Remember in middle school when you bought that sweet new pair of acid-washed flares, only to show up on Monday and find all your peers wearing ripped skinny jeans? No? Maybe that was just me.

Being caught behind is never fun. FOMO is real, and missing out on trends can be detrimental not only to your self-esteem but to the future of your business.

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep up with and ideally stand out from the competition. What is everyone in your industry going to be doing this year? What new initiatives are worth your time and money?

Here at Pixel Union, our goal is to help your online business be successful, and a huge part of that is staying up to date with goings-ons in the ecommerce world. For this post we’ve compiled our predictions for 2018, so you don’t find your online store stuck in the past (the business equivalent of tacky jeans).

Mobile shopping

Last July, during a yawn-inducing lunch date, I bought some shirts on my phone under the restaurant table. Sure, it was rude, but you can bet I’m not the only one with bad table manners.

Mobile shopping (AKA m-commerce) will continue to be one of the most emergent, important trends in ecommerce. This Invesp report predicts that American retail sales conducted via mobile will amount to over $132 billion in 2018, up by almost $20 billion when compared to 2017’s record-setting $114.5 billion.

Another report by Absolunet shows how advancements in payment technology from Apple, Samsung, and Google have made it easier and safer than ever to shop from your phone. Whether it’s mobile payment options like Apple Pay or mobile-first stores and shopping apps, m-commerce is very clearly the future.

Looking for inspiration? Brands like Sephora, Frank & Oak, and Starbucks have successfully embraced m-commerce with their own mobile apps—and it’s paying off. In the fourth quarter of 2017, 11% of Starbucks transactions in the U.S. were completed with their Mobile Order and Pay solution.

collage of screenshots from the starbucks, sephora, and frank & oak

What does this mean for you? Well, you’re going to want to be hyper-aware of how your store looks on mobile devices. Thankfully, Shopify has set you up for success. All Shopify themes available in the theme store must be mobile-friendly, and it’s easier than ever to view and edit your store in a mobile view.

Looking to enhance your customer’s mobile experience even more? Our mobile-first Handy Shopify theme was designed with exactly this in mind.

Artificial intelligence

With Siri in our pockets and Alexa or Google Home on our counters, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more prevalent in our everyday lives. Netflix knows what we want to binge-watch next and Spotify what we love to dance to.

And trust us when we say ecommerce is not to be left behind.

According to a report from the Business of Fashion, 2018 is set to see AI innovations spanning from merchandising, capacity planning, forecasting, and potentially even automated delivery and production of products.

screenshot of burberry facebook chatbot

Chatbots, which provide automated customer support, are also going to be bigger than ever this year. The Business of Fashion report uses the luxury brand Burberry to exemplify effective use of AI in the form of a chatbot. In this case, as seen in the screenshot above, it’s integrated into Facebook Messenger.

Up to 45% of consumers say they prefer a live chat connection with a company over any other kind of interaction. Chatbots provide instant and personalized responses and 24/7 support. Our friends at Tidio offer a chatbot that can be easily integrated into your Shopify store.

Video content

screenshot of vogue shopify theme with video player

It feels like we’ve been waiting years for video content to take over the internet, but it’s actually starting to happen. And that means the days of kicking video down the road in favour of more urgent, more convenient types of content are over.

Consider that 43% of consumers say they want more video content from brands. Or that by 2019, it’s predicted video will account for 80% of internet traffic.

Up to 90% of shoppers say that product videos help them make purchasing decisions. Not only can video marketing boost your SEO, but consumers are more likely to remember your products from a video than a more analog form.

With Facebook’s recently announced NewsFeed update promising to make the platform more people-friendly, businesses will have to find strategies to keep consumers engaged with their page. Quality video content might just be the ticket.

Video content in your store and on your social media feeds can increase the number of interactions consumers have with your products. This will keep you in the front on their minds and lead to more conversions.

Subscription ecommerce

screen shot birchbox homepage

Consumers are looking for a more personalized shopping experience, and subscription businesses—one of the fastest-growing sections of ecommerce at 3,000% over the past three years—have the potential to provide that.

Subscription services provide consumers with curated collections of products delivered to their homes at specified intervals. Some of the most successful online subscription services include Birchbox, Dollar Shave Club, and Blue Apron.

The growth of subscription services indicates a shift in retail toward more personalized shopping experiences. Consumers want to feel like the products they’re purchasing and receiving have been carefully selected just for them.

If you’ve recently started a subscription business, or are looking to incorporate subscriptions into an existing store, don’t miss our post over on ReCharge’s blog with tips on choosing a Shopify theme for your subscription business.

Digital currency and blockchain

Blockchain technology has the potential to change the way we work online, especially in the ecommerce realm. It will, when the time comes, flip the whole “paying for things online” thing on its head.

In its ideal form, digital currency eliminates the need for a middleman (online banks, PayPal, etc.) and allows consumers to buy directly from the seller using some form of a digital wallet.

One of the benefits of this technology is transparency. Shoppers and sellers will be able to see where the money is and be held accountable for payments in a way that hasn’t yet been seen online. Crypto-currencies like bitcoin and ethereum are paving the way for such a shift.

In 2017 alone, daily bitcoin transactions increased by 100 times from January to December. Bitcoin is already accepted as payment by major companies like Expedia, Microsoft, and even a Subway restaurant in Argentina.

And guess what: Shopify allows you to accept bitcoin in your online store.

Like anything, risk is involved. The markets are currently volatile, but it’s something worth watching. In 2018, this technology will become more prevalent and more widely accepted by consumers and businesses alike.

Pop-up shops

Brick and mortar isn’t dead, but it is going through a major change none of us have seen before. That change has led to an increase in pop-up shops. In Canada, pop-up stores are more popular than ever.

As shoppers, there’s a “human” factor that tends to be missing from ecommerce. No, we don’t miss the waiting in line, or the arriving at the shelf only to find that the shoes don’t exist in our size. But we do miss talking to the shop owner and seeing the product in real life. And while online merchants can do a lot to emulate the physical experience… well, sometimes you just can’t beat the real thing.

glossier screen shot popup shop locations

This year, online makeup brand Glossier has opened pop-up shops and showrooms across major cities. The company uses these pop-ups as a way to promote their newly introduced international shipping. As they continue to roll out pop-up shops, fans can find out where they’ll be next by signing up for a mailing list.

Pop-up stores or local markets could be a great opportunity for you to promote your store, build your brand, and make connections in your local business community.

One final prediction

We’re saving our most obvious prediction for last: 2018 will be the biggest year in ecommerce history.

With online shopping becoming increasingly popular and accessible across multiple platforms and demographics, we encourage you to find new and creative ways of engaging shoppers and maximizing your sales. Good luck with all your entrepreneurial effort, and we’ll do our best to keep you in the loop.

Are there any trends you’re excited about? Any that we missed? Let us know in the comment section below!

Comments

  • Cindy Shumaker

    I am agree with live chat is best preferable source to communicate instantly i applied LiveAdmins live chat solution in my website my sale increase by 70% and also help to increase user stay time on website that in benefit for SEO.

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