Online business or digital commerce is a vast field today and it's growing limitlessly even beyond the Internet. Currently “eCommerce/digital influences up to 56% of in-store purchases, while eCommerce itself represents almost 10% of U.S. retail sales and that figure is growing by nearly 15% annually”. Along with this exponential surge comes a host of changes, improvements, and trends in the way businesses are done that are being defined and established by the eCommerce world.
Digital businesses are now more than just buying and selling on a website. It's now more of a medium that uses technology to exchange goods and services and to ensure that it reaches the right people. In order to thrive, therefore, both retail and online stores increasingly need to make their presence felt in customers' preferred ways and platforms.
Here are some latest online marketplace trends and important developments in digital commerce that you are likely to see coming this year. These are expected to significantly affect online as well as in-store sales growth, and also pave the way for sustainable growth of modern businesses.
Some impactful marketplace trends of 2018
For both in-stores and online stores
Combining brick & mortar and online marketplaces models
Physical stores and markets have not died out completely. A new type of retail store experience is recently taking effect, something that's rooted in and catalyzed by the digital world.
In-person and on-site interactions are becoming important for different reasons. Online vendors and merchants are now understanding the importance of both showrooming and webrooming experiences. Things, such as, events, product demos, in-store trials, and more are still deciding factors for a large number of consumers.
Online (“pureplay”) merchants will grow their physical footprint as consumers continue to place a premium on both the versatility and depth of online shopping and the convenience of buying, picking up and returning items locally. – 10eCommerceTrends.com
By investing in distribution hubs and a physical retail presence, online merchants can improve customer engagement and service. Think of new store features and formats that your customers enjoy based on their experience and convenience, and begin rolling them out both in your retail stores and online marketplace.
Consumers, in effect, get the best of both – see the desired product in person but shop for it online or buy the product online and pick it up from the designated store.
Mobile Checkout beats Desktop Checkout
As mobile payment technology becomes reliable, common, and more advanced, its convenience is expected to catch up with desktop checkouts. This is a phenomenal transformation taking place in the type of transactions with advanced-yet-simplified mobile technology. Buying and renewing products and services while on the go or in-store will become common on mobile.
Online vendors should be working ahead to catch on to this new trend and make their sites mobile safe for transactions. Now eCommerce's biggest challenge will become an unavoidable asset.
This will also increase mobile traffic on eCommerce sites. Moreover, it is also likely to become the preferred method of payment for retail purchases.
ROPO: A new way to measure digital success
Retailers, online merchants, and brands can now measure how much of their in-store sales are coming from their digital ads and if the investments they are making are worthy. In other words, they will be able to calculate exactly how much of their retail store sales are attributable to online ad campaigns. This new model for measurement is known as ROPO Ratios (Research Online, Purchase Offline).
82% of mobile users search for a local business and 18% of local searches lead to a sale within 24 hours. – 10eCommerceTrends.com
The ROPO system will let sellers and marketers combine mobile devices with various media, such as, payment, social media, mobile location tracking, inventory, ERP, CRM and POS systems, and find out which ads, listings and site visits led to in-store visits and purchases.
For online stores
Augmented Reality will be the next best thing
AR is expected to be huge in 2018 as brands worldwide have already started taking advantage of it. This new thing will let consumers experience straight from their phones what it would be like to have the items of their choice in their home, office, or anywhere else. This includes even plus-sized items, like furniture. This visualization is powerful: it lets consumers visualize before purchasing how a certain product would look like when placed in that exact spot they like.
From simple imagination to visualization, shoppers can now better understand if they should go for a product. This leads to faster and more satisfied purchases and customer experiences.
It can also help to reduce returns, which is one of the greatest problems in online shopping.
Voice Searching to look for products & services
Marketers may not have to rely on traditional SEO anymore. Voice searching is expected to change the search engine landscape drastically.
Just like Apple's Siri, this feature is anticipated to be big as consumers learn to interact one-on-one with voice with their mobile devices when they shop like never before.
Search results will be super narrow. Products will need to have in-depth information and be optimized for voice search to be easily found and making store inventory available in real-time.
Searching identical or similar merchandise by image
Like voice search, image-based searches is also expected to become bigger in 2018. This feature is already in use by some devices.
Online merchants can start to make use of this new feature in mobile devices. Because the language will no longer be an obstacle to discovery. Shoppers will be able to click photos of objects and search for it or similar items online.
Merchants who integrate this capability into their digital strategy will be richly rewarded.
Online vendors who adopt this digital capability into their product and marketing strategy will reap significant benefits. This includes new levels of ROI and entry into new markets. And it is based on the quality and multiplicity of images they provide of their offerings.
Marketplaces are becoming more narrowly focused & local
Digital commerce marketplaces are now getting narrower in their propositions and the kind of users and customers they serve. In essence, they are becoming more vertical and catering to more niche target groups both locally and globally.
For example, Staymarta is essentially Airbnb but for Christian-friendly accommodations and adventures. On the other hand, Go-Jek is a transport company like Uber but for Indonesia only. Also, Bikroy takes its proposition Craigslist but hyper-localized for the Bangladeshi audience.
The good thing about this is that it enables these new players to serve these customer groups based on their unique needs and demands. And also according to their unique cultural and local values and requirements.
What else in the game of marketplace trends?
We are noticing a constant disruption in the way commerce has been traditionally conducted. As players in eCommerce try to catch up with the latest marketplace trends, there are some other developments that should be noted:
- the fading importance of middleman businesses.
- artificial intelligence and machine-learning to improve trust and enhance customer experience.
- growth of services around online marketplaces that improve buyer and seller experience.
- the emergence of blockchain to improve trust and transparency of digital commerce.
- exponential growth of B2B purchases online as businesses embark on product discovery and buying online and mobile.
Online businesses and commerce are set to flourish significantly in 2018 and will shape the way people buy and sell.