To help you prepare for the holiday rush and the following year of opportunities, here are seven e-commerce trends to pay close attention to in 2018:
1. Commerce through email will become vital to brands.
Disruptive companies like Rebel are revolutionizing how e-commerce brands can sell to their customers through email. Email already drives more revenue than all social networks combined, and it’s been incredibly efficient at driving visitors to a website. But by allowing customers to make secure purchases directly within their inboxes, companies like Rebel are poised to make email an even more powerful channel.
2. E-commerce and other departments will need to work together more closely.
If you look at my lists on social media trends, PR trends, or content marketing trends, you’ll see some overlap — that isn’t out of laziness. It’s because the focus on customer experience has pushed every department to prioritize gaining trust with customers, developing real relationships with them, and truly making their lives easier. Therefore, whether you are a director of digital or search or PR, you should be doing everything you can to align efforts to help your teams connect authentically with audiences and achieve your e-commerce goals.
3. E-commerce will focus on continued engagement.
In 2018, e-commerce advertising is going to continue to increase in expense, and becoming a media platform is going to be much more critical. Erik Huberman, CEO of Hawke Media and someone I work with and trust, says, “Brands that find ways to continue to engage their audience outside of just purchase points will start to gain ground because those who don’t will find the expense of bringing people back too great to compete.”
4. Credibility points throughout the buyer’s journey are now assumed.
As customers interact with your brand and consume content related to your industry, it’s vital to produce and distribute content that cements you as a trusted resource for them. Eighty-five percent of customers conduct research before making a purchase online, so it’s vital to really own your organic search results. Build out your content, and align it with your PR strategy to attract, educate, and engage customers as they’re researching their purchase decisions.
5. Personalizing and humanizing your brand will be a differentiating factor.
Disney was one of the first brands that really stood out to me as having a solid grasp of the power of personalization and how to use it. My family and I went to Disney World when my oldest daughter was 2 years old, and she got a personalized bracelet that — combined with Mickey Mouse knowing her name — made her feel like the most special person in the entire world. Technology is getting better every day, and that makes personalization a must, especially on customers’ e-commerce journeys.
6. The skills needed to excel in e-commerce are evolving.
When we started Influence & Co., I’d talk to e-commerce teams made up of people who had very specific skill sets. But as I mentioned earlier, departments are interacting more with one another, and everyone needs to be able to understand each other. At Content Marketing World this year, I saw more people from outside the industry than I ever have before: people from HR, PR, search, e-commerce, and more. When I asked some of them why they were at the event, they all gave roughly the same answer: The e-commerce world is evolving to affect other departments, so the team needs to have a diverse set of skills to maximize value.
7. Voice search is starting to be a bigger factor.
When Siri first came out, I didn’t think that I’d actually be buying anything with my voice online. I mean, how hard is it to use your phone to one-click an order? Recently, however, I was driving and heard my wife’s voice in my ear saying, “You’d better not ever text and drive again” (which is logical and absolutely correct). So it was that I found myself telling Siri to order a power cord for my office. I’m obviously not the only one to make this shift; it’s predicted that 50 percent of search will be voice search by 2020, and I only see that number rising and affecting the e-commerce world.
There are other digital trends affecting e-commerce that you will want to keep your eyes on, including such classics as mobile optimization, interactive content, and video. I don’t think I need to throw the stats around those trends at you — honestly, anything that improves user experience is something to look into.
But as you begin updating your strategy this holiday season, make sure you’re taking into consideration these booming e-commerce trends. So much of marketing is driven by what e-commerce is doing, so keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s coming will be key.
This article was originally published at Forbes.com, by author John Hall.