E-commerce Trends of Tomorrow: Insights for 2019 and Beyond
2018 has been an eventful year in the world of e-commerce. From Amazon announcing its new HQ2 locations to Walmart partnering with international e-commerce giant Rakuten, the online consumer economy has gone through quite a bit this calendar year. As Q4 draws to a close, one is tempted to ask “what’s waiting around the corner?” To get an idea of where e-commerce is headed, we reached out to the brightest minds around the industry to shed light on trends to look out for in 2019.
CMO at FreeeUp
FreeeUp is the top freelance marketplace for eCommerce companies to hire talented eCommerce and marketing talent online. FreeeUp recruits, interviews, and vets thousands of freelancers each week then provides businesses direct access to the top 1% of the applicants.
“In 2019, I strongly believe that we'll see higher demand from customers for personalization and a customized user experience. Across eCommerce, marketing, software, and social media, we'll see customers that aren't satisfied with the norm. With the number of companies and services in the space now, people are increasing their expectations. Similar to the early 2000s when Amazon set a new standard for shipping speed, customers will be looking for companies and services that offer them that personal touch.”
Co-Founder & CEO of Payability
Payability is a financing company that provides Amazon and e-commerce sellers with daily cash flow and growth capital so they can turn more inventory, keep up with demand and scale their businesses faster.
“If this doesn’t happen in 2019, I’m going to be disappointed, but I think there’s going to be an expansion in voice ordering, and all the systems will start to have eye-tracking associated in order to make them much more user-friendly. Instead of having to say Alexa 10 times in the middle of the conversation in order to wake up the machine, all home systems will wake based on “looking” at somebody. And even that minor reduction in friction will make us use those technologies so much more.”
Co-founder & Chief Revenue Officer at Sezzle
Sezzle is an alternative payment platform that increases sales and basket sizes by enabling shoppers to pay with interest-free installment plans at online stores. Consumers pay over time, but our merchant partners are paid upfront, eliminating the risk of fraud or non-payment.
“In 2019, we’ll see more retailers adding payment solutions that increase conversion and spend with young consumers with limited credit. By giving shoppers more flexible payment options, retailers will acquire more young customers and see a higher lifetime value as they purchase more items, more frequently.”
E-commerce Sales at OFX
OFX gives consumers and businesses a smarter, online and mobile alternative to existing currency exchange services. Since its launch in 1998, OFX has transferred more than $100B in 55 currencies across the globe. Drawing from two decades of experience, OFX Group is a leading global money transfer business, with over 300 employees and offices in San Francisco, Sydney, Toronto, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong, and Auckland.
“As e-commerce sellers continue to look for opportunities for growth, expanding into new overseas markets is a natural next step. However, expanding into international markets comes with added complexity including tax registration, banking needs, and connecting with a new audience. One trend I expect to continue is the increased use of financial products like the forward contract to lock in exchange rates. While newer sellers may not be aware of its existence, those that are more experienced in selling internationally are well aware of the advantages of setting a forward contract. Locking in profit margins and keeping things simple are the primary benefits. Sellers are in the business of selling goods, not profiting off of currency fluctuations. Without a forward contract, the exposure to fluctuations can dramatically alter profit margins. As sellers gain experience in international markets they will look to forward contracts to make sure they have healthy margins and remain profitable month after month for the long term.”
CEO & Co-Founder of Wibbitz
Wibbitz is an automated video creation platform that empowers professional storytellers at the world’s leading publishers, brands, and agencies. The platform leverages patented AI technology to simplify video production processes, helping content creators quickly and easily produce beautiful videos for every platform and channel. Creators have access to personalized video templates, intuitive editing tools, a team of in-house experts, and millions of licensed photos, videos, and soundtracks to ensure that each video captures their unique brand voice. Wibbitz supports video creation for over 600 partners, including Bloomberg, The Weather Channel, Reuters, A&E, TripAdvisor, and Birchbox. Wibbitz was founded in 2011 and has offices in New York City, Tel Aviv, Paris, and London. For more information, visit www.wibbitz.com and follow @wibbitz.
“We’re witnessing an increasing number of brands, especially in e-commerce, prioritizing digital video in their digital marketing and sales strategies. Video has the power to break the silos between social media and e-commerce and incite purchases (currently, 64% of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos), and this trend will continue to grow in 2019 - especially now that platforms like Facebook and Instagram are adding shoppable features to their video ad tools. To keep up with this demand, marketers will need to implement efficient video creation tools into their daily workflow, in order to create impactful, on-brand video content that speaks to its audience through every channel.”
Marketing & Partnerships Manager at SimplyVAT
SimplyVAT is an international tax agency specializing in European VAT as well as Canadian and Australian GST. SimplyVAT helps e-commerce sellers stay compliant globally. If you have any questions, get in touch with them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“2019 Will be The Year of Compliance! From fulfillment centers to marketplaces the crackdown is happening with zero tolerance from the tax authorities! As experts in an international VAT, here are our predictions for 2019.
Diversification of marketplaces will play a role in e-commerce next year. Sellers will look to move away from relying solely on one platform such as Amazon and will sell across multiple channels. Furthermore, we could see a rise in traders who use multiple platforms outperforming those who use only one platform. Marketplaces will become stricter on sellers who fail to adhere to VAT rules, especially in Europe. We could see an increase in suspended accounts and audits from authorities such as HMRC. The ease of movement of goods between borders will increase. Governments will look to improve the way in which the online trade of services and goods happen online. We will see a rise in the number of small and medium businesses who are operating in cross-border trade. With the growth of the e-commerce sector, more sellers will find it easier to tap into new markets. Amazon will require all sellers to have VAT numbers – regardless of whether the seller legally needs them or not. Finally, foreign exchange transactions will become cheaper, more accessible and easier, making it even smoother for e-commerce to trade globally.”
Director of Marketing at Nozani
Nozani is a specialized agency focused on helping e-commerce brands grow their business on Amazon.
“2019 will bring an even greater need for Amazon sellers to create a memorable brand. We will see Amazon make an even greater effort to reward sellers that place brand and customer experience above algorithm manipulations and "hacks". Amazon will begin sharing customer data with sellers, storefronts will become nearly as robust as a stand-alone website, and sellers that adapt to the new "brand-focused Amazon" will win in the long run.”
Michael J. Manzione
President & CEO of Rakuten Super Logistics
Rakuten Super Logistics (RSL) is a national leader in e-commerce order fulfillment and freight brokerage. RSL’s nationwide network of fulfillment centers allows leading e-commerce retailers to reduce shipping costs, improve order accuracy, decrease shipping times, and increase customer satisfaction. RSL’s state-of-the-art technology and cloud-based fulfillment platforms fully integrate with major e-commerce platforms that include Shopify, Amazon, Magento, WalMart Marketplace and eBay.
“Millennials and Gen Z will continue to push for free shipping and returns to be part of the purchase experience. Packaging presentation has become less important (going green) vs free shipping and returns. Free giveaways/promotional items will continue to rise in e-commerce. Inventory shift to more distribution points will continue to rapidly rise as demand for same day/next day delivery continues to grow.
Drop Shipping from Asia is becoming less attractive to Millennials and Gen Z as they opt for better quality and faster delivery. Many local brands are making returns easier and quicker for customers with changes such as free in-store returns for online orders; this lowers the cost for return shipping and also improves the customer experience. Because international brands cannot offer such a service and return shipping would be a large cost to the brand, consolidated drop off locations and lockers continue to rise in demand.”
CEO & Co-Founder of Skubana
Chad Rubin builds e-commerce businesses. Fresh out of college and Wall Street, he took his family vacuum business online and built his own direct to consumer e-commerce business called Crucial Vacuum. He grew it from 0 a $20 million dollar valuation in just 7 years. He happens to be a top 250 Amazon seller. He co-founded Skubana with DJ Kunovac and built one of e-commerce’s hottest operational software.
“2019 is the year the e-commerce landscape will evolve even further. Amazon will still be a dominating force and online shopping will continue to be driven by on-demand delivery. However, we believe new marketplace competition will be formed such as Google Shopping Actions (Google's own marketplace) along with other large big-box stores creating their own marketplace, enhancing their catalog and also enriching the online shopping experience.We also anticipate Facebook/Instagram and Uber to double down on their e-commerce strategies with disruptive D2C brands continuing to get acquired. Let the games begin!”
Director of Product Management at Klaviyo
Klaviyo helps growth-focused e-commerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
“Next year we're going to see two things happen. First, businesses are going to increasingly move to a single platform to take care of all customer-facing communication (email, mobile), list growth/customer data collection tools (e.g. sign up forms, surveys, etc.) and their analytics/reporting (performance and Business Intelligence), which will help reduce costs and make it easier to ensure that their data is clean, usable and easy to access/share.
2019 will also be the year in which more businesses reject contracts. Contracts are difficult for growing businesses to commit to because their cash flow is not always clear and they want the flexibility to decide what tools work best for them and what don't without committing for long periods of time. Amazon will continue to take more market share and will continue to try to build tools for brands their proprietary goods on Amazon which is a seductive trap...once your customers get used to buying your products on Amazon, they will likely not come to your store unless you have the same fulfillment/shipping speed and return flexibility.”
Director of Seller Partnerships at Teikametrics
Teikametrics is transforming how sellers grow their businesses. We empower third-party sellers with the data, insights, and tools to build successful brands. Our passion is creating lifelong relationships through innovative software and world-class service.
“In 2019, Whole Foods will accept returns from purchases on the Amazon marketplace.”
VP of Marketing at Shopgate
Shopgate offers everything online retailers need to be successful in mobile. Our leading software-as-a-service (SaaS) enables online stores to easily create, maintain and optimize native apps and mobile websites for the iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets.
“2019 is the year that omnichannel becomes a reality for the majority of retailers. Mobile apps will bridge the gap between online and offline. Apps have already become the dominant mobile channel for sales, and for good reason. With mobile technology advancing at an unprecedented rate, consumers no longer dream of cool shopping features—they now demand personalized shopping experiences on their most-used devices. After all, if an app uses augmented reality, why should you go to a store to try on shades of lipstick? If an app uses artificial intelligence to visually search inventory, why would you take time to find a product on a website? Consumers are flocking to mobile apps because of these conveniences and more, including effortless payment and lucrative deals from push notifications. Any retailer who does not have a mobile app is already behind, but will certainly feel the pain in 2019 and beyond.”
Head of SMB Partnerships at Yotpo
Yotpo is a commerce marketing cloud that provides brands with the essential marketing tech stack they need to win in a customer-centric world. Yotpo provides brands with everything they need to win in a customer-centric world. Yotpo’s suite of integrated solutions for reviews, visual marketing, loyalty, and referrals helps commerce companies accelerate growth by enabling advocacy and maximizing customer lifetime value.
“Offline will continue to be a growth channel for digital-first brands, focusing more on experiential rather than purely transactional. Whether it's through pop-ups, permanent locations, or third-party retailers, eCommerce natives will push the envelope on experiences that will expand their reach, build buzz and drive loyalty. Partners and technology innovation will play a critical role in supporting brands in this effort. For example, loyalty providers will need to make sure programs extend to offline purchases. Brands might need to make social proof, in the form of reviews and user photos, more readily accessible to consumers in their showrooms. And interesting collaborations will present opportunities to cast a wider net or disruptive experiences.”
Social Media Manager at Companybox
CompanyBox provides end-to-end choices that maximize your brand impact and help you sell more products. Their website gives users the ability to design digitally printed, branded packaging that elevates presentation with a turnaround time of 10 business days. CompanyBox creates and prints the best custom package boxes, POP mailers, and sales and marketing kits—all without fees for dies, printing plates, or other setup fees—at market-leading prices
“E-commerce needs packaging. But instead of serving the simple task of transporting goods from one place to another, a package can be part of the customer experience. You don’t have to look further than the unbelievable number of YouTube channels or Instagram stories dedicated to unboxing to see how important package design can be for your brand.
Consumers are now looking for more than just the product itself, they want to be entertained. Done right, a box can offer a new experience, heighten the sense of anticipation for that unboxing experience and encourage others to share more on social media.
Packaging is everywhere and it’s constantly changing. 2018 was filled with floods of color with designs overtop (think of a solid blue box with bold geometric shapes) but with the adoption of minimalism across design categories, we see 2019 leaning toward a more modern, minimalistic style with more careful use of white space and colors. We also see a lean toward personalized packaging, the use of inside printing and more careful consideration for packaging size in order to be eco-friendly and save on shipping.
Nara Skipper is the social media strategist for CompanyBox, an online design site aimed at making custom packaging available to everyone.”
In 2018 we saw e-commerce expand in nearly every imaginable way. From retail giants like Walmart expanding their online and international reach to Amazon expanding its physical headquarters to the greatest city on earth, there have been major moves around the industry. Mobile use continued to skyrocket and Black Friday numbers were some of the largest we’ve ever seen.
In 2019, expect the trend of integration to continue at every level of online buying and selling. The lines between social media and e-commerce will blur increasingly as customers will be able to interact with brands through multiple channels and touchpoints. Regardless of where the industry takes us in 2019, you can count on the team over at Seller’s Choice to have your back.