The world of ecommerce has soared in the past few years. Huge steps have been made in the digital marketplace, and even today we are seeing new and exciting transformations in the sector. But like what? I’ve highlighted for you eight of the most interesting and fresh trends that affecting ecommerce businesses today…

Improved shipping and delivery logistics

One of the key factors that differentiates ecommerce stores from each other is the shipping and delivery logistics available to them.

With delivery options like Amazon Prime already on the table, you’d think it it can’t get much slicker. In 2017, it took the online retail giant just 8 minutes to deliver a forehead thermometer, and 9 minutes for 5 pints of ice cream. However, with innovations like their drone service, Amazon Prime Air, on the way it will only get quicker.

Add to that the number of companies racing to the finish line to perfect the driverless delivery truck, and we can expect to receive our orders not only quicker and more efficiently, but with increasingly less reliance on humans.

Increasing reliance on voice search

From Siri and Cortana to Alexa and the more prosaic Google Assistant, more and more we are communicating with our devices through speech rather than text. But how will this impact ecommerce businesses?

If you have Amazon’s Echo, you’ll know that you can make purchases through it too. You might not know however that shoppers who purchase through their Echo spend on average $1700 dollars a year, in comparison to the $1300 spent by Prime users and $1000 by standard Amazon customers. Voice search makes the shopping process much easier and quicker, and we can expect similar devices to facilitate the practice too.

Further expansion for mobile checkout systems

One trend that is growing in popularity even as I write is something you might have used yourself this morning when paying for your coffee: mobile payment systems.

There are more than ten main systems on the market at the moment, such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, and individual banks are working on their own payment systems too. Most brick-and-mortar retailers offer mobile payments alongside card and contactless devices, and a growing number of ecommerce stores allow for this too.

On top of this, we can see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Litecoin begin to have more sway on the global market. While some banks have banned trading cryptocurrencies, others such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have embraced it. The future might look sketchy for Bitcoin, but cryptocurrencies in general can be expected to grow.

Development of AI and machine learning

AI might be one of the most exciting and mind-boggling developments coming to the ecommerce world today. While it has already been employed to to great effect in this area (think product recommendations and better search options), we can also expect to see changes that streamline the buying process for both customers and merchants.

One notable example of this is the development of the chatbot. Many online ventures have adopted this technology to some degree, and advancements in machine learning will let chatbots respond to and interact with customers in much more sophisticated ways.

Facebook for example has allowed some online merchants to use a Messenger-based chatbot to handle payments for goods, without ever having to leave the site.

The arrival of more subscription-based services

Subscription-based ecommerce ventures are becoming increasingly more successful and renowned of late. From coffee beans and flowers to jerky and holistic medicines, you can get subscription boxes for virtually anything these days. Arriving off the back of the millennial market’s desire for experience over products, these services offer a variety of quirky and exciting surprises for the consumer.

With such a significant (and growing) market for subscription boxes, you should expect to see more and more online businesses embracing this trend. Indeed, many ecommerce retailers could easily incorporate subscription boxes into their existing business model, offering curated items or accessories on a monthly basis.

Increased storefront apps

Shoppers are increasingly moving towards mobile devices to do their shopping. As a result of this, brands are facing more pressure to ensure that their online stores are as functional on mobile devices as they are on laptops, no matter how big or small they are. If you look at the businesses for sale on the Exchange marketplace for example, you can see that even the smallest of SMEs offer a responsive online store.

But it’s not just web browsers that ecommerce brands need to be concerned with. In fact, as this trend continues, we can expect to see more and more retailers investing in and developing their own apps to sell and market their goods.

Image App Store

Whilst several big name brands such as ASOS or eBay already offer such storefront apps, smaller retailers are beginning to cotton on to the benefits that these have to offer. They are often much faster and more responsive than their web-based counterparts. They can also offer real-time push updates and notifications with relevant and interesting content for the consumer.

Another important trend to consider is native app integration — arguably a more profitable route to market for growing businesses. Think about how your business can get into places like Whatsapp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger…

Virtual reality will become part of the mainstream

Virtual reality is already somewhat commonplace through entertainment and social platforms like Pokemon Go and Snapchat. However, these only scratch the surface of the possibilities virtual reality will bring, particularly in the world of ecommerce.

An example you yourself might have used is the online retail giant Amazon’s AR View app. Released in 2017, installing the app lets shoppers browse thousands of product and, using their smartphone camera, place them in and around their own home.

It’s a staggering development that could be straight out of a sci-fi film, and they’re not alone. The Danish skylight and roof window manufacturer Velux released their own app, MyDaylight. Working in the same way as Amazon’s, it lets customers visualize how their homes would look with a Velux window installed. As this technology becomes more developed, we can expect more and more ecommerce stores to embrace it.

Selling via social media

With the number of global social media users expected to hit 2.95 billion by 2020, all the major social platforms are scrambling to monetize that sizeable portion of the population. Facebook is launching their Buy button for businesses, Instagram recently enabled a Shop Now feature, and Pinterest are trialing Buyable Pins for merchants in the US.

Image Facebook

Social selling also works nicely in conjunction with the variety of advertising options available to online stores. As the lines between social media and ecommerce blur even further, we can expect to see increased advancements in the options available to both merchants and consumers.

Ecommerce is an ever-changing digital landscape. While the trends I’ve highlighted above are still fresh and exciting, they’re not forever. We can expect the future of online shopping to hold even more changes disrupting how we buy and sell in the digital marketplace.

Victoria Greene: freelancer and branding guru

While my passion lies in the digital world, I also keep a close eye on the latest trends in marketing and design too. For more news on what I’ve been thinking about, please visit my blog, Victoria Ecommerce.