Trust issues, top-notch omnichannel personalization, expensive advertising with waning results, complicated search requirements, robots, competitors out the wazoo, and more—ecommerce operators in 2019 will certainly have their work cut out for them.
Trust Issues are Real
It may be hard to believe, but when you step outside the ecommerce bubble in which you work, there are still plenty of people who have trouble trusting online shops.
And who could blame them? Even as recently as 2017, online fraud rose nearly 6 percent from the year before. According to a study by Baymard, about 1 in 5 shoppers who abandon the checkout process do so because they don’t feel secure entering their payment information. On the bright side, the same study found that a security badge on the checkout page can inspire trust in consumers.
Trust us, overcoming trust issues is worth it for retailers. While 82 percent of consumers won’t buy from brands they don’t believe will protect their data, 75 percent will share personal data with brands they trust and 63 percent will buy from a company they consider to be “authentic.”
Omnichannel Competitors Will Continue to Pull Ahead
In a year-long study of nearly 50 thousand shoppers, 20 percent reported only shopping in-store while 7 percent shopped online-only. However, a whopping 73 percent of shoppers used multiple physical and digital channels.
In addition, omnichannel shoppers spend 4 percent more on every in-store shopping trip and 10 percent more online. And companies with omnichannel retail strategies retain an average of nearly 90 of their customers while those with poor omnichannel efforts only hold on to 33 percent of their shoppers.
While omnichannel ecommerce has obvious benefits, it also carries with it a huge responsibility—keeping prices, descriptions, availability, shipping information, and dozens of other details consistent everywhere from your webshop to Google Shopping to Instagram to your storefront. Seriously, that level of data upkeep is a full-time job!
If you don’t have access to automated product information management software or an army of ecommerce managers, this challenge could sink you in 2019.
Consumers Crave Personalized Shopping Experiences
It’s not enough to just be present on different shopping outlets—consumers are growing accustomed to personalization that retail giants like Amazon are able to deliver.
Personalization is the capability to understand where a shopper is, where they have been, and what they might need next no matter where they are in their on- or off-line shopping journey. Sound complicated? You’re damn right it is!
While 80 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase from a brand that offers a personalized experience, only 2 percent of marketers report their company has all their channels personalized.
Personalization is tough; personalization at an omnichannel level is going to be a huge challenge for most ecommerce companies and online retailers in 2019.
Digital Advertising is Getting Pricier
The heyday of cheap digital advertising is coming to a close as advertisers realize the power they have in an increasingly-online market.
A 2017 Adobe Digital Insights report found that the cost of digital advertisingis up 12 percent on average and continues to grow five times faster than inflation. That means each dollar you spend on advertising in 2019 and beyond might not have nearly the impact it did in the past.
Influencer Marketing Costs Will Rise While Results Remain Stagnant
Thanks to ever-changing algorithms that make it harder and harder for sponsored content to gain traction on social media, influencers are charging as much as 25 percent more so they themselves can afford to get their posts in front of more eyeballs. Some are even branching out into additional platforms, which may very well dilute their results.
In addition, influencers who have been able to keep engagement rates high are well aware of their new-found leverage and are wielding it over brands who are willing to pay.
Competition Has Reached an All-Time High
With the barrier to entry at an all-time low, competition is at an all-time high. Aside from the small and medium-sized businesses that are moving into online retail thanks to dropshipping and out-of-the-box ecommerce websites, marketplaces loom large.
Over half of consumers start their shopping journey on Amazon. It was the most popular online store in 2016 with net sales reaching 136 billion dollars.
Marketplaces offer an abundance of options, smart personalization, and fast shipping.
Search Just Keeps Getting More Complicated
Today, SEO goes so much deeper than just a few keywords here and there.
In 2019, Google will prioritize user experience. That means the best-performing pages, not the ones with the best keyword optimization, will rank the highest on the search engine. In addition, mobile-optimized websites will dominate thanks to mobile-first indexing. Google will be looking at the mobile version of a website before anything else when it comes time to determine search engine result rankings. If you aren’t focusing on your mobile experience, expect your site rank and organic traffic to drop.
Then there’s voice search! Comscore found that more than half of all searches will be conducted via voice-activated assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Home, and more by 2020. And Google is taking note‚—prioritize content that’s optimized for voice search in 2019.
AI-Powered Customer Service Will Practically Be Required to Scale
Though easy to overlook, customer service is a huge element in growing retention, reducing returns, and generating more revenue. In fact, 42 percent of retail customers return to a store because of good customer service while 52 percent never come back if the service is bad. Customer service is key, but how’s an ecommerce business supposed to scale while still providing thoughtful, personal customer service?
In 2019, AI-enabled chatbots will help ecommerce businesses of any size scale by qualifying leads, providing recommendations, answering questions, closing deals, and doing it all while collecting valuable consumer data. In 2020, it’s predicted that 85 percent of customer interactions will happen without human intervention. Any company who can’t catch up with AI-powered customer service soon will likely be left in the dust.
Convenient Delivery Will Become a Key Differentiator
With big retailers already exploring local contractors, self-driving cars, and drones to deliver online orders, the meaning of “convenient delivery” is getting wilder than we ever could have imagined. In 2019, it’s safe to say the consumer appetite for quick turnaround, easy pick-up, and flexible shipping options will only grow larger.
The Relationship Between In-Store and Online Retail Will Get Even More Complex
For ecommerce companies who have brick-and-mortar shops they don’t plan to shutter in 2019, operations will need to become a lot more complex in order to stay above water.
While some brands have had luck leveraging physical locations as showrooms and customer service centers, it isn’t simple. If you choose to keep your stores open, you must consider the high overhead costs, the challenge of planning multichannel inventory accurately, and how to develop a complete retail ecosystem that provides a consistent experience for a consumer who shops in-store, online, and via social media during the course of a single transaction.
According to Brian Walker, leading retail analyst and founder of Retail Doctor, striking the balance between providing an excellent in-store experience and competitive online offers will test retailers in 2019.
In 2019, Agile Ecommerce Companies and Online Retailers Will Thrive
Ecommerce companies and online retailers who are able to adapt to meet or at least try to solve these challenges will be the ones who make it through 2019. And, while it certainly won’t be easy, it certainly will be worth it.
Around the world, ecommerce revenue reached nearly $2,300 billion in 2018. Ecommerce, with all its growing pains, is here to stay.!