How to take advantage of 2019 e-commerce trends

E-commerce in South Africa is exploding! In 2018, 25% of South African shoppers were buying online due to mobile penetration, faster Internet connectivity, and more secure online transactions

How can online entrepreneurs take advantage of 2019 e-commerce trends? A closer look at these trends suggest a central theme: customers are taking centre stage. Today’s customers are spoilt for choice. They demand attention. They know what they want and if they don’t know, they expect you to tell them at the touch of a button.

Here are some tips on how you can take advantage of the hottest 2019 e-commerce trends: 

1. Augmented reality

In 2015, clothing overtook computer hardware as the top-selling online sales category since the inception of e-commerce. This change marked a significant shift in the type of products that customers were willing to buy online. It indicated a more engaged process that involved a deeper level of decision-making where the question moved from: “Does it fit my specification?” to: “What colour, size, and design is right for me?”

By integrating virtual objects into existing surroundings, augmented reality allows potential buyers to see a 3D view of the products they’re considering buying in a real-life context.

How to use this trend to your advantage:

The idea of augmented reality could seem daunting and too sophisticated for the smaller business, but it need not be! Technology is in your favour as web developers begin to build plug-ins that enable augmented reality on your website, for example using WordPress and WooCommerce‘s Augmented Reality plugin.

2. Personalisation

A great salesperson has the ability to recall personal details about a potential buyer at crucial stages in the selling process. While an exceptional salesperson uses these details to pre-empt potential customer needs. They offer potential and existing customers solutions to problems they may not have known existed.

E-commerce has been moving in the same direction with artificial intelligence and machine learning, two of the top e-commerce trends for 2019, making it easier than ever to understand customer buying behaviour.

How to use this trend to your advantage:

A perfect way to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning to personalise your website is by adding a chatbot to your website.

A chatbot is a small computer program designed to talk to users. It  can be used for basic customer support and more advanced sales interactions. Depending on the technical skills and budget within your team, you could either develop your own or buy pre-built chatbots customised to suit your needs.

3. Mobility

Before mobile devices became mainstream, potential customers would primarily access the Internet on desktop computers at home, work, or Internet cafes. Web design was simpler in those days. All you worried about was  compatibility across the handful of web browsers on desktop devices!

Today’s online customer has a number of devices across a growing number of browsers. They have busier lifestyles where the boundaries between home and work no longer exist. They shop on the go from wherever they are, whenever they want. And they often browse the same websites from different devices expecting the same experience.

How to use this trend to your advantage:

To offer potential customers a consistent mobile experience of your brand incorporate mobile apps, specifically built for mobile devices, into your e-commerce strategy. Take a look at ways in which mobile apps can help you better understand and serve your customers.

4. Voice search

According to research, more than 50% of searches will be conducted via voice in 2020. This trend is perfectly in line with customer demands for convenience and instant gratification. Speaking out a keyword provides quicker and easier results rather than typing it out on a keyboard.

How to use this trend to your advantage:

Optimise your website for voice search by using more conversational keywords for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Simplifying your content, and use Google My Business for listing your business locally.

5. Convenient shipping and delivery

The Internet has made it easy for customers to buy products on the go and at a touch of a button. Yet, delivery is not that simple and customers often have to wait days, weeks, or even months for their newly-purchased product to be delivered. Customers are no longer happy to accept this delay. Which has resulted in them combining online and offline shopping. Either, by browse online and purchase offline, or purchase online and collect offline at their convenience.

How to use this trend to your advantage:

If you’re an online business with local customers, explore ways to offer same-day or overnight delivery. Incorporate ways in which potential and existing customers can purchase online and collect their product offline.

So how can you, as an online store owner, take advantage of 2019 e-commerce trends?

Consider which of these trends will benefit your customers most. You don’t have to master all of them at the same time. Gradually introduce these trends into your online strategy. Watch as you build a loyal following and gain repeat business.