UKFast chief on his top 5 predictions for eCommerce in 2018

UKFast chief on his top five predictions for eCommerce in 2018

The next 12 months are set to be an interesting time for eCommerce. We’re seeing increasing innovation in the sector to speed up processes and streamline the experience for customers, making online shopping easier, more enjoyable and faster than ever. So what should we expect in 2018?

Subscription services

A YouGov survey last year revealed that nine out of 10 Brits are now subscribers to their favourite stores rather than completing one-off transactions. However when you drill this down, it includes services like Netflix and Spotify, which of course lowers that number for direct ecommerce subscribers significantly. That being said, we see so many Graze boxes, Birchboxes and the like coming through the post here at UKFast, it’s clear that the team are jumping on the trend of convenient repeat deliveries too.

You can now subscribe to deliveries of everything from boxes full of comic-book memorabilia to your groceries and everything in between. There are clothing services building in popularity delivering monthly parcels filled with socks, shirts, tees or even full outfits. And for the everyday basics, Tesco has a subscription service for regular supermarket grocery deliveries.

Over the next year, I would not be surprised to see this growth continue and for more big names to adopt the model. Subscription services are recurring revenue models that make sense for building customer loyalty and repeat business, whilst making it more convenient for the consumer. Seems like a win for both sides to me.

Escrowed payments

In late 2017, online fashion giant ASOS announced a ‘buy now and pay later’ option enabling customers to purchase items, try them on and only pay for the items that they want to keep. Using independent payment company, Klarna, ASOS are leading the charge to tackle one of the biggest hurdles to buying more – the initial financial outlay for customers to try items on. This way, there’s no commitment for customers; they have the items in their hands to try on and feel, like they would in a store. I think we will see this starting to be replicated across more online retailers as 2018 progresses.

More of the same

Of course, there will be plenty more of the same. I wouldn't be surprised to see continued growth in mobile retail and in Click&Collect style delivery. Personalisation continues to give retailers the edge, encouraging loyalty and accepting that one size no longer fits all. This year, I expect to see more use of AI to really harness the potential of personalisation and its benefits.

As cryptocurrencies continue to mature and become an increasingly attractive alternative to traditional banking, it’s likely we will see more businesses start to accept this as a form of payment. Early adopters like Overstock.com have accepted the currency for some time and while it’s a way off being mainstream, I can see one or two eCommerce players beginning to accept crypto this year.

Safer, faster, smarter

It’s obvious that online shopping isn't a novelty anymore. Shoppers have higher expectations, lower patience and more options than ever. If you don’t deliver what they expect both in service and product, they can quickly and easily find an alternative.

It’s all about making it easier, safer, faster and smarter to buy. For 2018, that means making the most of the technology that consumers are increasingly using, in more innovative and personalised ways.

Speed

It always comes back to speed. Faster to browse products, faster checkout, faster dispatch and faster delivery. Search engines are obsessed with speed because they've seen user engagement increase when things get faster. Users search more and they stay on the internet for longer. Search engines significantly reward people who keep their users happy, so businesses have got no excuse for having a slow site.

Any eCommerce business in 2018 should focus on being faster in every aspect of their business.

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