Virtual carts filled with groceries. The ripples created by big box retail’s downfall. Voice shopping getting a little help from screens. Now’s the time to gaze deeply into the e-commerce crystal ball and uncover the tech-fueled trends that will drive online shopping in 2019.
But before delving into what’s trending online, let’s note one interesting shift in the opposite direction. The coming year will see even more integration between brick-and-mortar retail and e-commerce, according to Alice Fournier, VP of eCommerce and Digital Insights for Kantar Consulting.
“We’re seeing a lot of digitally native brands either opening a strong retail presence or launching pop-up showrooms in big cities,” she said. “Look for more connections between on- and offline, with brands using retail for more engagement.”
Further, to compete in the e-commerce dominated landscape, retailers are going small in an effort to fit in. Big names like Ikea and Nordstrom are introducing micro-concept stores, and others like Target, Sephora, and even Taco Bell are following suit.
Fournier cited a recent collaboration between Facebook and Macy’s to bring small brands born online into real-life retail.
“That intersection will be interesting,” she added.
For those who enjoy staying ahead of the curve, here are five trends to watch out for in 2019.
Reeling In The Fallout From Big Box Retail
Perhaps the most exciting e-commerce development for 2019 will stem from the fall of big box retail.
Consider this: Toys “R” Us is no longer in the shopping picture, and by 2019 almost all Sears stores will be gone, too That’s a significant chunk of consumer dollars available to be spent elsewhere, much of it online.
“It will be fascinating to see who will pick up the bulk of the holiday business this year and beyond,” Fournier said. “I’d expect that a portion of that category will drive additional online sales.”
Toys “R” Us is certainly not the only retailer that’s faced challenges. Best Buy is closing more stores; Sam’s Club abruptly closed stores earlier this year without warning; Bon-Ton Stores Inc. liquidated all of its stores this year; Gymboree in 2017 announced plans to close 350 stores; and Gap/Banana Republic will be closing 200 stores in the next few years.
With these big names in financial distress, look for this trend to continue.
Social Media-Driven Purchases
According to 2017 stats, there are 209 million U.S. social network users. Despite these numbers, many social media users still aren’t pressing the “buy” button on their social feeds.
But that may be about to change in 2019, said Meaghan Werle, Kantar’s senior e-commerce analyst.
“We’ve seen platforms like Snapchat and Pinterest rolling out retail experiences over the last year, with ads in Facebook and Instagram connecting you directly to consumer or retail sites,” she said.
But the catalyst for purchasing via social will be the ability to load your credit card information up into your Instagram or Snapchat account.
“It’s all about ways of making the checkout experience even easier,” Werle said, who also noted that 2019 would continue to see the rise of challenger brands on social platforms.
Social’s largest roadblock, Werle said, is that many people don’t associate social media with shopping.
“It’s a big barrier that should be overcome next year with more shoppable tags in social media feeds,” she said. The simple act of checking out with one button — as offered by PayPal, Amazon Pay, AliPay and Venmo—will drive shopping through social, which is primarily impulse-driven.
Venmo, in fact, takes the social aspects of commerce a step further. As more and more retailers—including Shopify merchants—add Venmo as a payment option at checkout, they not only offer the large millennial demographic a way to pay that’s as easy as sending money to friends and family. They also create the word-of-mouth marketing halo that comes when those buyers share their purchases with their networks.