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The 2018 eCommerce Trends Your Store Should Know About

As the eCommerce world constantly changes, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest tools, tricks, and trends. That’s why, after doing thorough research and talking to eCommerce insiders, we’ve compiled a list of not only the most popular eCommerce trends of 2018 but also the most effective.

Tempted to ignore these popular eCommerce store tactics, assuming they’ll pass by quickly? That’s a big mistake.

This post will dive into the five eCommerce trends that have been leading the pack in 2018, why they’re successful, and how you can implement them into your store.

Image saying, "The 2018 eCommerce trends your store should know about"

1. Product Subscriptions

Product subscriptions get the award for being one of the most popular eCommerce trends of 2018. Think these services peaked when they were introduced back in 2011? Think again.

According to BigCommerce, subscription brands made an estimated $57,000,000 in 2011. In 2016, that revenue jumped to $2.6 billion. We’ll do the math for you—that’s a 4,461% increase.

This makes for high gross margins and lowered costs—the eCommerce business dream.

Image displaying 4,461% increase in subscription sales statistic

Are Subscriptions Right for Your Store?

It’s important to know if subscriptions are right for your brand. How can you figure that out? For starters, it’s important to know which audiences favor these subscription services.

A study by McKinsey in February 2018 found that subscription eCommerce services were most popular among young, wealthier populations. In addition to that, subscription services tend to be most successful within these product categories:

  • Health and grooming
  • Beauty
  • Fashion
  • Food

Do your products fall within one of these categories? Does that sound like your target customer? If so, you should seriously consider getting on the product subscription bandwagon.

If you’re wondering where to start, both BigCommerce and Shopify have apps for subscription services.

  • ReCharge: This popular subscription Shopify app was built exclusively for Shopify stores selling physical products on subscription. Not only that, it allows seamless integration into your Shopify checkout, order flow, and customer account.  
Screenshot of ReCharge's subscription dashboard
Image via Shopify
     
  • Rebillia Platform: This BigCommerce app allows customers to use their cards for future purchases, subscribe to their favorite products or services, and sends them powerful automatic recommendation emails according to their purchase history.  
ezgif
Gif via Rebillia

2. Expanded Payment Options

More and more eCommerce stores are including expanded payment options for their customers. There’s a good reason for this—according to Statista, only 42% of online worldwide shoppers used credit cards for their online purchases in 2017.

This means that 58% of customers used Alternative Payment Methods (APM’s). From these numbers, it’s easy to see why expanded payment options are one of 2018’s biggest eCommerce trends.

Image of a hand holding an iPhone that has Apple Pay on the screen
Image via Fortune

If you’re only accustomed to credit card payment options, here’s a breakdown of the three broad classifications of APMs:

     
  1. Bank Transfers: APM Bank Transfers are eCommerce purchases where consumers approve the transaction using online banking. According to The Global Payment Report, bank transfers are forecasted to become the second most popular payment method globally by 2021.
  2. Wallet Based Solutions: Digital wallets (or e-wallets) are digital versions of your debit and credit cards stored in an app on your mobile device (e.g. Apple Pay and Google Pay). These allow consumers to safely store funds for transfers and payments and are expected to overtake credit cards as the main payment method in the US by 2021.  
  3. Cash-In: Cash-in APM’s are an alternative to credit cards and bank accounts that need to be loaded before payment. They currently come in two forms:
  4. Prepaid cards that run on traditional networks like Visa and Mastercard Prepay accounts that work like prepaid cards, but don’t run off the credit card system.

Although there may always be the customers that prefer entering their credit card information upon payment, internet users are becoming increasingly comfortable using payment systems like Paypal and Amazon payments.

Make Checkout Mobile-Friendly

Don’t forget about mobile when expanding your store’s payment options. Users crave convenience throughout their sales journey and are now expecting just the same on mobile.

Not sure where to start? Using apps like Skip Cart can help to simplify the checkout process and reduce the number of steps needed for your customers to purchase.

This simplification is crucial to reducing cart abandonment. A Nielson report discovered that 60% of online shoppers use their smartphone to find a product first. Giving those online shoppers an ultra-easy way to purchase that product could work wonders for eCommerce conversion rates.

3. Live Chat

We live in the age where speed reigns supreme (especially in the digital world). Customers don’t want to be put on hold for extended periods of time to get a simple question answered, nor do they want to wait 24+ hours to receive a reply to their email.

This is where the third 2018 eCommerce trend to watch out for comes into play. Whether it’s needing more information about a product or running into an issue with the store, a good portion of people need a little help during the buying process.

In a study called “Making Proactive Chat Work”, Forrester Research discovered some interesting facts when it comes to consumers and live chat:

“Many online consumers want help from a live person while they are shopping online; in fact, 44% of online consumers say that having questions answered by a live person while in the middle of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can offer.”

An online chat system offers a faster (and often immediate) alternative to customers who want to avoid long wait times and the pain of having to navigate through a tedious automated phone system.

Illustration of a man with a microphone on and various elements swirling around him such as an email, chat box, clock, Facebook thumbs up, etc.
Image via QERetail

Live chat also acts as a way to humanize your brand while a customer is going through the sales journey. Helping them through pain points in real time creates a positive overall shopping experience—this makes it more likely that they will return.

For eCommerce stores, having excellent customer service is a crucial part of increasing sales. Live chat now plays an instrumental role in ensuring happy and converting customers.

Live Chat Isn’t Just About Convenience

An obvious reason live chat is so successful for eCommerce stores is the simple fact that customers tend to shop online for the sake of convenience. That means they expect the same convenience when it comes to getting their issues resolved.

Surprisingly, it’s not just the convenience customers enjoy when it comes to a chat feature—they also seem to get a lot out of it.

According to a report by Zendesk, 92% of customers feel satisfied when they use a live chat feature. This customer satisfaction percentage dominates other options like voice (88%), email (85%), and even social media messaging (Facebook 84%, Twitter 77%).

Image displaying the 92% of customer satisfaction statistic

Live Chat Apps

Don’t have an online chat system for your store set up? Don’t panic—there’s a multitude of apps that will help up your customer service game in no time.

     
  • Tidio Live Chat: If you have a Shopify store, check out this highly-rated app. Not only can you integrate chat with your page in just a few seconds, but you can also remain connected to your customers at all times thanks to their mobile apps.  
Image of Tidio Live Chat working on iPhone screens
Image via Wordpress
     
  • Tawk.to Live Chat: This Shopify app lets you stay connected to your customers, while also allowing you to monitor your website visitors in real time. Talk about valuable information!  
Screenshot of Tawk.to's dashboard
     
  • Re:amaze: This helpdesk and customer messaging platform is a great option for BigCommerce stores. Improve your support system with their intuitive dashboard and get back to customers immediately with features like automated messaging.  
Screenshot of Re:amaze's dashboard

4. Fast and Free Shipping

It’s no wonder why fast and free shipping is one of 2018’s biggest eCommerce trends. With Amazon’s fast and free shipping, customers have grown accustomed to receiving their items in an ultra-timely matter at no additional cost.

Shipping costs are one of the top factors that influence someone’s decision to buy. In fact, a study from Baymard found that shipping costs were responsible for 60% of cart abandonments.

Graph of the reasons for abandonments during checkout
Image via Baymard

Puzzled by cart abandonments in your eCommerce website? Shipping costs may have a whole lot to do with it.

How to Offer Free Shipping

Have a small eCommerce business and not sure if you can swing free shipping? Good news—there are ways you can make it work.

  1. Build shipping costs into product prices. If you go this route, make sure to keep an eye on the market and keep your prices competitive. If adding the full shipping cost makes the product too expensive, scale back and increase the price by a smaller amount. By offering free shipping, the increase in conversions should help cover those shipping costs.
  2. Change your packaging. If increasing product prices isn’t possible, try changing your packaging to cut down on shipping costs. Swapping out boxes for padded envelopes can make a huge difference if you can make it work. Aim to decrease size and weight in whatever way possible and you’ll be surprised by how much you’re saving.
  3. Offer free shipping on orders over a set dollar amount. If offering free shipping on everything simply isn’t cost-effective for your business, try offering free shipping on orders over a specific dollar amount. This, in turn, can increase the average dollar amount per transaction for customers trying to qualify for free shipping.

Don’t forget to A/B test these methods to figure out the best solution for your business. For example, offer free shipping for two weeks and see if it improves conversion rates.

Make sure this free shipping offer is highly visible and jumps out on your website—it should be one of the first things a customer sees when they arrive:

Screenshot of a home page with the offer "Free shipping over $100" at the top
Image via Kissmetrics

5. Video Background

When it comes to store design, background videos have overwhelmingly been one of the big eCommerce trends this year. As the digital world evolves, video continues to be the preferred format for internet users. In fact, one-third of online activity is spent watching video.

Still unsure about the importance of video? More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube each day. You heard right—just in one day.

E-Commerce businesses should take note of these staggering numbers.

You can probably guess the first reason behind the rise of this movement—these videos stand out from other generic websites and captivate users immediately upon arrival. ‘

VU Sunglasses is a great example of an eCommerce store effectively utilizing a background feature. They not only prominently display their product, they captivate their users with striking video footage.

Gif of a video background including two people at the bottom with VU sunglasses on
Gif via Giphy

In the age of Instagram, visual storytelling is extremely important for businesses. Because of this, adding a video background that tells a story and conveys a message can bring your store design to life.

Add a Video Background to Your Store Using Shogun

Want to take advantage of this effective trend? Incorporating a video background is easy with Shogun Drag and Drop Builder’s Section element.

Simply choose “Video” when creating your section, put in your Vimeo or YouTube video link, and your store will be sporting this rising eCommerce trend.

Gif off implementing a video background in a store using Shogun

Summary

As you’ve learned, even the simplest changes (e.g. lighter packaging, a live chat app, etc.) can make a huge difference for your eCommerce store.

Thanks to helpful tools and apps, it’s simple to get a leg up on your competitors by taking advantage of these popular 2018 eCommerce business methods.

In case you didn’t take notes, copy and paste the below checklist of the five 2018 eCommerce trends your store should know about so you can start utilizing these popular and effective tactics for your store today.

     
  1. Product Subscriptions: If your target customer and product category are right for product subscriptions, use subscription apps like Recurring Orders & Subscription box to get started and see if your customers bite.
  2. Expanded Payment Options: Reduce cart abandonments and make your customers happy by offering expanded payment options (make sure they’re simple and quick).
  3. Live Chat: Stay connected to your customers, improve customer satisfaction, and increase sales by easily implementing live chat in your store.
  4. Fast and Free Shipping: Offer fast and free shipping by increasing product prices, changing your packaging, or offering free shipping over a set dollar amount. This is a surefire way to give your customers a good reason to purchase from your store instead of from your competitors.
  5. Video Background: Bring your store to life and captivate your audience with a video background. Implement this feature in minutes using Shogun.  
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