There have been many eCommerce trends to follow since the emergence of online shopping and buying goods and services on the Internet has become one of the most popular online activities worldwide. In the US, nearly 70% of the adult population engage in eCommerce, which is practically as common as watching online videos or using social networks. Recent projections from Statista state that global eCommerce will grow about 20% in 2019, reaching an astounding $3.5 trillion in retail sales.
The booming eCommerce sector can be attributed to the shift in buying preferences from younger generational buyers as the majority of millennials opt to shop online rather than in- stores. Modern eCommerce websites offer in-depth product information, explanatory videos, live chats, and customer reviews to help online visitors make the best buying decision. B2B eCommerce is taking on the same transition path towards facilitating online sales and self-service capabilities for the corporate buyer.
To take advantage of the global adoption in eCommerce technology, it is important to keep up with the latest eCommerce trends. We offer 5 key eCommerce trends to be aware of in 2019.
1. Omni-channel retailing
Omni-channel retailing refers to establishing a strong footprint of your brand in different online channels in addition to your brick-and-mortar presence. This can include selling on an eCommerce store, social platforms, and online marketplaces. Buyers today are increasingly more likely to choose a brand with a well-voiced outreach on social platforms, such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. With over 70% of Internet users being social media users, this channel has the greatest potential for building your brand awareness and driving sales.
However, it is important to run your omni-channel marketing in a balanced manner so that different parts of your eCommerce network offer consistent buying experiences. Make sure your eCommerce store is up to par with your eye-catching ads on Instagram to maximize the conversion rate. One thing to consider is that nearly 90% of shoppers ranked detailed content as being extremely important during the purchasing process. In addition, 38% of respondents in another study said they would leave a website if they found the layout unattractive.
In fact, analyst firm Frost & Sullivan has reported that only 26% of companies have successfully mastered their B2B eCommerce channel. It is a weak number given that the B2B eCommerce market is now dwarfing that of B2C and holds over two-thirds of the total eCommerce market. To up their game in B2B eCommerce, companies need to acknowledge that B2B customers have different eCommerce needs and address those needs with mission-specific B2B eCommerce solutions.
2. Continued customer engagement
Customer engagement that goes beyond the point of purchase will continue to be a leading eCommerce trend in 2019. This is well justified given that it is five to seven times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. The most effective strategies for customer retention include advertising, email marketing, content marketing, loyalty apps, and gathering customer feedback.
Advertising will continue to increase but the exact profile of advertising channels will differ depending on your product category, B2C / B2B orientation, and target audience. For example, if you are relying on social media recommenders for promotion, a 2014 report from McKinsey on social media influence demonstrated how disproportionate their influence may be: the shoes and clothing industry saw that the top 5 percent of recommenders accounted for 45 percent of the total social influence generated.
Email marketing remains a reliable and ROI-proven tactic for almost any segment of eCommerce. One research suggests that email marketing stands above any other digital marketing strategy in terms of ROI. When integrated with an eCommerce web store, email marketing enables your business to connect with your customers and provide product recommendations, personal offerings/promotions, product retargeting messages, abandoned cart notifications, and more.
Content marketing and SEO are additional marketing efforts for driving traffic to your website, improving the buying experience, and winning customers’ loyalty. Detailed content is extremely important for 90% of shoppers, but what’s more interesting is 73% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if they can first watch a video.
Loyalty apps are still underutilized as estimates suggest that around 40% of retailers offer them to their customers. Mobile apps offer convenience, speed, and a variety of methods for continued customer engagement, such as rewards, gamification techniques, in-store notifications, and others. In B2B, mobile apps play an equally important role by enabling a smooth user experience for repeat customers as well as enabling new marketing mediums for sellers.
3. B2B eCommerce solutions
B2B eCommerce is estimated to be nearly 2.5 times larger than B2C online retail and growing rapidly, which represents a treasure trove of opportunities for any business. However, in order to tap into B2B segments, eCommerce companies have to address the specific needs of the corporate buyer and provide B2B-oriented eCommerce solutions that enable the following:
- Vast personalization – managing different prices for the same product for different customers, providing unique loyalty programs, and offering personalized custom catalogs on the same eCommerce store.
- Longer sales cycles – due to larger order values in B2B and multiple stakeholders, a typical sales lifecycle involves multiple interactions between a buyer and a seller. This requires specific features to streamline these interactions on an eCommerce portal.
- Support of different types of buyer-seller interaction – B2B eCommerce companies may be largely different in how they do business, which usually requires the support of unique business processes for their eCommerce store. Whether your business follows a self-service model, back-and-forth buyer-seller interactions, or a multi-vendor B2B marketplace, select the platform that can fit your business processes.
- Scalability for global development – a scalable B2B eCommerce solution allows for unlimited growth of your eCommerce web stores. Be sure your solution can address all multi-websites, multi-brands, and multi-locale requirements should your business need them.
Upgrading traditional eCommerce solutions to support B2B use cases will be a major priority for companies competing in the B2B segment.
4. eCommerce technology integration
As Frost & Sullivan pinpointed in their 2018 study, technology integration remains the biggest barrier to eCommerce success in the B2B segment. Integrating eCommerce solutions within the existing enterprise application landscape was marked as “challenging” or “extremely challenging” by 52% of respondents.
Multi-system integration is so important because it offers the coveted automation of business processes which lowers cost and improves efficiency. Integrating an eCommerce solution with an ERP solution allows companies to ensure synchronized inventory and financial data across all web stores in a centralized manner, thus eliminating redundant data transfer operations while ensuring uncompromised validity of the online information for the customer. We offer a free guide to Mastering ERP for B2B eCommerce Success that will help outline the intricacies of ERP integrations.
Another key challenge is an eCommerce CRM integration, which is absolutely vital for running effective customer engagement campaigns and analyzing eCommerce success factors in connection with your actual customer base.
Tomorrow’s eCommerce champions will leverage their key business applications to optimize eCommerce-related routines and focus on expanding their omni-channel presence, perfecting customer retention strategies, and keeping up with new upcoming technologies.
5. Mobile and Voice Search are two key eCommerce Trends
A 2015 survey showed that US adults spent almost 60% of their online shopping time on their mobile devices but the mobile channel only translated into 15% of actual purchases. In 2017, mobile eCommerce grew significantly – making up around 60% of all digital sales according to eMarketer. They estimate m-commerce share to climb up further to account for 70% of eCommerce sales in 2020. Optimizing your mobile experience is the present and will be the future of eCommerce.
Specifically regarding B2B eCommerce, according to Google and Boston Consulting Group, mobile drives, or influences an average of more than 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations; they also project that by 2020 the share of mobile traffic will take up as much as 70% of B2B search queries. Thus, unlocking the value of eCommerce mobile apps will be a major priority for B2B companies.
Finally, mobile advancements pave the way for broad implementation of voice search in eCommerce. Gartner predicts that brands that redesign their websites to support visual and voice search will increase digital commerce revenue by 30% by 2021. This is in line with the numerous statistics that confirms an incredibly fast adoption of voice search, which, together with image activated search, may account for up to 50% of all searches by 2020.
We expect another great year for eCommerce in 2019 given its rapidly growing adoption among B2C and B2B companies.
Figuring out how to build an omni-channel presence for your brand and engage customers through different online touchpoints is our #1 strategic priority among numerous eCommerce trends for 2019. Click to Tweet.
Our #1 trend for B2B sellers is completing their B2B eCommerce technology integration. Supporting specific B2B buyer-seller interactions, empowering customers with self-service, and keeping data synchronized across key business applications will be a major focus in 2019. Click to Tweet.
Finally, we urge all eCommerce players to keep up with new trending technology, such as mobile eCommerce, voice search and others.