Every year, eCommerce blogs explode with posts about eCommerce trends expected for the upcoming year. However, what good are they if we can’t capitalize on these trends to grow our businesses? As any eCommerce business owner will agree, you need to be ready to adapt to the changing market and willing to put your money where your mouth is.

Sure, not every trend will be affordable for most of us to implement in 2019. However, each of these tech and market advances can teach us where the industry is going and help us set revenue-driving goals for the coming year. Plus, as a lot of them aren’t brand-new, it also gives us the last opportunity to look at directions we need to go in order to keep up.

The trick is to pick the mainstream trend that would best suit your niche and market, and start there. For instance, if you’re selling health food products, throwing money into an augmented reality app wouldn’t make good business sense this year. However, using AI-enhanced chatbots that help offer top-of-the-line customer service and health hacks, would.

So what are these 2019 eCommerce trends everyone is talking about and how do you translate them to your niche? We’ve got the answers.

eCommerce Trend 1: Enhanced Shipping Options

No, enhanced shipping isn’t new, but it just got more accessible. Same-day delivery used to be reserved for the big eCommerce brands… or, to be fair: Amazon. However, with the rise of courier-run fulfillment services such as FedEx or UPS over the last couple of years, even the smallest (newest) of eCommerce brands are able to compete with Amazon-like fulfillment.

According to one report, as many as 65% of retailers will provide same-day delivery services in 2019, with the percentage of shoppers willing to pay extra for same-day convenience up to 61%. You only have to look at year-on-year growth of US warehouse employment rates to see the increase in both internal and third-party logistic services.

US warehouse employment rates

[Image Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics]

And we can thank Amazon Prime for the fact that two-day shipping has become the new norm, as well as the growing trend to choose fast delivery over free delivery.

This means that if you haven’t looked at ways to improve your fulfillment and distribution, you stand the risk of falling much further behind your competitors this year.

What’s the best way to offer enhanced shipping options in terms of global delivery?

How to Implement Enhanced Shipping for Your eCommerce Brand

With third-party fulfillment services. Not only does this enable you to scale your eCommerce business without the high cost of building global infrastructure and warehousing, but it allows you to cash in on their enhanced shipping technology and bulk courier rates.

To keep up-to-date with enhanced shipping options and technologies without huge infrastructure outlays, consider using third-party fulfillment options. To help you choose the right one for your business, niche and market, visit our 2019 Best Fulfillment Services and Companies post.

eCommerce Trend 2: Continued Rise of AI Tech

A couple of years ago AI was something that the big tech companies were playing around with. But now it is directly driving eCommerce technology as well as providing AI analytic tools that provide unprecedented potential shopper tracking. From virtual fashion advisors such as Amazon’s Echo Look – a new voice-activated selfie camera that enables Alexa to help you pick an outfit – to Starbucks chatbot My Starbucks Barista, the future is truly here.

But how do eCommerce stores cash in on the rise of AI tech when they don’t have the million-dollar budget to build their own versions of Google Home or Alexa? Much easier than you think!

With the growth of AI comes the growth of AI analytic tools in 2019. Tools that will be able to track potential shoppers’ product interactions on your website to help you map data to increase conversions. For example: tapping into data of the specific images a customer engaged with and how long and in what way they engaged, designed to help you optimize your images.

How to Implement AI Technologies for Your eCommerce Brand

There are many tools (and ways) that enable you to take advantage of growing AI trends within the eCommerce industry. This includes product management and marketing insight-gathering tools that allow you to:

  • Use or create AI-enabled chatbots to personalize your customer service
  • Deploy AI-enabled email marketing tools (such as Optimail) that take segmentation to a whole new level
  • Harness the power of AI-enabled intelligent analysis (such as Nudge) for a more in-depth understanding of your customer data
  • Automate your content distribution with AI-enabled post-creating software (such as Rocco) that mimics human language

Ultimately, AI-enabled apps will help you understand your shopper’s entire journey, which means smarter shopping insights – another 2019 eCommerce trend. As well as enabling you to create your own ‘personal assistant’ through chatbot technology, which enables more personalized customer service at every stage of the sales funnel.

eCommerce Trend 3: Product Visualization with Augmented Reality

Using AR (augmented reality) is not new to 2019; in fact, it’s been around for some time in the eCommerce world. In 2017 Sephora launched their Virtual Artist app, which enables users to ‘try on’ makeup virtually from their phone or desktop, and IKEA has been using AR for some time – including their Place app, launched in 2017.

But how can you use augmentation to help your business stand out this year? We will give you a hint: it does NOT mean you need to hire a bunch of app developers.

How to Implement Augmented Reality Tech for Your eCommerce Brand

At the end of last year, Shopify jumped onto the AR train and launched Shopify AR for small business, making augmented reality far more accessible to eCommerce business.

If you are feeling particularly adventurous and have the budget, you can build an augmented reality app for your business using tools like Apple’s ARKit, Vuforia, Wikitude, Industry and more.

eCommerce Trend 4: Voice Search Optimization

Voice search isn’t new; in fact, it’s been four years since it made eCommerce trend headlines. So why mention it now? Fast-forward to 2019, it’s gone mainstream. It’s no longer something that big retail brands are investing in; it’s a trend that will separate you from your competitors this year. Because if you’re not optimizing for voice search, you’re missing out on a lot of potential shoppers.

Here are some voice search stats to ponder:

  • According to TechCrunch, over 47.3 million Americans have access to smart speakers
  • Comscore reports that by next year, as many as 50% all searches will be voice searches, while Gartner puts that figure at 30%
  • OC&C Strategy Consultants predict voice commerce will reach $40 billion by 2022
  • A report by Technavio says that voice recognition will be a $601 million industry by 2019
  • eMarketer predicts that the number of millennials who use voice-enabled digital assistants will grow to 39.3%

This means if you haven’t already optimized for voice search, you’re falling behind!

How to Implement Voice Search Your eCommerce Brand

To help you generate more site traffic using voice search, here’s SEO guru Neil Patel giving his top three voice search optimization tips.

As you can see, site load time is vital. If you want to compare your store’s speed and other site tech and eCommerce benchmarks, you can use our free benchmarking tool. Benchmark Hero is a free site audit that automatically compares your web store to thousands of larger stores, pinpointing what you can easily do to improve your store.

eCommerce Trend 5: Growing Payment Gateway Options

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of payment options. And it’s not just gateways that are growing in number. With the rise of blockchain technologies and currencies like KODAKCoin for photographers and Musicoin for musicians, cryptocurrencies are also increasingly influencing the eCommerce market. The Kodak example shows us how brands are engaging directly with their niche, creating tools and platforms to help and interact directly with their target market.

Sure, as an eCommerce business you may not have the budget to create your own currency. However, you can keep up with the increasing number of payment gateways and ensure you are able to use the preferred payment method for your niche.

How to Implement More Gateway Options in 2019

Look at the markets you wish to expand into this year and adapt your gateways to ensure you can reach as much of your target market as possible. There are a few top payment gateways to choose from that offer the best location strategies, including Stripe, PayPal Payments Pro, Amazon Net, BrainTree and more.

It’s also important that you keep up-to-date with new niche currency trends like KODAKCoin and Musicoin, to find a way you could later partner or affiliate with these big niche markets. As well as assessing the devices your shoppers shop on, providing more mobile payment gateways in 2019 could be the difference between going into 2020 with the pack or being left in the dust of more tech-savvy eCommerce brands.

eCommerce Trend 6: The Decline of the Middleman

More and more manufacturers are engaging directly with shoppers. This isn’t a new trend, but it is expected to gain momentum in 2019. DTC (direct-to-consumer) trends are great news for eCommerce brands that sell both online and to third-party retailers, as chances are you’re already directly talking to your market. However, this growing trend also serves as a warning to those of you who are third-party sites to manufacturers, as more manufacturers engage directly to customers, the more likely you could

As manufacturers begin to get closer to their end consumer, the number of manufacturers who sell directly to them will increase. Considering profit margin increases and an already established brand name, we foresee many jumping on the bandwagon. To counteract this, you need to make sure your products are marketed as unique and then position your brand not just on what you’re selling, but how you’re selling it.

If you’re dropshipping, make sure you are using fulfillment services that enable you to brand your products and create an awesome unboxing experience for your shoppers. You will also want to keep your finger on the pulse of trending 2019 products and be ready to pivot with the market. Basically, as the saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Here’s a list of the best-selling products this year to get you started.

You also want to ensure that you are listening to and engaging one-on-one with your customers, getting their feedback often. You can do this with surveys, social engagement posts and small email blasts to select shoppers.

eCommerce Trend 7: Growth of Quality Dropshippers

Dropshipping has developed a bit of a bad rap over the last couple of years. Mostly because of low-quality eCommerce stores that hit the market with poorly-built sites, product images and service, all selling the same trending product. However, when done right, dropshipping business can be incredibly lucrative while enabling many people to realize their eCommerce dreams without having to outlay big money on manufacturing and logistics.

In fact, one report from 2018 found that 16.4% of online stores were using dropshipping business models, and they’re not just 7- or 8-figure brands. According to the Wall Street Journal, dropshipping has gone mainstream with brands like Macy’s and Home Depot widened their customer reach with dropshipping.

Even if you make your products, dropshipping is a great way to expand your product list and test the market without the big budget outlays. We suggest finding local suppliers for the products you wish to dropship and contact them. That way you’ll be able to test and validate the quality and make sure their shipping options are better and faster. There a few good apps out there, like Spocket, that will help you connect to US and EU suppliers.

eCommerce Trend 8: 2019, The Year of the Marketplace and Multi-Channel Selling

With the rise of Amazon comes the rise of competitive marketplaces. Specifically, in the last year, we’ve seen the growth of niche marketplaces with the help of companies such as Mirakl, which are helping a variety of brands such as BestBuy build their own marketplaces for their industries. With the rise of marketplaces comes the rise of multi-channel selling. This means that it’s becoming more and more important to put your products in front of your potential shoppers where they are.

When a whopping 50% of online sales are on global marketplaces, it is easy to see why many medium to large eCommerce brands are expanding across channels. So how do you get in on the action?

How to Cash in On Multi-Channel Selling

The rise of marketplaces means more places to sell from a niche perspective as well as affording you the opportunity to sell in more global locations without hefty outlays. This means you can use marketplaces in countries you want to test before committing to logistics, or cash in on the $1.47 trillion revenue. With the help of multi-channel management systems like StoreAutomator, it’s getting easier and easier to sell globally from a variety of channels. But it’s not just online channels you should be considering…

eCommerce Trend 9: The Rise of Personalized Omni Stores

Traditional retail may be dead, but with the rise of omni-stores that sell on- and off-line, retail is making a comeback. There are a lot of eCommerce stores that are already default omni-stores, such as success stories Impact Mouthguards, who sell online as well as directly (in-person) to teams, or Bleacher Creatures who sell online, to retail, and at sports venues. As the brick-and-mortar (B&M) market changes (with the rise of new tech) and eCommerce grows, you will see more and more brands from both spectrums entering the omni-store market.

How to Use Multi-Channel Selling to Your Advantage

You should be thinking outside the box, finding new ways to sell your products and personalizing the customer experience on every level to set yourself apart from the competition. This means using many of the tools we’ve mentioned above, such as AI-driven targeting and other tactics like pop-up shops, wholesale/retail partnerships and social engagement strategies. Use the data you have, to create streams that are unique and specific to your brand and niche. This also means personalizing and adapting your marketing strategies with the help of tools such as Traffic Booster.

Whichever trend you decide to follow, the key is finding and testing strategies specific to your product, market and niche. We also know that to be successful in the eCommerce game, it’s not enough to follow the trends; you need to take growing trends and think how you can make them unique to your brand and stand out from the competition.

With significant tech changes such as ‘snap and shop’ photo shopping (where shoppers will be able to take a photo and then be linked to a place they can buy the product) and other social selling tools expected to pop up by the end of the year, you want to stay in the loop while trying to stay ahead of the curve.

As one of our top merchants said, “When the market zigs, we zag!” Let 2019 be your year to zag, and finally put yourself in the big eCommerce leagues.