The Future of Ecommerce: What We Can Expect

Since its introduction in the 1990s, the ecommerce industry has yet to stop growing. Experts predict that ecommerce retail sales in the US will hit over $560.7 billion in 2019, up from $446.8 billion just two years prior.

Ecommerce industry analysis shows that evolving technologies and customer expectations will lead to retail innovations across the board, from online-only brands to retail giants.
 

Future of Ecommerce: 5 Predictions

 
While we’re not fortune tellers, there are some clear trends in the ecommerce industry already emerging in 2019. Here are our top 5 predictions about the future of the ecommerce industry.
 

1. DNVBs are taking over

 
Digitally native, vertically integrated brands — aka DNVBs — are online-based brands that sell their own products on their own websites. (Think Harry’s, Care/of, Blue Apron, or Casper.)

 

future-of-ecommerce-casper

www.casper.com

 

DNVBs stay competitive against retail giants like Amazon and Walmart by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to consumers. These brands often fit a unique niche and connect with specific audiences, making them stand out among the noise.

According to Internet Retailer, web-only brands are growing nearly three times faster than the average ecommerce retailer — and they’re not slowing down. We’ll be sure to see more of these brands come to market and become household names in the not-so-distant future.   

 

anu verma care/of brand marketing

 

“Digital brands have a unique ability to develop a connection with the customer — through communication via email, or the development of a following on social,” says Anu Verma, Head of Marketing at Care/of.

“Care/of knows its customers on a first-name basis — and shows it on every package. What are you doing to build relationships with your customers?”

 

future-of-ecommerce-careof

 

2. Omnichannel commerce is the new normal

 
Omnichannel commerce isn’t new, but it’s also not going anywhere anytime soon. According to a study by the Harvard Business Review, 73% of shoppers use multiple channels to shop.  

As Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext, says, “Consumers simply don’t think in terms of channels. This isn’t 1998. No one is sitting around and thinking, ‘Hey, I think I’ll do some online shopping.’ For many years, and certainly, in 2019, it’s all just ‘shopping’.”

 

Ray Hartjen, Marketing Director at RetailNext

 

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to the continued rise of omnichannel commerce is a consistent customer experience across every channel.

Omnichannel blurs the lines between physical and digital, making a connected shopping experience imperative throughout the entire process.

A shopper might use mobile, desktop, and brick-and-mortar channels all throughout just one purchase decision — and it should feel seamless.  
 

3. Mcommerce is here to stay

 
Mobile commerce is here to stay. Mcommerce sales are predicted to make up 44.7% of total US ecommerce sales in 2019, up from 39.6% in 2018. With a projected 2.71 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2019, retailers can no longer afford to make the mobile shopping experience an afterthought.

That said, mobile shoppers convert at a dismal rate of just 1.73% compared to desktop’ shoppers’ 4.02%. To keep up with desktop sales, retailers must focus on creating the fastest and easiest mobile shopping experience possible.

As smartphones evolve, desktop shopping technology remains relatively stagnant — a mobile-optimized version of a desktop site is no longer enough to create the best experience possible.

Whether through an app or a mobile site, retailers should view mobile as an entirely separate initiative, tailoring the design, content, and checkout to the latest smartphone and tablet operating systems.

Some brands are taking an innovative look at mobile as a payment channel – including Dirty Lemon, who chose to create a direct-to-consumer beverage line where all orders are placed by text message.

That’s right – text message.

 

The process is simple, customers text us @917-588-0640 to set up an account – after they send a text message, a DIRTY LEMON customer service rep sends a secure link where the customer enters credit card and address information.

After the initial sign-up, customers only need to send a text message of their order to 917-588-0640, and subsequent orders are automatically charged to the card on file.

dirty lemon rose cpg

 
“We’re moving beyond experiential marketing and into experimental — this type of engagement enables the convenience customers have come to expect from our brand. Our customer prefers conversational interaction — we’re committed to a transaction process that eliminates all unnecessary steps,” said Zak Normandin, Co-founder and CEO of DIRTY LEMON in a recent interview.

zak normandin ceo cofounder dirty lemon direct to consumer cpg brand

 

4. AR and AI create more connected experiences

 
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and augmented reality are becoming more and more integrated into the ecommerce experience.

From game-changing examples of AI in retail to applications of AR that bridge the gap between physical and digital experiences, more and more ecommerce retailers are adding this next-gen technology across the customer experience. This includes chatbots that provide instant customer service, as well as new ways to personalize online shopping.

One example of a brand who is leveraging machine learning to provide beauty product recommendations is Olay Skin Advisor. Their new skin advisor tool analyzes shoppers’ selfies to diagnose their “skin age” and problem areas.

 

future-of-ecommerce-ai

Credit: Olay

 

Olay scanned over 50,000 faces while developing the tool’s AI technology, meaning that the estimates are backed with data.

Once a user’s skin has been analyzed via selfie, Olay offers tailored recommendations of products from its anti-aging skincare line.

Retail Dive predicts that annual AI spending will grow to $7.3 billion per year by 2022, up from just $2 billion in 2018.

Ecommerce industry leaders currently using AI are setting the standard for future ecommerce: more personal omnichannel experiences that surprise and delight customers wherever they choose to shop online.

 

5. Physical meets digital

 
Previously, ecommerce has focused on eliminating the need for brick-and-mortar retail — but as late as 2021, brick-and-mortar is predicted to account for over 80% of retail.

As the adage goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

DNVBs are predicted to open 850 brick-and-mortar stores in the next five years. From Amazon’s bookstores to niche luxury brand boutiques, retailers of all sizes are moving offline.
 
future-of-ecommerce-amazon-go

 

And for brands that don’t want to commit to a permanent store, pop-up shops are on the rise: Storefront predicts that temporary retail will generate $80 billion this year. Pop-up shops generate social buzz through curated shopping experiences made to wow customers with limited-time-only offers and beautifully designed spaces.

 

Credit: www.blog.thestorefront.com

 

As we said, we’re not psychic; no one can say for sure what the future of ecommerce holds.

What do you think is next in the world of ecommerce? Let us know in the comments below!

About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.