This past holiday season, internet sales for Wednesday through Black Friday surged 26.4 percent compared to last year, generating a whopping $12.3 billion in sales. From product browsing to checkout, consumers crave convenience and efficiency when shopping online, and this craving will only intensify as we move into the new year.
Throughout my tenure in the ecommerce, payments and technology space, I’ve seen trends wax and wane over the years but there are a few themes that remain consistent in all of them: innovation and creativity.
Brands need to set themselves apart from competitors in order to build a strong reputation amongst customers and keep them coming back to their online store to shop.
Below are three trends I see coming to 2019 that online sellers need to embrace in order to provide the shopping experiences consumers will be looking for online.
AR/VR technologies will become more integrated in the checkout process
When it comes to the future of checkout, artificial and virtual reality are two technologies that will eventually become more integrated into the process.
In a world dominated by emerging technologies like AR and VR, consumers are becoming more focused on experiences, according to The Guardian. In fact, an ISACA survey notes that 62 percent of US consumers believe that augmented reality enhancements would benefit their shopping experience.
How do these technologies benefit the overall shopping experience? To start, AR and VR could help the seller better showcase what they’re selling, and the end-user visualize what they’re buying.
Remember: convenience and efficiency are the goals for your shopper. This is especially true for digital goods sellers who are offering products that aren’t tangible, like software.
I like to think of the process inevitably beginning with the implementation of artificial and virtual reality, which can then lead to a visually appealing shopping experience for the consumer, and finally ending with a simple checkout process to complete one flawless transaction.
These technologies will eventually create more visually appealing experiences to shop for any type of product and reduce the frustration of a complicated checkout process. The result your business can look forward to gaining is more knowledgeable and satisfied customers coming back time and time again to buy your products online.
While consistent integration of AR and VR within an ecommerce platform is not expected until the distant future, your business can start thinking now about where these types of emerging will play a role in your processes and how your company will adapt accordingly.
Subscription services will out-perform the traditional business model
With the rise of subscription-based selling and usership, there’s a fundamental shift occurring in the way people purchase, especially when it comes to digital goods.
According to a McKinsey & Company survey, the subscription ecommerce market has grown by more than 100 percent a year over the past five years, with the largest retailers generating more than $2.6B in sales in 2016, up from $57.0M in 2011.
In fact, the same survey revealed 15 percent of online shoppers have subscribed to an e-commerce service over the past year, with 46 percent of respondents subscribed to an online streaming-media service including Netflix.
In order to keep up, online sellers must embrace and understand how this shift in purchase behavior will help or hurt their business model, and know when, if and how to make a change. Once a brand can identify what the customer is looking for, businesses can tailor their approaches to meet these expectations and deliver a quick and easy experience.
2019 will see a transition out of the traditional business model of simply selling a product or service to a customer into a preferred subscription-based service where remembering to pay a bill is taken care of and digital goods are easily delivered.
Dynamic commerce will be required for online sellers to stay afloat
Consumer expectations now require brands and online sellers to deliver a fast, easy, secure and personalized shopping experience from browsing to checkout.
Some consumers are even willing to pay the price for a top-notch experience, too.
According to a recent DataStax ‘Me Culture’ survey, nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) international adults are willing to spend extra to reduce their wait times for services they care about. Those willing to pay more will shell out, on average, 21 percent extra to reduce their wait.
To that point, 2019 will be the year of dynamic commerce, which allows the ability to have your customer-facing pages to dynamically update based on multiple factors, such as browsing history and geolocation.
While this process heightens the overall shopping experience, simultaneously it also allows a brand to showcase forms of innovation and creativity resulting in efficient purchases and satisfied customers. A personalized experience for the shopper is almost guaranteed from content to currency.
Online sellers need to act now to keep up with the changes to come. AR/VR will become more integrated into the shopping experience, particularly the checkout process and subscription services will out-perform the traditional business model.
Dynamic commerce will also be required to ensure a personalized customer experience and keep online sellers on top.
Get ready for these new and exciting trends to come. Your customers are ready. Are you?
Chris Lueck is CEO of FastSpring.
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