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.
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.
Rise Of The Voice Assistants
Millennials and Gen Z’ers often occupy the spotlight for online shopping, but one demographic that’s regularly overlooked is seniors. While not usually early adopters, Fournier said, older people do eventually catch on to new tech. And Kantar has some interesting data on how shoppers are using voice devices.
“Older shoppers are more engaged with their voice devices for entertainment and music, but we think it may become a trend for shopping,” Werle said. “Voice is a much easier way for them to engage with online technologies.”
And across all demographics, the breakthrough for voice devices in 2019 will be the technology’s ability to interact with screens on smart speakers. Kantar’s research predicts that the visuals presented by products like Amazon Echo Show and Google Home Hub will help overcome the barrier for shopping online with voice assistants and eliminate the present uncertainty of using voice to order goods without being able to see the products on the screen.
Explosion Of Online Groceries Purchases
“There will be a much higher penetration of online grocery,” Fournier said. “Here in the U.S., it’s shaping up big, and it will be interesting how it will evolve as big retailers align with what shoppers are looking for in enhancing the experience.”
“Click-and-collect is going to be big in 2019,” added Werle, referring to the option of buying goods online and then going to a physical store to pick them up. She said to watch out forinitiatives from big players like Walmart, Kroger and Target.
Augmented Reality: Not Quite Ready, But Getting There
When IKEA began implementing AR back in 2013, the use of augmented reality in retail seemed ready to flourish: By laying digital information like product images, text, and video over representations of the physical world, AR would provide retail with a major opportunity.
Online shopping has undergone several significant transformations since Amazon revolutionized the industry almost 25 years ago. And as Internet use on a global scale — especially via mobile — continues its march toward ubiquity, market incentives will likely drive innovations that we haven’t even considered yet.
The year 2020 isn’t too far away, and we’re in for a wild ride if next-generation 5G networks achieve their promised super-fast internet speeds at the start of the next decade.