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Ecommerce Trends to Watch in 2018

Ecommerce Trends

Ecommerce TrendsOne of the most intriguing ecommerce trends to watch in the coming year is “voice shopping.” Amazon and Google are accelerating the adoption of home assistants/speakers that let users interact with them and order items they need to purchase by simply uttering a command. Among the major voice technologies that are powering all kinds of devices (including automobiles) are Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana.

Facebook is also looking to get in on the action with its own hardware device code-named Portal, according to a report from Cheddar.

If you’re a micro seller that relies on marketplaces to generate sales, you’re counting on those platforms to provide state-of-the-art features so you aren’t left behind. Likewise, if you have your own website, you’re counting on the ecommerce platform to provide such features.

While ecommerce marketplaces and platforms were able to adapt to mobile, social, and local shopping, they may have more difficulties adapting to voice shopping. Amazon has a significant advantage in this area, but it’s not clear to what degree voice-shopping through Alexa will help its third-party merchants – even those using FBA – especially in the early days. But we expect services to use “Alexa Skills” to integrate voice shopping into ecommerce platforms. The biggest challenge for sellers: optimizing listings for voice shopping.

We took a look at some articles that identify ecommerce trends to watch in 2018 to see what else is on the table.

AdWeek’s list of ecommerce trends:

1) You, yourself and the quest to find out your every need (personalization, in part through Artificial Intelligence)
2) More pop-up retail shops and a better retail experience
3) Say hello to voice shopping
4) The shopping experience gets an augmented reality upgrade
5) The year of diversity is finally here

Read the fulltext article on AdWeek.

eBay Partner Network (affiliate program) list of ecommerce trends:

1) It’s business – and it’s definitely personal. (“Thanks to data segmentation, artificial intelligence and automation, among other advances, it’s getting easier and more affordable to personalize your visitors’ experience with your site and other digital interactions.”)
2) Voice search is no longer just talk – and it’s crucial to your SEO.
3) Make mobile your go-to.
4) Viva video! (“Experts predict that as much as 82% of online content by 2020 will be video.”)

Read the fulltext article on the eBay Partner Network blog.

Econsultancy, which polled experts to create its list:

1) Better delivery & distribution
2) Reliance on smart tech
3) Investment in smarter exit intent
4) Bigger mobile spend
5) Luxury retail will continue to gain ground
6) All-round user experience

Read the fulltext article on Econsultancy.

Better delivery and distribution would be welcomed by merchants. We’ve seen Amazon exploiting the gig economy with its Amazon Flex “Uber”-like program (its vision of delivery by drones still seems unlikely to come to fruition in the US in the coming year). But the jury is still out on whether Flex is an improvement or not.

Curious what your package might go through if delivered by a contract freelancer rather than a fulltime delivery driver or postal carrier? Check out this Geekwire story, “I was an Amazon delivery driver: What it’s like to work in the tech giant’s citizen package brigade.”

“Keyless entry” home delivery is another trend that surfaced this year with services from Amazon and Walmart, which are stepping over each other to win shoppers’ hearts and wallets. Porch thievery is growing, but giving delivery drivers access to your front door may be equally troubling – 2018 will certainly be interesting.

eBay mentioned video in its trends list, which may be underestimated by some but not by Amazon, which owns video-platform Twitch. In a Twitter thread about Amazon’s affiliate-powered influencer program, entrepreneur Alex Adelman wrote, “If I were in the business of selling products via video, I would invest time & resources into building up a following on Twitch” – which may be good advice for certain types of sellers.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin continue to make headlines, and it will be interesting to see if 2018 brings them any closer to being ready for prime time.

When it comes to payments, there’s something looming that has the potential to have a much greater impact on some sellers than Bitcoin: eBay may insert itself into transactions in a much more intrusive way than it ever has in the past. This will have major ramifications for sellers, but it won’t happen overnight – see this recent blog post for details.

Politics and regulation are also likely to impact sellers in 2018. The tax bill that passed before Christmas will lower taxes for many in 2018 while also changing the health care mandate. President Trump recently suggested on Twitter that the USPS is undercharging Amazon and should raise postage rates. But if 2017 taught us anything, it’s that legislative changes are difficult to predict.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.