Etsy senior product designer Catt Small, also a game maker, predicts that motion is going to be huge in 2018 and that
“In ecommerce, motion can be a signal of delight, personality, or urgency.”
“In games, motion attracts players and gives them useful feedback,” she explains. “It tells them what to pay attention to, when they’re doing well, and how they could improve. In
“Subtle animation will be a prerequisite. Use some form of movement to enhance the customer experience but don’t overdo it — it could annoy rather than improve.”
2. Better photography and videos
“Original photography remains a real challenge, but stay away from poor stock photos that will immediately cheapen your brand,” warns Paul Randall.
One way to add more
High-quality videos can also showcase your products in a real context. Paul Randall recommends experimenting.
“It’s increasingly a format people look for, and you have the added benefit of putting the content on YouTube to drive traffic that way,” he says.
3. Social shopping
Social shopping will have a massive impact in 2018, believes Jason Stokes, founder
“Pinterest and Instagram, two highly visual platforms, let merchants bring their products to their customers without their customers even realizing it.”
“Pinterest and Instagram, two highly visual platforms, let merchants bring their products to their customers without their customers even realizing it,” he enthuses. “In 2018, social media will be the perfect landscape in which retailers can create a buying scenario by showcasing their products on apps that customers spend most of their time with.”
Mark Kelso, director of Belfast-based web and marketing agency Glaze Digital, agrees and thinks that it will become common to purchase items through Instagram, which is still growing at a phenomenal rate.
“When you click on a particular part of an image like a piece of clothing, it would then bring up a modal window and allow you to purchase it there and then,” Mark suggests. “This would let you purchase the item without you having to leave your story or switch between sites or apps. That is the future for Instagram, I believe.”
4. AR and VR
Augmented and virtual reality devices are getting cheaper, led by Google Cardboard, which is practically free.
“We’ll see AR and VR become not just part of the in-store experience for customers, but part of the packaging experience with QR codes triggering ‘enhanced experiences’ of products, and even packaging itself being repurposed as a throw-away AR ‘device’,” he argues. “These sorts of experiences could particularly expand on the ‘try before you buy’ viewing of products in-home.”
Kelly Vaughn, web developer
“Imagine being able to test out what furniture may look like in your home or how a standing desk might best work in your office,” she suggests. “AR technology is even newer, but with companies such as Apple investing a lot of time and money into their ARKit, I think we’ll continue to see a movement towards really being able to test out a store’s products directly in your home before purchasing.”
Reports even show that over 70 percent of buyers would be more loyal to brands who incorporate AR as part of their shopping experience, as Rachel Jacobs, head of content and partnerships at Pixc, points out.
Check out Magnolia Market for an example of an app that lets you visualize home and lifestyle products in your home through augmented reality before you buy them.
You might also like: How Augmented Reality Is Changing the Way Consumers See the World.
Rachel Jacobs also believes that automation is the most effective way for online merchants to scale their
“Why spend precious time on manual tasks that deliver no tangible ROI, when you could use an automation tool to take care of it for you?”
Rachel recommends Shopify’s virtual assistant Kit, which takes care of automated email marketing, creates targeted social ad campaigns for Facebook and Instagram, and integrates with other Shopify apps.
As over 50 percent of online shoppers prefer using such messenger apps to contact businesses rather than traditional methods (email, phone or contact forms), there’s no reason not to consider chatbots for your online store.
6. Machine learning
Related to automation is machine learning, another big trend that continues to mature. Not only can you save time by automating tasks
“This is something we have noticed in the last few months,” says Shopify Expert and UX consultant Mark Kelso. “We reworded our abandoned cart emails and have seen an increase in the conversion, for some shops by up to 12 percent. We have made the email more personal and tried out different phrases. Soon shopping carts will use machine learning to make the conversion even higher. If you regularly purchase an item every three months, the system will remember it, and you’ll get an email asking if you would like to reorder the item based on when you previously ordered it.”
Jason Stokes, CEO of Eastside Co, says that
“Customers are turning to virtual assistants and visual search to find products and services,” he explains. “Technology moves at such a pace that it quickly becomes available to everyone, and even the smallest
7. Voice search
“Voice will gain more prominence in 2018 as voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa become common place.”
“Voice will gain more prominence in 2018 as voice assistants such as Google Assistant and Alexa become
Rachel Jacobs, head of content at Pixc, agrees and points out that over 40 percent of millennials have used voice search before making a purchase online, according to studies.
“Twenty percent of Google searches on mobile are
“When you take the projected increase in mobile commerce into consideration, optimizing your online store for voice search is a must in 2018. Make sure you take the time to understand your key customer persona, check out how they interact on your social media
8. Mobile commerce
Mobile will continue to gain an even stronger foothold in 2018.
“Past patterns of building an
“The primary activity will be on creating a top-notch mobile experience.”
Rachel Jacobs says that an estimated $600 million in mobile commerce are predicted for
For Shopify Expert Kelly Vaughn, the number one trend to watch is the continued movement towards using SMS to communicate with customers.
“Last year Shopify added checking out via your phone, so customers don’t ever have to enter in an email address, but this does create some issues,” she cautions. “How can you reach customers who abandon their carts but don’t enter in an email address? How can you target these customers with marketing if they only give you their phone number?”
Kelly thinks we’ll be seeing more integrations from marketing directly to your phone in 2018, but that email isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s still important to make sure you’re continuing to target customers via email campaigns as well.
9. Blockchain and cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies are more popular than ever with online retailers. Microsoft, Etsy, Shopify, and Stripe all support Bitcoin.
Rachel Jacobs thinks they will be a game changer in 2018, which she puts down to benefits such as advanced transactional security and virtually zero
“A handful of
Rachel believes that Blockchain, which manages transactions and currencies without the interference of central authorities such as banks, has the potential to revolutionize the entire
10. Easier checkout
Thanks to all the payment options that are gaining traction — Shopify Pay, Android Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, and others — the traditional checkout form is going to be less seen and less used in 2018, predicts Cynthia Savard Saucier, director of design at Shopify.
One-click purchasing will make online shopping faster and more convenient.
“Making sure your website is optimized for mobile is only the first step,” argues Rachel Jacobs. “Thanks to the expiration of Amazon’s ‘1-Click’ patent in October, we should expect the checkout process to become much simpler, making it ideal for mobile shoppers.”
“This is something I have noticed myself doing,” remarks Mark Kelso, director of Glaze Digital. “I will just purchase something within one click through Amazon Pay or Apple Pay. I feel all businesses will adopt this model now!”
“In the future, we will not enter any details, we will just click ‘buy’ and the rest will be automated based on your preferences. This will also lead to more impulse purchasing at a higher value.”
11. B2B embraces
It may seem odd but the way that wholesalers and trade customers work with each other has been traditionally over the
Gregor Vand, one of the founders and a developer at Pixelcabin, an
“We will also see an increase in the number of B2B platforms that allow customers to shop from multiple trade vendors at once,” he predicts. “This can present some UX challenges, as often each customer has a negotiated price with their vendor (that is, unique pricing for each customer) and the buying experience is much more functional, as opposed to
“Ensuring trade customers can quickly and easily order their goods day-in, day-out will be critical to B2B hitting the mainstream with
12. Omni-channel becomes more seamless and prevalent
Glaze Digital’s Mark Kelso has noticed that more and more customers want a complete solution to help negate multiple fees. It’s the main trend he’s witnessed recently.
“Customers now want a full service solution that links their online store with their physical store.”
“Customers now want a
Gregor Vand agrees and argues there are many shapes
“For example, smaller retailers could offer loyalty schemes seamlessly to their online and ‘offline’ experiences, and benefits are acknowledged in both,” he suggests. “Or a customer could browse online and is then able to reserve an item at an upcoming pop-up
“The physical store turns visitors into new customers,” he argues. “To increase the lifetime value of these customers, they are then redirected to the
Investing in physical stores also allows brands to have a more local impact and provide services such as courier delivery or in-store pickup.
You might also like: How Shopify Plus Partner
13. The rise of the community-led brand
Axel also claims that a new type of customer-centric brand emerged in 2017 that will explode in 2018.
“These brands usually sell only a few very well-made products, and offer their customers ways to easily discuss them on Instagram and Facebook, or at actual meetups,” he explains. “They let their customers express themselves freely and are certain of the quality of their products. They try to help their customers by answering them honestly. They want to start with a small number of customers and meet their
Axel names nutrition startup So Shape as one of those brands.
“Customers started sharing the results of their diet, so the company created a new Instagram account — @soshaperesults. These reviews are the perfect example of user-generated content. They not only convince new prospects to join them and buy the product, but they also answer questions because they feel they’re brand representatives.”
14. More delivery options
Last year on-demand deliveries grew significantly, and Mari Corella reckons we will see more delivery options in 2018.
“Same-day delivery is becoming an expectation.”
“Partnerships with delivery startups and leveraging physical stores as distribution centers allowed many retailers to offer delivery of their products in mere moments,” she says. “Same-day delivery is becoming an expectation, and retailers are looking to
15. Simplicity over complexity
Cynthia Savard Saucier, director of design at Shopify, thinks that we will see more brands investing in quality content over flashy tech this year, as retailers finally understand that their website is all about serving the customer, not themselves.
“While flashy technologies can be fun and exciting, they have to be used with purpose,” she argues. “For example, parallax should tell a story, slideshows aren’t always a proper design solution for all homepages, and motion and animation should help with spatial perception.”
16. Brutalism design aesthetic
Brutalism, which entered the mainstream last year, will be used by more
“Brutalism web design started as an ironic design trend but is gaining a lot of traction,” explains Cynthia Savard Saucier. “On the
You might also like: Major 2017 Web Design Trends – Reviewed.
17. Web performance
The performance, and thus user experience, of your
“Beyond frameworks, beyond libraries, beyond the latest design trends, it’s performance that ultimately matters the most,” says Jem Young, a senior software engineer at Netflix. “For
18. Brands lean
in to diversity
Diversity is set to make a bigger mark on
“Brands now finally understand that we’re not all white, 5’10 models wearing size zero,” points out Cynthia Savard Saucier.
“Brands now finally understand that we’re not all white, 5’10 models wearing size zero.”
She mentions clothing retailer Everlane as a good
Beauty and cosmetics brand ColourPop, meanwhile, shows swatches of makeup on different skin colors.
Test, test, test
Whatever strategy you’ll pursue in 2018, make sure you’ll test your shopping experience at all times.
“Get someone to go through the site for the first time,” recommends Paul Randall of Evosite. “Pay for a user test from the likes of WhatUsersDo or UserTesting, or ask someone you don’t know to give you their thoughts. You’ll always find something to improve or fix that you had never noticed before.”