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E-commerce currently accounts for between 13% and 20% of all US retail sales. That large statistical spread comes down to which metric is used to calculate the percentage. If we consider all retail sales transactions, including those that predominantly take place off-line (vehicle purchases, fuel and food sales, etc) we end up on the lower end of the spectrum. However, if we factor out those types of sales the percentage easily hits the 20% mark. 

Whichever way you slice it, it’s clear that online merchants have captured a larger part of the retail market, and analysts expect the e-commerce sector to grow a further 3% to 4% by 2021. That’s good news for the industry at large, but it also presents some new challenges for the online entrepreneur. 

A Growing Industry Means More Competition 

As the industry continues to grows, and more businesses enter the e-commerce arena, online retailers will be forced to reckon with an increase in competition. What was once an open playing field is fast becoming fairly crowded, and to stand out from the pack online retailers will have to up their game considerably. Moving forward success will depend on staying ahead of the curve. That means keeping abreast of new e-commerce trends, and finding creative ways to make them work for your enterprise. 

So, as we head into the new year it’s time to take a look at a few of the top e-commerce trends for 2019 and see what they have to offer your business.

1. Dropshipping

Dropshipping can be especially profitable for online retailers with a limited cash flow. Basically, the retailer acts as a conduit between the manufacturer or supplier and the customer. The merchant processes a purchase through their website and the product is shipped directly to the buyer without the seller or their staff every having to physically handle product. 

As a business model dropshipping offers some fairly obvious benefits for the online retailer: 

  • Advertised product is only purchased after an order has been placed by a customer
  • Operating capital doesn’t need to be tied up in standing inventory
  • Overhead costs (warehousing, staffing, etc) can be greatly reduced

Sprout Funding logoDropshipping isn’t really a new concept. It’s been a staple of brick-and-mortar sales for years. But in 2018 it gained a real foothold with online shops, allowing them to maximize sales and profits with minimal risk or investment. It’s estimated that by the close of 2018 nearly 17% of all online retailers had incorporated dropshipping into their business model

As we move into 2019 and beyond it’s an e-commerce trend that should definitely be on your radar.

2. Multi-Channel Selling

As online retail continues to grow, and competition becomes even more fierce, it becomes increasingly important to take advantage of all possible sales channels. Online shoppers have the world at their fingertips, and they are making purchases through a wide variety of online as well as offline venues. 

BigCommerce’s 2018 Omnichannle Buying Report helps to shed some light on the public’s shopping habits. Surveying more than 3000 digital consumers BigCommerce reported that: 

  • 78% of respondents made purchases on Amazon
  • 65% in a brick-and-mortar store
  • 45% in a branded online shop
  • 34% on Ebay
  • 11% on Facebook

These numbers illustrate the growing trend toward omnichannel shopping. If you want to continue to grow your online business in the coming years it will be increasingly important to make your brand and your products available to consumes over a variety of platforms. 

Popular channels like Amazon, Ebay and Google Shopping offer direct access to customers already primed to complete a sale. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest also provide access to an eager customer base. 

The use of multi-channel e-commerce software like VoucherCart, ChannelGrabber, and MultiOrder can help you tap into this coming trend. Moving into 2019 and beyond multi-channel selling should be a part of your ongoing business plans.

3. Multi-Channel Personalization

Multi-channel selling can give you access to a larger pool of potential customers, but that’s really only part of the equation. You also want those customers to recognize, and return to, your brand regardless of the channels through which they make their purchases. 

Providing a personalized experience for your customers across multiple sales channels is the key to successful multi-channel selling. When a customer interacts with your brand, regardless of the sales channel, you need to be able to tailor the user experience to that particular customer. Multi-channel personalization allows you to do just that by offering product suggestions with real time messaging while avoiding irrelevant or annoying content. 

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the secret to multi-channel personalization, and it is through AI-powered software such as Cloud Engage, Segment and Dynamic Yield that small business owners will be able take advantage of this growing trend in the coming year. 

4. Smarter Payment Processing

Your customer has found a few items that they want to purchase and they’ve moved them into their virtual shopping cart. You’re in the home stretch and they’re about to go through the payment process. This is the most critical part of the sales experience, and if it isn’t effortless and smooth you can lose the sale and potentially the customer. 

According to the Baymard Institute nearly 70% of online shoppers abandon their cart before completing checkout. That same report found that 28% of cart abandonment is the result of overly long or needlessly complicated checkout procedures. 

E-commerce merchants who want to get ahead of the competition this year will need to streamline their checkout procedures. Now is the time to reassess your checkout process and look for ways to make it faster and easier for the customer. You should also consider extending your payment options to include Apple Pay, Google Pay and other digital payment systems.

5.Branded Packaging

Custom packaging is becoming a powerful tool for online retailers. Customers tend to see branded packaging as an extension of the product itself, and it reinforces their satisfaction with the purchases they’ve made. Branded packaging also acts as advertisement for your business, keeping your company’s name and logo in front of potential new customers. 

Custom packaging can also be a valuable marketing tool. For example, advertising the use of eco friendly packaging can help you attract and convert customers. Millennials and Gen Z-ers are increasingly concerned with the perceived morality and ethics of the companies with which they do business. Something as simple as offering sustainable packaging can go a long way to establishing your brand’s credibility with a customer base that is growing and that has a large amount of discretionary income. 

Custom packaging is one of the easier trends to pick up on for 2019, and one that can pay real dividends with a minimal investment. 

Conclusion 

The e-commerce industry is still relatively young and every year brings changes that serve to redefine what it means to be a successful online retailer. 2019 is no different. In an ever changing online market merchants must be constantly looking ahead, identifying new trends and finding ways to integrate them into their existing business model. The face of online retail is still evolving, and continued success will go to those e-commerce merchants who are mindful of the coming changes and use them to remain at the forefront of the competition.

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