Ecommerce, like everything in the world, is always changing and evolving. What we knew about ecommerce merely 10 years ago is barely relevant now, and this will likewise be the case in another 10 years. However, we only want to concentrate on 2018 for now.

There’s no denying that ecommerce is skyrocketing. For example, in the most recent Black Friday sales in the US, instore purchases fell by 4% while online purchases actually rose by 18%. For ecommerce in general for the US, around $394 billion was spent online in 2016, compared to $341 billion in 2015.

So, we know that ecommerce will likely keep rising in 2018 and onward, but how exactly will it look like? Websites continue to progress, so what sort of tech will be available when purchasing? What new trends will be present for shoppers? Here are a few predictions.

Triggered Emails

We already see a large number of newsletter emails from ecommerce stores telling us about their new offers, sales, and any news they think relevant for consumers to know, but it’s likely we could receive even more. ‘Abandoned cart emails’ already happen to a small degree, but 2018 will continue this trend and then some. These emails are triggered when a consumer places something in their online shopping cart, only to abandon it a short while later. Did they simply forget? Did they have second thoughts about buying? A triggered email, perhaps even with a 5% discount code thrown in, may well seal the deal.

Augmented/Virtual Reality

Furniture store Houzz has already integrated augmented reality, and Amazon rival Alibaba has given VR users the option to browse the store in a way that makes you feel like you’re actually standing in a real shop. The technology is still very much in an infant stage, despite some good uses for 360-degree videos on YouTube and also within some video games, but it’s highly likely that many shops – both online and brick-and-mortar – will feature some sort of VR/AR experience. It could end up as nothing more than some sort of fad, but it’s still a very interesting way to shop.

More Payment Options

Digital wallets from the likes of Google and Apple are certainly well on their way to being commonplace, so too are NFC (near field communication) payments, but it may well be the case that far more payment options will be visible on ecommerce sites. It’s possible to find templates for ecommerce websites that already allow shoppers to pay with some of the most popular options (Visa, MasterCard, Stripe, PayPal, Amazon Pay, etc.) but emerging options like Authorize and even cryptocurrencies like bitcoin should be available for consumers, should they demand them.

Smarter Chatbots

Several ecommerce stores are already using chatbots to help cover basic queries like store opening times, return policies, warranties, and similar questions usually found in the FAQ sections. However, AI is becoming better and better and we’re starting to see chatbots that can handle increasingly more complex questions. Clothing store H&M, makeup company Sephora, and even eBay are all using chatbots to great effect. This result is fantastic, as chatbots never tire, are available 24/7, and reply very quickly. 2018 will likely result in incredibly sophisticated chatbots.

Faster Delivery

It used to be the case that you’d be impressed if you ordered something online on a Monday and it came at least before Friday. However, with the rise of online shopping, the demands placed upon retailers by customers to receive their items ASAP has likewise risen. Next-day delivery? Fine. Same-day delivery? Now we’re talking. Amazon’s Prime Air program involving drone deliveries may have faltered due to airspace regulations, but the company hasn’t let that set it back, as it has recently expanded same-day delivery to 8,000 cities in the US. Target too, has announced that it will launch same-day delivery in 2018 in a bid to compete with the might of Amazon and Walmart in the States. Expect far more companies to follow suit.

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