In 1994, someone sold a Sting CD to a friend on NetMarket as the first verified e-commerce sale. By 2020, e-commerce sales will top four trillion dollars.

With e-commerce continuing to represent bigger slices of the total retail market, companies are jostling for market shares like never before. E-commerce changes as fast as the internet does; keeping up with trends isn’t the easiest, but a modern website design and clear product descriptions that appear on-trend could land you the winning postings that rack up clicks, stars, and sales.

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Here are 4 trends that will shape e-commerce in 2019:

1. B2B Market Solutions to help Smaller E-Commerce Succeed

In traditional retail spaces, if you want to compete with a giant, you open a store next to them or on the other side of town. Competing with e-commerce giants is a different battle entirely. You need to find ways to get eyes on your product, browsers onto your page, and products into consumers hands. Traditionally, the logistics of getting frontpage search space, consumer trust, and processing online payments set up large paywalls for emerging businesses.

Increasingly, small market businesses are finding B2B e-commerce solutions for their own e-commerce sales. Shopify, Wordpress, and freelance markets, help small e-businesses set up and run professional sites. The explosion of B2B shipping companies allows companies to outsource their shipping logistics to another business, delivering their products to consumers at Amazonian speeds and price points without the Amazonian infrastructure.

People shop online because it offers selection, ease of access, and quicker purchasing. Few things slow down e-commerce more than the shuffle for credit cards. Systems like PayPal, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and Google’s new Web Payments API will increasingly allow smaller marketplaces to compete with the giants.

We love Amazon because it stores our billing and shipping information, allowing us to snag goods in a one-click order. Web Payments allow trusted payment integration into any website, bringing the speed and validation of the giants to smaller companies and websites.

2. Smart Experiences and Personalized Products

Everyone shouts about the “ease of access” and “comfort of home” that e-commerce offers consumers. While it has never been easier to get someone to show up to your store online and look at your products, it has also never been easier to leave. Brand engagement requires smart experiences and personalized products to hook consumers and prevent them from clicking away from you just as fast as they clicked to you.

You can’t visit most retail websites anymore without AI and chatbots offering to help. Sometimes the AI is disguised like a real person sitting opposite the computer screen, but more often than not, companies are being upfront about their chatbot and AI solutions to consumer FAQs. They can’t handle everything, but they can field simple questions that consumers might have.

Data is big business, and while consumers continue to worry about how their data is used, most consumers also want their data to be used in ways that make their online and e-commerce experiences more personalized. If you have to see ads, why not see ads that are relevant to things you care about?

In addition to these smart experiences, the e-commerce structure allows for personalized products at higher rates. The UI of websites allows consumers to tweak various parts of products before purchasing, allowing the company to perform the consumer’s desired customizations on the product on the backend and then fulfill the shipment.

Both smart experiences and customizable products make companies in 2019 feel more personable, and the companies that will win the e-commerce section will be able to leverage these ideas to connect with consumers in new ways.

3. Hybrid Business: Between Brick and Mortar and E-Commerce

Amazon’s “4 Star Stores” are brick and mortar experiences that allow you to interact with their best selling products. The stores are built like their website, using similar language and design, integrating product data and even location-based search and purchase data to pick products to display.

As e-commerce continues to dominate, and as every major retailer jockeys in the online marketplace, the meaning of brick and mortar stores will continue to change. Online businesses, like Amazon, will continue to integrate online and locative retailing; traditional brick and mortar places, like Walmart and Target, will continue to boost their online marketplaces to compete online. You’ll see both sides continuing to get more creative with shipping speeds, in-store pickup, and seamless experiences that integrate digital spaces with physical ones.

In the world of smaller businesses, trends like pop-up shops, festivals, shows, and markets allow online brands to curate a physical presence without the financial gashes that have traditionally kept them out. The rise of public markets in major United States cities has cleared ground for smaller retailers to display their goods in hip locations that turnover influencer type traffic.

A recent survey showed how the permeation of in-store and online shopping experiences is driving sales decisions in both marketplaces. Over 60 percent of consumers today will take blog or social media postings into account when making purchases in traditional retail environments. The key to e-commerce is brick and mortar, and the key to brick and mortar is e-commerce.

4. The Next Evolution of Social Media

Individuals don’t buy Google ads, put up billboards, or make commercials about themselves. Individuals post thoughts on Twitter, photos on Instagram, statuses on Facebook, and stories on Snapchat. Social media marketing has become an ever-present way to spread information about consumer goods. When someone posts a picture of themselves skiing, we understand this as personal branding, not unwanted advertising.

Brands in 2019 are leveraging social media for e-commerce more and more. In addition to simply offering new ways to advertise, platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have rolled out direct to consumer shopping methods. Instagram has shoppable stories, and Snapchat has rolled out Collection ads.

Instagram’s shoppable posts and stories allow you to complete an e-commerce transaction without ever leaving the app. Snapchat’s collection ads allow brands to post stories of quick-hit information and video about their products, engaging consumers in the same way their friends do.

While the term “influencer” generally applies to D-list celebrities with huge numbers of followers on one or more social media platforms, the truth is, everyone’s an “influencer” to the people in their circle. Sure, it might be super valuable for your brand if an influencer plugs your product to their 10,000 followers. It’s also valuable if someone who isn’t on your payroll posts a picture of themselves in a Patagonia shirt to their 100 followers.

The importance of social media in e-commerce is expanding from advertising to wholistic shopping experiences, with branding, product reviews, and now even ways to purchase.

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E-commerce sales will continue to climb, and the businesses that will win the e-commerce space in 2019 to gain that new market share will be able to leverage B2B solutions, deliver smart experiences and personalized products, mobilize hybrid business models, and integrate themselves into consumers lives through inbound marketing in the social media sphere.

B2B solutions allow smaller companies to deliver the speed, shipping, and professionalism of the giants without cutting paydays. Smart experiences and personalized products help brands connect with consumers in the crowded space of the internet. Hybrid businesses increase engagement by meeting consumers in digital and physical spaces. And new social media strategies take you from beyond branding to selling right within the social media space.

On a platform where change is the only constant, it is easy to get caught up in the mess. The e-commerce space is crowded, but fortune favors the bold! No amount of flash can replace good old fashioned fire. Leverage the right trends to deliver a quality brand, and consumers will take note.

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