January 7, 2019
Ecommerce sales (as a proportion of total retail sales) continue to trend upward, driving retailers to do what they can to capture growing market opportunity. For many, an omni-channel buyer experience is the ultimate goal. Since consumers want to discover and purchase the products they like wherever they shop, it’s up to retailers to make themselves present and to deliver a consistent brand experience — everywhere and across all sales channels.
In 2019 and beyond, we’ll see retailers leverage new technologies and experiential tactics to get in front of customers. Innovations ranging from video previews to supply chain disruptions will help brands maintain and grow moving forward.
Video Kills the Copywriting Star
It seems that the utility of written product descriptions might be going extinct. We’ve known for a while that earned advocacy like reviews, comments, and feedback influence retail purchases. Now, we also know that nearly three-quarters of shoppers rely on social media to help shape purchase decisions. And the most influential medium on social media? Video. It should come as no surprise, then, that Facebook is testing its own video shopping service and Google now includes video in its Showcase Shopping ads.
While we likely won’t ever see the complete disappearance of text descriptions, it’s clear that ecommerce videos will continue to grow in prominence and In 2019, we’re going to see retail brands lean heavily on video marketing. Independent product review videos will make their way onto official brand Twitter feeds and websites as companies ramp up their promotion of earned advocacy and media. Video will soon be just as ubiquitous as text.
Delivery Service Innovations Will Be Talk of the Town
The Amazon Effect continues to spread. Fast and free shipping drives cross-channel purchases, and consumers are increasingly savvy at finding e-tailers that offers better and faster rates. Retailers are up against a strong, trusted competitor when facing Amazon; consumers are twice as likely to believe that Amazon will deliver their packages in a timely manner, vs. other retailers, so in 2019, ecommerce companies need to up the speed and build their reputations.
With speed top of mind, Amazon, Google, and Uber have all experimented with delivery drones. For most brands, aerial delivery fleets are not (yet) feasible, but there are other technologies that can help improve the efficiency of package delivery. Warehouse robotics present an intriguing possibility for shaving seconds off packaging, and cloud-based platforms for inventory management and drop shipping are becoming more robust. However retailers choose to speed up their delivery processes, 2019 promises to be full of supply chain related technology investments.
If there is one thing that is becoming abundantly clear, it’s that consumers don’t care so much what retailer they buy from, provided they can find brands and products they like. Amazon and Walmart present options from hundreds of brands and thousands of products. Subscription services like BirchBox and StitchFix are proliferating, and marketplaces like Huckberry and Backcountry are doing well by aggregating a number of brands in one place.
In response to ecommerce giants that offer endless aisles of product assortment, we are already seeing smaller brands unite in megastore-like marketplaces — particularly ones that are united around a common vertical or consumer interest, like baby products, beauty products, etc. — and that will likely continue to trend. By combining forces and resources under one digital roof, smaller brands can help each other succeed through efficiencies gained, like delivery time and customer experience.
2019 Will Prove Disruptive
No matter where we look, we see brands fighting for immediate visibility and recognition — from online ad space to billboard presence. The existing speed of ecommerce and technology have created a sense of urgency for those in the industry, and in 2019, we’ll see more and more brands adopting disruptive technologies and trying whatever it takes to reach consumers faster. Accompanied by evolving strategies, like the shift toward video descriptions, should make for an interesting year of ecommerce evolution and growth.