By all accounts, 2018 was a big year for retail. Last year saw new tech clashing with old methodologies, with business trends wavering from old-fashioned to ultra-modern. Even after the dust has settled, it’s still too close to call which side won… So where does that leave the ecommerce trends of 2019?
We took a look at the latest data on consumer habits, spending trends, and shopping behavior to predict what will be the strongest influences on ecommerce in 2019. What we came up with are the 7 trends below — learn them now for a head-start in the new year.
1. Total U.S. Consumer Spending is Up
Let’s start with some good news: Americans are spending more money. According to the Balance, sellers have a reason to be optimistic this year, especially online retailers. Here are the specific stats:
- Consumer spending increased 3.5% in Q3 2018.
- Total holiday sales rose 3.9% in 2018.
- Department store sales are down 1% from last year (despite a 0.4% rise in holiday sales).
- Electronics and appliance sales are up 1.4%.
- Year-over-year retail sales are up 4.3%.
Although these increases aren’t enough to get you that yacht you’ve been hoping for, they still give enough breathing room for small-risk campaigns or expansions. Of course, the market has been volatile lately, so if you’re going to take risks, err on the conservative side.
2. Next-Generation HENRYs Emerge
Good news for luxury brands — a new batch of HENRYs have arrived. HENRY is an acronym for High Earners Not Rich Yet, referring to late-30s workers who are now hitting their stride in their careers, with “money to burn,” so-to-speak.
The oldest Millennials are turning 38 this year, so be sure to alter your marketing strategies to suit this generation’s specific shopping habits. Unlike past generations, Millennials — and Generation Z behind them — are more prone to immediate gratification than long-term investing, a dream-come-true for luxury brands.
However, earning the trust of Millennial HENRYs is no easy feat. Be sure to target their individuality and account for a diverse range of styles and preferences. If it’s one thing that Millennials look down upon, it’s “one-size-fits-all.”
3. Niche Marketing Continues to Succeed
One of the biggest advantages ecommerce has over brick-and-mortar retail is niche marketing. Because they cast a wider net, online stores can succeed and thrive in a niche market, whereas brick-and-mortar stores would fail without enough customers in driving distance.
If the idea of niche marketing in ecommerce interests you, feel free to read our article Top Ecommerce Niches of 2020. We cover the basics there in more detail than we have room for here.
For quick reference, though, here are some particularly lucrative niches in 2019 worth highlighting:
- Subscription Boxes — still on the rise, two years running.
- Fitness and Wellness — a broad industry, but with limitless room for specialization (see #7).
- Stylistic Apparel — as we explained above, shoppers under 40 place extra emphasis on individuality, so clothing sellers should account for different tastes.
- DIY Kits — seen as both fun and economic, do-it-yourself supplies are winning over more consumers than ever before.
4. Alternative Content Searches: Images, Audio, and Voice-Assisted
SEO was never easy, and it’s about to get even harder. Instead of just accounting for different keyword searches, we now have to consider new and different types of searches, specifically image, audio, and voice-assisted searches.
Recently, Google made updates to better incorporate images and videos in search results. For ecommerce, this means product photos will pull more weight than ever, so retailers should re-evaluate their SEO strategies for images. Forbes also attested that one-third of marketers have increased their output of audio-only content (like podcasts), although they didn’t cite any correlation with demand from users.
As for voice-assisted searches like from Alexa or Siri, we recommend choosing keywords based on how people talk rather than type; a subtle distinction, but one worth looking into. Because this trend has been ongoing for the last couple of years, we previously published a guide on How to Prepare Your Retail Website for Voice Search.
5. Hybrid Online and Offline Shopping
Although some have called it “phygital” in the past, we won’t subject you to that word. Instead, we’ll call it what it is — a hybrid from fusing ecommerce and in-store tactics for the best of both worlds.
For starters, brick-and-mortar brands can use the wealth of data online to better understand their customers. Websites facilitate collecting big data in ways physical stores can only dream of, attracting more traditional brands to online space. Even if their online offerings pale in comparison to their physical stores, they still benefit in analytics.
Conversely, historically online brands (including Amazon) are pushing their own physical stores to capitalize on shopper’s need to touch and see products in person. The crux between the two is technology — no matter who owns the store, we’ll see more and more smartphone interactivity and in-store shopping apps to maximize the customer experience.
6. AI Chatbot Tech Makes Leaps and Bounds
It seems AI tech is finally catching up with the ambitions of online store-owners. In the last few years, AI tech has made impressive — or scary, depending on your point of view — progress, so chatbots can start delivering on what they promise.
Chatbots seem like a natural fit for ecommerce. One of the biggest disadvantages for online stores is the lack of sales assistants to answer questions and offer guidance. Chatbots prove to be the best digital equivalent, being able to work tirelessly 24/7. And thanks to recent advancements, they can now mimic human conversations better than ever before.
If you reviewed chatbots a couple years ago and were unimpressed, it’s time to reconsider your decision. At least see what the newest models can offer.
7. Wellness Does Well
Call it progressive or call it a fad, but anything “wellness” touches turns to gold. Specifically, we’re referring to three big industries:
- Health food
- Fitness services and applications
- Life Coaching
The success of these industries suggests a greater trend in society of seeking self-improvement. Perhaps it’s because the free-thinking Millennials are now becoming a formidable purchasing power, or perhaps it’s society as a whole becoming more enlightened. Regardless, the numbers reveal there’s a healthy profit in personal health.
While the wellness industries are largely niche markets, most vendors can still take advantage of this trend through individual products. For example, you could offer a vegan version to your most popular snack, or a feature in your app that counts heartbeats or steps. You don’t have to pivot your entire business model; as any worthwhile life coach will tell you, progress is made with baby steps.
Which ecommerce trend are you looking forward to using most in 2019? Are there any trends you think should be on the list? We want to hear what you have to say, so share your thoughts below in the comments now.
Hop over to our post about 2019 ecommerce design trends if you’re looking to refresh your website this year.