The past 12 months saw a record year for UK online spending, with sales exceeding £28bn in the first half of 2018 alone.
With an online retail sector that continues to grow year on year, but that isn’t without its risks and challenges, how can businesses keep up the momentum as we begin 2019?
At a UKFast event in Manchester, eCommerce experts discussed their predictions for 2019, and how retailers can harness tech trends to increase turnover.
1. Progressive Web Applications will overtake native apps
A Progressive Web App (PWA) is a condensed file version of your website that presents an app-like user experience, but doesn’t require the storage space of a conventional app.
PWAs can easily be kept up-to-date, adapt to any device display and function in low-connectivity or offline environments. They are also discoverable by search engines and so contribute to your website’s SEO.
Director of International eCommerce at CHO Fashion, Gareth O’Rourke, said: “With many firms already catching onto the PWA trend, businesses that don’t adopt this technology will see drops in organic traffic which ultimately affects the bottom line.”
2. Subscription-based models will become more commonplace
Subscription-based models, which allow customers to subscribe for regular deliveries of a product or service through monthly or one-off payments, is a trend we will see boom in 2019, according to Business Development Consultant at CTI Digital Jonathan Ward.
Ward said: “Subscription-based services generate very strong business models. They’re advantageous not only from a customer loyalty perspective – guaranteeing repeat purchases – but you can also forecast revenue more easily because you have a reliable customer base for 6-12 months at a time.”
3. Businesses must automate to stay ahead
Gareth O’Rourke also argues that automation is key for any eCommerce business looking to increase productivity and profit in 2019.
He said: “To efficiently use resources, reduce costs and make the consumer experience slicker, automation is absolutely essential.”
Leading retailers have already demonstrated the positive impact of automation. AI and data firm Peak stated that retailers using AI are growing 30 percent faster than those who aren’t – with big retail brand Footasylum reporting a 75% reduction in cost per social click and a 28% increase in email revenue achieved through the use of AI.
4. Augmented Reality facilitates growth
Simon Wharton, Director of Business Strategy at leading eCommerce agency PushON, believes that AR can bring a new lease of life to our highstreets in 2019, and presents the opportunity for retailers to expand their reach both online and offline.
Wharton said: “Retailers have the chance to create a shopping journey that is thoroughly experiential, where you visit a store as more of a social event to experience products through Augmented Reality and omni-channel technology.”
As we head into a new year, it is clear that providing a high standard of customer experience and seamless user journeys remain the key focus for online retail strategies moving forward.
The online marketplace is flourishing and UK businesses must take advantage of this environment that is filled with opportunity.