2019 ecommerce trends: our predictions

It’s almost a given that the rise of ecommerce will continue well into 2019. Last year, online sales demonstrated a strong growth rate, accounting for 17.4% of all retail sales in the UK. (Compared to 15.9% in 2017.) And within the next twenty years, it is predicted that 95% of purchases will be made online.

But as we increasingly click our way through commerce, what trends are set to influence our digital buying behaviour?  We’ve peered into our crystal ball and come up a few predictions for the 2019 ecommerce trends that look set shape the future of online retail.

So, from smarter chatbots to speedy translation technology, here’s what we think 2019 has in store for ecommerce.


Omnichannel online and offline shopping

2018 saw a pronounced decline in the high street, as more and more shoppers opted for online convenience. As the high street, shopping malls and bricks-and-mortar trade declined, ecommerce continued to soar.

So, we predict that the high street will turn to the example set by its online counterparts. The gradual integration of in-store shopping with ecommerce will be one of the major (and most needed) 2019 ecommerce trends.

As part of this, physical stores will embrace more digital technology. Just as online ads are catered to your interests, offline ads will also become increasingly personalised. This is already achievable through facial recognition tools that can analyse your demographic and dwell times.

Then, more convenient check-out experience (as inspired by the one-click online buy) will also grow in physical retail. Amazon Go and the rise of Apple Pay are just two examples of this convenience already budding in bricks-and-mortar shops.

Swapping between in-store and online will also start to become seamless. Whether it involves finding an item, completing a purchase, getting support or tracking an order, customers will increasingly be able to swap between on and offline effortlessly.

This innovation is essential to reviving the high street. 51% of millennials would find a physical store visit more exciting if the retailer used technology. So, in other words, ecommerce is going to save the high street, furthering the progress towards a true omnichannel experience.


The rise in real time translation tech

As the tech world grows, the real one seems to be shrinking (in a good way). We’re more connected and reachable than ever, as more and more businesses are enjoying the benefits of global ecommerce.

This global growth has led to the need for more translation abilities. And unfortunately, there just aren’t enough multilingual employees to go around.

So, we predict that translation technologies — such as live chat translation — will become another of the major 2019 ecommerce trends. The ability to automatically translate messages means that agents and customers can converse in real-time, even with language differences.

Quickly communicating back and forth in multiple languages will prove a vital tool for ecommerce businesses looking to stay competitive in the globalised marketplace. With ¾ internet users speaking a language other than English, ecommerce traders can’t afford to stay confined by language.


Integration with smart speakers

Many homes now have a handy, voice-activated assistant like Google Home or Alexa. And, it looks as though the use of smart speakers is set to continue growing. But what has that got to do with 2019 ecommerce trends?

Well, we predict that in the coming year, smart speakers are going to become more widely used as an online shopping channel. Users are growing 48% annually. So, it’s clear that consumer reservations around smart AI assistants in the home are receding. We’re starting to trust our bots enough to buy through them.

This will allow ecommerce businesses to embrace a new level of accessibility. Voice-controlled transactions allow disabled or injured customers to comfortably shop with you online, where typing or looking at a screen caused problems before.

Plus, smart speakers create a whole new platform that customers can use to reach you. More platforms mean more routes to purchase, and so (it follows) more purchases.


More chatbots, better AI

Chatbots were on our minds and in our chat interfaces throughout 2018, and we don’t expect them to be disappearing any time soon. As artificial intelligence continues to improve over the coming year, so too will our chatbots.

So, we predict that smarter, more helpful chatbots will be another of the more prominent 2019 ecommerce trends. We’re talking about chatbots that can recommend personalised items, based on your digital behaviour and history. Chatbots capable of a human-sounding conversation, rather than stilted ‘question-answer’ machines. Chatbots you can search and buy through, without needing to click through a site.

While these kind of mature chatbots are already available, they’re not yet the standard. This could start to change in 2019. In fact, within the next five years, more than 60% of consumers expect brands to have their own personal assistant they could build a relationship with.

Chatbots, then, must (and will) get more adept at helping online customers. They will become near indistinguishable from human agents for common cases. In the process, it’s likely that chatbots will become an integral aspect of online shopping.


Augmented reality (AR)

Augmented reality refers to technology that allows people to put digital images into the user’s view of the world. IKEA is already seeing success with augmented reality, allowing customers to place virtual furniture in their homes.

We predict that this technology will start to creep further into ecommerce. With AR, 2019 could be the year that online customers can virtually try on clothes before buying. Or, as with IKEA, place virtual furniture into their rooms to see what it looks like. Augmented reality could inspire new and innovative ways to boost the online customer experience.

Already, up to 70% of consumers say they can see the benefits of using augmented reality products every day. (This in the fledgling days of the technology.) A further 62% say it can help them with their shopping errands. So, consumers are ready for AR.

This interest, coupled with advancements in the technology, mean augmented reality could be one of the 2019 ecommerce trends revolutionising online shopping.


Any further 2019 ecommerce trends?

Only time will tell what 2019 has in store for the world of ecommerce. But if 2018 is anything to go by, there’s a lot to be excited for.

We’ve peered into our crystal ball, but is yours telling of any other 2019 ecommerce trends? Do you agree with our predictions? Tweet us and let us know!


Useful links

Real time chat translation

Chatbots: what are they good for?

[Infographic ] Multilingual support: the headline stats