self-serve tools like FAQs, websites, apps, and chatbots to answer simple inquiries, the correct use of chatbots will reduce customer service time and improve customer experience. Research from NewVoiceMedia shows customers wait an average of 11 minutes before hanging up – nearly twice as long as 75% of online customers expect it to take (5 minutes). In contrast, chatbots handle customer inquiries significantly faster – with the average wait time to access a chat session being 45 seconds. Key takeaway: Although there’s considerable customer service saving potential with chatbots, building a chatbot can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with coding. Not to worry, platforms like Chatfuel or Botsify that allow you to create simple chatbots for Facebook Messenger via a drag-and-drop interface.
2. Optimizing for multichannel retail will only grow in importance
According to IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Retail 2018 Predictions, 50% of retailers will adopt a retail omnichannel platform by 2019.With customers researching online but buying online or purchase in-store with their order being shipped directly to their house, the distinction between in-store purchasing and online retail is blurred. Having an e-commerce store complements offline business and drives sales to your offline locations even if customers don’t purchase online. The online and offline commerce worlds are converging. Amazon recently opened brick-and-mortar stores in the US and Singapore’s honestbee also opened a cashless grocery store; handling all payments and order fulfilment in-app. Brands are responding to consumer’s expectations. Data from Google suggests 90% of users switch between screens to complete tasks; with an average of three different device combinations each day. Omnichannel retail is hence not a luxury, but a necessity to enhance customer experience and stay competitive in 2019. Companies with an effective omnichannel engagement strategy retain 89% more customers than others.
“Brands need to be nimble, agile and responsive to shopper needs, and they need to deliver seamless, friction-free paths for their shoppers to navigate.”Key takeaway: Building long-term relationships with your customers is key to achieving customer retention success in 2019. To excel at omnichannel retail, all your customer touchpoints from social media, email, messaging to in-app interactions should be opportunities for them to shop. Examine how you can make the transitions between channels seamless as well
3. Voice-assisted search will continue to develop
50 percent of searches will be voice assisted by 2020 ForbesWhich one is easier to do, speak into your device or type out your search query on your mobile keyboard? If you’re pressed for time, perhaps voice search wins out. Moreover, you aren’t the only ones who are eschewing the keyboard in favor for voice searches. With the growth of home voice-controlled assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and smart speakers, voice search is increasingly relevant for the e-commerce dollar. Consider these voice search usage statistics from ConversionXL:
- 41% of all adults now use voice search daily.
- 50% of voice-controlled device owners have made a purchase with one in the past year.
- Voice search usage is highest among affluent, well-educated consumers.
- Voice shopping is projected to grow to $40 billion annually by 2022—a 20-fold increase.
4. Data will redefine personalized customer experiencesProviding personalized experiences is a hot topic with customers and retailers alike. As retailers collect data from their customers, more customers now expect them to create a more personalized, streamlined experience – with proactive responses and product recommendations based on past search or buying history even before customers input any search. When executed expertly, data-driven e-commerce enhances customer satisfaction. Consumers want more relevancy in their online shopping experiences. Research from Infosys reveals 31% of surveyed consumers want more personalized shopping experiences than what it currently is. Your customers expect personalized offers to help them find products specific to their interests. Also, they’re willing to give away their data for personalized product recommendations or even offers and discounts based on items they previously purchased. Shoppers are 50% more likely to buy if the shopping experience is personalized. Key takeaway: Tapping on your customer data to supply them with more specific offers isn’t insidious, as long as done tastefully. Your customers welcome it. Some ideas to get started:
- Monitoring user search queries to suggest associated or similar products to them over time while ensuring recommendations appear at the correct stages of the customer journey.
- Sending them targeted cart abandonment emails versus generic marketing emails
5. Similarly, personalized customer experiences after checkout will continue to drive loyalty and repeat purchases.
“After a customer clicks ‘buy,’ they enter a phase of uncertainty, where they are unsure whether their product will arrive on time or whether it will appear in one piece,” Retailers that provide the right clues and reassurances can turn this period into a powerful moment of trust for the brand.” Jeffrey Neville, Senior Vice President, and Practice Lead, BRP ConsultingAttracting new customers, especially during the holiday season is just the first step. How can you nurture these budding relationships into long-term customers and encourage repeat purchases? Get the post-purchase experience right. Key takeaway: Keep your customers proactively updated throughout the entire delivery journey; from pick up to processing and delivery with accessible email notifications or a natural point for customers to see parcel updates like a branded tracking page.
6. E-commerce shipping will become faster as consumers get more impatient about delivery timesA recent study by Alix Partners on US shoppers found the maximum acceptable delivery time shoppers accept has decreased over the years. Shoppers previously allowed a maximum delivery time of 4.5 days, down from 5.5 days in a similar 2012 study. Moreover, this expectation continues to show across the world. A global UPS survey reveals that in Asia, Mexico and Brazil, consumers expect to be able to place orders later in the day and still be eligible for next-day delivery. They’re also willing to wait an average of 11 days before they abandon their cart Speedy delivery is a factor to drive sales and customer loyalty. With customers more likely to make online purchases if same-day delivery was an option, or willing to pay more for same-day delivery; retailers and delivery partners have responded by introducing same-day delivery options. We expect shipping times to either decrease further or more delivery options to be introduced to cater to different consumer needs. Retailers now cannot stop at offering a single delivery scheme to all their customers. They now need to meet shopper expectations that can vary across geographies or product categories. Key takeaway: Consider this: the same customers who shop at larger retailers also shop at smaller, independent retailers. It won’t be a stretch to say that they’ve come to expect a similar delivery experience regardless of where they shop online. You’re also competing with the immediate, take-it-home convenience of brick and mortar stores. Therefore, even if you can’t offer same-day-shipping, you need to at least communicate your stipulated delivery times and options on your e-commerce site to ensure full delivery transparency for your customers.
In closing: our view of e-commerce trends in 2019The e-commerce industry is changing each year and retailers need to stay updated with current customer expectations and technological developments. This year, we foresee developments in how customers interpret omnichannel retail, the use of data or technology to deliver better customer experiences. Emerging channels like chatbots and voice search will continue growing as viable channels for merchants to consider in their business strategy. Get ready for the new year by examining some of the critical e-commerce trends in 2019. Our Parcel Perform team stands ready to support you while you grow your e-commerce business and enhance your customer experience in the year to come! Are there any key developments or trends you’re especially excited about in 2019? Please share them with us here! Get started with delivering the post-purchase experience your customers want to have. Download our free whitepaper and get our best customer experience strategies delivered to your inbox!
Joshua is the Marketing Manager at Parcel Perform. He loves technology and a good book. Outside of e-commerce and Parcel Perform, you can find him in the kitchen, gym or yoga studio.