As technology’s influence continues to grow and work its way into every facet of our lives, new trends are able to come and go faster than ever. These days, it’s vital to stay up to date on the latest developments, so that you won’t be left on your own with an outdated strategy. Here are 5 trends to help keep you in the know in 2018.
Amazon can take some of the blame for the rise in customer expectations when it comes to delivery. Free delivery is becoming the norm (even if the price of the item is raised accordingly), and Amazon’s ‘Prime’ next day delivery service sets the bar extremely high for other stores. And online retailers still have to compete with physical stores, where the customer can simply walk in and get their item same day. So a fast, painless, delivery experience, is becoming a key factor in retaining customers on your platform.
While I don’t expect to see drone delivery become mainstream in 2018, it’s safe to say delivery options are becoming faster and more flexible.
You may have thought about opening your own online store, but then you think about the overhead costs of getting stock, managing it, and shipping it, then decide it’s just not worth it. Well, what if you could run an online store without ever dealing with the stock? That’s the promise of dropshipping. Dropshipping is method of retail where you don’t actually keep any stock yourself, instead, when a customer makes a purchase from your store, you buy the product from a 3rd party who ships it directly to the customer.
The primary benefits of dropshipping over running a traditional online store are the relatively non-existent costs and the reduced workload that comes from not managing a warehouse. This means you have to pay for an ecommerce platform, and that’s pretty much it. You can do it from anywhere in the world, and you don’t need to hire any employees.
As with everything, there are drawbacks. Your profit margins won’t be huge, as you’re turning around and handing most of the money directly to the 3rd party who will ship the item. Shipping can get complicated if you have items from multiple different suppliers together in one order, and the customer won’t be happy covering the extra costs. Since you’re not managing a warehouse with easy access to your products, you can’t always know exactly what’s in stock and what’s not.
All in all, dropshipping is definitely a growing trend that you need to be aware of.
Statistics suggest that by 2019, spending on mobile marketing will exceed spending on all traditional media, apart from television, combined. We have seen the number of mobile phone users steadily rise since the introduction of the smartphone, and the average time spent using those devices per person has done the same. It’s true that mobile conversion still lags far behind that of desktop users, but as more of the consumers daily life goes mobile, they will become more comfortable making purchases on the go, and we can expect mobile conversion to improve across the board.
In order to convert your mobile audience, making your site simply ‘work’ on mobile isn’t enough anymore, you need it to be 100% optimized in every way you can think of, and some you can’t. Any slight annoyance can be enough to shake a customer’s trust in your site, or make it too much hassle to go through with the purchase. Supporting online wallets like PayPal can go a long way here, as it allows the customer to circumvent the process of filling in all the fields associated with an online transaction.
Increased sales on mobile is only half the story of this trend though, the other half is the growth of mobile marketing. There are many interesting creative options available to you when marketing to mobile users that aren’t available through more traditional mediums. Such as geolocation, alternate reality, and push notifications. As mobile marketing matures we will see these techniques become mainstream too.
In the mobile pantheon, you should also keep an eye on wearables like the Apple watch, or Google Glass. They’re not commonplace yet, but as new devices are released, they could take off, so you should be ready to integrate wearables into your strategy.
From your car to your doctor’s office, soon artificial intelligence will be a normal part of our everyday lives. While we won’t be seeing self-driving automatons replace all human drivers in 2018, it’s always best to be ahead of the curve. The influence of AI on marketing techniques is expected to keep expanding for years to come, largely because it opens doors that traditional marketing simply can’t.
To give you an idea of why AI is getting so many marketers excited, consider this: We can send a broad message that applies to lots of people, or a targeted message that applies to few people. The targeted message is more effective, but it requires more work to reach as many people. An AI system can personalize your marketing efforts down to an individual level for every single customer you have. It’s like assigning each customer their very own dedicated marketer who will carefully study everything you have learned about them, and provide tailored content. Powerful stuff.
AI is already being used by many companies to provide a basic version of what we outlined above, but as software and hardware capabilities improve, the effectiveness of the service is expected to do the same. Meanwhile, we can expect the cost of implementation to continue to drop.
This trend is somewhat linked to AI, as in many cases AI will be the technology that allows personalization in marketing to keep growing. More and more focus is being put on data and analytics, and pretty soon all the advertising you see could be personalized just for you, and that will be the norm. Companies record and examine every bit of data they can, because personalized marketing makes for effective marketing. This means the content, tone, aesthetic style, and even time of day an ad is seen can be tweaked to create the ad that’s most likely to convert.
We can also expect smaller stores to turn to their local audience to stay afloat as larger stores continue to grow and offer new features. A smaller store can take advantage of their in-depth understanding of the local culture to outperform the larger stores and build a local brand that promotes customer loyalty.
So now you’re up to date with the latest trends, but remember, things can change in a heartbeat and something that looks like the way of the future now could just as easily fade into obscurity. Only you can stay on top of these trends and craft the perfect marketing strategy for the current climate. But for now, you’re informed and ready to get back to innovating. Good luck!
Victoria Greene is a writer and brand consultant blogging for Victoriaecommerce. Here she helps brands ‘hack their growth’ with ecommerce. Big fan of social selling and content marketing through storytelling.