Don’t worry. This is not another long list of speculations about what will be trending on the e-commerce market for 2018.
Yes, there are plenty of those. In fact, most of them make you wonder how progressive the industry has become.
The focus of this post will be on showing you which ones will become potentially disruptive trends in the e-commerce industry in 2018 and how you can capitalise on them today!
The following areas will be covered:
- What the trend is
- Data supporting the trend
- How marketers could profit from them
Let’s get started.
The top 2018 e-commerce trends include:
- Upsurge in voice search share
- AR for better-quality e-commerce UX
- Video will be part of mainstream content strategies for e-commerce brands
- Amazon as big player in digital ads
- Widespread adoption of cryptocurrency payment gateways
Upsurge in voice search share
Voice search has seen a drastic growth over the past couple of years. In fact, in 2018, it will become one of the leading drivers of innovation in the e-commerce industry. Well, it’s clearly difficult to talk about mobile without ever mentioning “voice search” since a growing number of consumers interact with their devices by using “voice”. Additionally, there are plenty of stats pointing to its alarming growth rate.
According to ComScore, by 2020, which is only 2 years ahead, 50% of online searches will be done via voice. This means that we will be seeing a drastic change in how consumers use the Internet and interact with content.
This data also confirms Deloitte’s report. It pointed out that 11% of smartphone users regularly use voice search. Also, more than half of those users have started using voice since last year. Google also backs this data and points out that 20% of online search within the United States has already used voice.
The argument that voice search tech isn’t yet ready is not true either.
The use of voice assistants is also exponentially growing. HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound report points out that on at least a monthly basis, 23% of consumers use Microsoft’s Cortana, 37% Siri, and 19% Amazon’s Alexa.
What about voice assistants? Based on CIRP’s data, in 2016 alone, half a million Google Home units were shipped, while Amazon as sold approximately 5.1 million smart speakers since 2014.
Now, you might be wondering:
The technology is coming. It is selling. However, will people really shift to voice?
Statistics might surprise you. Geomarketing’s post revealed that 65% of Google Home or Amazon Echo owners admitted that they can’t imagine going back to days without smart speakers. Moreover, 42% of that same group also stated that voice-activated devices have rapidly become “essential” parts of their lives.
Given these data, it isn’t any more surprising. The average typing speed is roughly 40 words per minute, while 150 words per minute is the average speech rate. This means you can easily have your queries answered using voice faster than having to type it.
The only bugs with voice search in the past involved nasty errors and voice assistants’ inability to recognise and understand complex phrases and terms. But that’s improving as well.
Google’s AI reported that it has a 95% human-level accuracy.
Now, how does this affect marketers like us?
Well, here’s a fascinating fact:
Voice search is more likely to have three times more local focus compared with normal searches. So, local businesses, pay attention!
You’d be surprised to know that voice search doesn’t actually exist.
Basically, our “voice search”, what we use and see today, is simply voice-to-text search. Our voice is converted to text. Then, it is processed the same way as any text search.
This is exactly how marketers can make the most of out of this trend.
Have you ever asked yourself where search engines like Google pull out data when a user “asks” a query to his or her voice assistant? It’s generally from search snippets.
Need evidence? Check Danny Sullivan’s tweet.
If this is how Google is doing it, then chances are Apple and Amazon are doing the same thing with Siri and Echo, respectively.
But, wait. What is a featured snippet?
A featured snippet, or also known as “direct answer” or “rich answer”, is a block of text or a summary of answers to a user’s query displayed on Google’s top 10 SERP. This data is extracted from websites optimised for this kind of query, or usually from sites ranking in the top 10. It includes the title of the page and its URL.
Check out the example below when “how to clean quartz worktops” is searched:
Note how the featured snippet of Diapol United Kingdom ranked above the first search result? According to recent studies, up to 50% of clicks are captured by featured snippet listings. In other words, on average, the #1 position on Google’s SERP receives 33% of the clicks for a single search.
An estimate of about one-third of snippets is shown by Google out of all searches. It’s safe to say that it’s about time to start pooling together those snippets, don’t you think?
Yes, you guessed it right.
To capitalise on this trend, the best thing you can do right now is to optimise your site for search snippets and questions.
Here’s how you can do it:
How to search and obtain featured snippets
Begin with structuring.
Depending on the query, there are 3 types of featured snippets:
- Paragraph—Summary of the answer is shown in a box either with or without an image. The example above is a paragraph snippet.
- List—These are mostly answers to How-to queries or steps or DIY processes. See the example below.3. Table—These snippets display the answer as a table. Check out the image below.
Before diving right into the real optimisation process, let’s note these stats:
- Featured snippets contain an average of 45 words
- Based on Google, featured snippets are mostly conversational how, what, when, why and long-tail queries (more often, voice queries fall into these categories as well)
- Data from Ahrefs indicated that above 99% of featured snippets are pulled from site belonging to the top 10
Does my site have a chance to get featured?
As mentioned earlier, approximately 99% of featured snippets come from those already ranking on the top 10 of Google’s SERPs. So if your site already has a high ranking for related search queries, chances are you will have a high chance of getting featured.
On the other hand, 70% of featured snippets also came from a website outside the first organic ranking according to Getstat. Hence, the page should be part of the top 10 but doesn’t necessarily require it to be actually #1 for the site to be featured.
Naturally, Wikipedia.org is still the most featured site. If you find that there’s Wikipedia that’s featured for your search query, it could be extremely difficult to beat. But that doesn’t mean you should not try your hardest.
Below are some of the search query types that get the most featured snippet results:
- DIY processes
Meanwhile, Ahrefs expanded this list to popular topics with the most commonly used keywords appearing in featured snippets:
Then again, below are the search query types that typically do not have answer boxes:
- Videos and images
So to answer the question and to sum up the abovementioned studies—Yes!
Your site definitely can be featured but ranking high on Google SERPs play a significant role in this. This means you need to improve your site overall search ranking, especially for your lower-hanging fruit or long-tail informational questions.
So if your niche is either health, finance or DIY, then you have the highest chances of getting featured.
How to optimise your site’s content for Featured Snippets
Below are ways you can improve and optimise your site’s content:
- Identify different kinds of opportunities of being featured
A good old keyword search is all you need. Multiple studies agree that almost all featured snippets are triggered using long-tail keywords. In fact, the more words typed into a search box, the higher the likelihood a featured snippet will result.
This means start researching your keywords.
When identifying keywords for your featured snippets, keep the following in mind:
- Begin with question-type queries since these are the easiest (what, why, how, etc.)
- Aim for information intent, not only questions.
If it helps, you can always seek the help of a keyword search tool which immediately provides you which queries trigger the most results. Serpstat is one example of this. This tool combines the keyword search with a featured snippet search and allows you to see which of your keywords can trigger search boxes.
Google search console is also another tool you can utilise. Just open Search Traffic and then click on the Search Analytics tab. Then, tick Clicks, Impressions, Position and CTR.
You can view which queries rank well including the impressions data and CTR.
- The right format
This is the first step in optimising your site’s content for all featured snippets.
Remember the 3 types of featured snippets?
Paragraph. List. Table.
For example, if you’re optimising your site for paragraph snippets, which will appear in the featured snippet box, the answer should have to be within a <p> tag.
Usually, paragraph featured snippets contain only text answering the user’s query. However, they are only in paragraph containers <p>.
Now, you can add a relevant query or question to your content. Then in a paragraph right below it in <p> tags, answer the query. Easy right?
You can also do the same for list or table featured snippets just right below a relevant query.
- Properly use H2 and H3 tags
This is a common problem. Don’t worry, you are not alone in this. Even seasoned bloggers sometimes when posting relatively long posts feel a bit too lazy to go through and structure their headers accordingly.
Nevertheless, keep in mind that H2 and H3 are significantly important for SEO. Search engines like Google use those headers in order to understand what your site’s content is. Furthermore, Google uses the said headers for featured snippets.
Say you’re optimising for a list post, ensure that all the points on your list are H2 and/or H3 tags. This will help your content be a featured snippet with header tags as points on the snippet list.
- Include summary section at the top of posts
Easily capture a number of featured snippets by adding a short summary section at the top of the topic summarising the content in either paragraphs or lists.
Notice how lengthy list posts, around 3000 words or more, contain summary sections at the top that include anchor links to each list item?
Not only are these for easy navigation, but also they’re forgetting a featured snippet.
So, here’s what you’re going to do—include a summary section at the top of your lengthy posts and make sure to link them to the blog’s content. Period.
- Make YouTube videos and create descriptions
It seems Google loves taking video descriptions for featured snippets.
As a matter of fact, according to Ahrefs, YouTube is the seventh most “featured” site.
And these are not the huge knowledge diagram panels when you search for Dua Lipa videos (no offense). YouTube has snippets for keywords like the following:
Where do you think that paragraph snippet is from?
Yes, they’re pulled from the video description:
It does pay to create relevant videos, upload them to YouTube and create descriptions answering common related queries.
Wow! These are actionable, aren’t they?
Now, let’s get on with the second trend that will shape the industry in 2018.
AR for better-quality e-commerce UX
You have to admit that ever since augmented reality (AR) was introduced a couple of years back, there has been a lot of hype about this technology.
Though, imagine this.
What if you can provide a store-like shopping experience with VR to your customers?
As it happens, Ikea is one of the pioneers to have strategically and brilliantly employed this breakthrough.
Ikea made us of AR and offered their customers the ability to view what their home would look if the furniture they want to purchase was there. Total genius, right?
But wait! This is only the beginning.
Imagine the likely innovations with AR in the e-commerce or any industry. Just think the hundreds of opportunities for the fashion industry alone.
A potential customer could “try on” and see how a pair of aviators would look on his or her face or how a dress would complement the shoes. Plus, customers could easily figure out the size of clothing that could fit them. Customers could also check if a red blazer would complement a recently bought dress. With AR, there are definitely endless possibilities.
How to provide an augmented reality experience to your customers
Video will be part of mainstream content strategies for e-commerce brands
Video content has been a constant in the industry for years now. Why?
It simply cannot be ignored. In CISCO’s VNI Complete Forecast CISCO’s, they predicted that approximately 80% of online traffic will be video.
That’s a whopping 80%! Video completely wins over every other type of content that you can imagine. This data is clear.
But you have to ask yourself: How much video can actually be used in your content marketing strategy?
According to the data, using video content in your marketing strategy should be frequent, like a lot!
How to get started with creating video content marketing? Simple. Getting started is fairly easy since there are tons of free tools you can use.
Lumen5 is a good example of this tool. You can smoothly create simple videos straight from existing blog posts. Plus, the best thing? For free!
Press behemoths like Inc and Entrepreneur are in fact making use of similar tools in order to automate the creation of video content.
Using video content allows you to also amplify your reach on social media and to repurpose existing content for your other channels. Not only is this better for user experience, but also this helps your site’s SEO, providing another avenue for traffic.
The 4th trend is more of a budding monopoly than actually a trend.
Amazon as big player in digital ads
Before anything else, Amazon is included in this list, not because Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, recently became the new “Bill Gates”.
Amazon is part of the list because they have continually expanded their product line over the past years and included more avenues for marketing that you can easily understand.
Undoubtedly, Google is the online advertising king.
However, in recent years, since the introduction of Business Prime and logistic centres, Amazon was able to build consumer trust, not only in the United States but also wherever they had presence in the world. This e-commerce company also offers hassle-free returns and provides quick delivery times thanks to its widespread logistics network.
Google used to be the leader of the buying funnel. Consumers would “google” product reviews and recommendations before purchasing.
However, Amazon turned the tables around through consumer trust building and offering options over the past years. Now, instead of using Google, consumers search Amazon first. Only if they’re unable to find what they’re looking for or are not able to find good options, they check with Google.
In other words, Amazon has become the “Google of shopping” in a number of B2B environments. Amazon has also blurred the lines between B2B and B2C.
And clearly, this trend has Google worrying, a lot.
Amazon has also been slowly building a digital ad network, which is more cutting-edge than Google’s.
Okay, here’s how it is.
Are you familiar with Amazon’s product line?
This marketing behemoth offers Audible, Twitch TV, Prime, Amazon Home Services, Kindle, Alexa, Dash button, Echo and Prime day (more on why this a product line later).
Many only view this only as Amazon’s product line up. But they’re more than that.
Take a wild guess.
Yes, they’re also advertising channels geared at each step of the sales funnel.
The robust Amazon display network, Twitch TV and Audible are for the awareness level, while Kindle, Amazon Prime Now, Fire ads and Home services are for the discovery level.
Meanwhile, for sales, there’s Amazon discount codes and coupons, events (Amazon Prime) and of course Alexa Deals. Now, for retention, save and subscribe options are also available with dash button and Echo skills, which are both gaining traction.
You get the idea?
Although Amazon’s network is still in its formative years, as part of the e-commerce space, you better be part of this network, ASAP.
How? Simple. Get to know and understand Amazon’s bourgeoning marketing channels, and fast.
Why not try this actionable checklist:
- Immediately get started with Amazon display ads
The AMS lets users run PPC ads on Amazon.com.
This is a really good option and opportunity especially if your brand is selling physical products.
Amazon offers 2 types of targeting:
- You can choose similar products or related ones and then target that way.
- AMS will provide keywords you can bid on according to the customer’s search and shopping history.
Note that for new advertisers, a USD 100 (₤ 72.15) is offered.
- Use Amazon Advertising Solutions
While AMS is focused on product sellers, Amazon Advertising Solutions (AAS) offers advertising options for all brand types.
You can use AAS to increase book sales, increase app downloads and be able to advertise external brands.
Yes, you can definitely advertise apps on Amazon, which clearly only a few know. Don’t worry, we didn’t either.
There are 2 options for app ads—self-service ads displayed on Android devices and on Fire or premium ads covering addition channels such as Amazon Prime, other than Kindle, Android and iOs devices, so you can boost install rates.
Widespread adoption of cryptocurrency payment gateways
It’s obvious that right now, there a lot of hype with Bitcoin, not to mention the exponential increase in the use of cryptocurrencies.
Think about this: Cryptocurrency will continue to survive so long as blockchain is alive.
A decentralised ledger concept has never before gotten so much traction.
Bitcoin may not or maybe a bubble. But there is an explosive growth on almost all major cryptocurrencies. You can consider this a fad if it only rose to popularity recently. However, cryptocurrencies have long been around for about 8 years now. And they are continually growing.
It’s high time that marketers need to recognise that this is no longer a fad and there is a need to capitalise on this.
Note this however: In 2019, cryptocommerce may or may not be part of the trend. But it sure is one of the top trends that will make waves in 2018.
It’s up to you if you will start accepting cryptocurrencies in your e-commerce store.
That wraps up the top 2018 e-commerce trends. While we do not completely guarantee that the abovementioned trends will definitely shake up the industry in 2018, we can definitely assure that these trends will have a major role in shaping the industry for e-commerce websites London in 2018, for the benefit of both consumers and marketers.