By the end of 2018, Magento launched the newest 2.3 version, that includes never-before-seen features that will define the Magento experience for the developers, vendors and their customers for 2019. Based on what Magento already has the out-of-box solutions, we will suggest what trends will shape the way online shopping in Magento-based stores works from the inside and outside in the nearest future.
The first trend is no new trends in eCommerce
Since 2018, the way of conveying online sales, conversion tactics and the ways of serving customers remained and will remain pretty much the same. Customers love to shop fast and make a purchase decision quickly based on precise recommendations. The seamlessness of the experience the merchants give to their customers prevents them from having the anxiety after shifting from one step of order placement to another.
As for the store administrators and developers, the primary focus for them is still predicted to be on going further in mobile optimization and responsive design, the implementation of artificial intelligence, multichannel sales, and smarter inventory and shipping.
AI means personalized experience and the availability of the chatbots, leaving fewer chances for potential customers to give up in their search for an ideal product. Multichannel sales means giving your customers the freedom to make a purchase decision anywhere besides the online store. Multichannel inventory allows to pick up their order where it is convenient for them.
Mobile friendly, not just mobile optimized
To be shoppable, an online store should not simply fit the smallest screen, it should operate there faster than it does on PC. The word ‘Faster’ here doesn’t necessarily means the loading speed, but rather how convenient and intuitive it is for the customers to push the buttons, fill in forms and make payments. Mobile web experience finds little to no customer interest with the lowest possible 2.3% of conversion rates, while mobile apps stand at the winning 6%. But can a small business afford an app? Will their occasional customers download and install it for the sake of a single purchase?
Right before 2019, Magento made a strategic move by enabling Progressive Web Apps in the Magento 2.3 core. Basically, PWA can optimize online stores to look and work like apps on mobile, but based on web technologies. With PWA, Magento is aimed to solve a few constant struggles that stop merchants from providing excellent mobile experience: loading and browsing speed, ‘forced’ app installation and offline usability.
Here are the advantages of PWA that help to win customers:
- Cheaper than creating a dedicated app. A responsive website is affordable for smaller merchants and customers can use it right away.
- Accessible via any browser. Customers can access the PWA-powered store on mobile without downloading an app.
- ‘App-like’ experience for the customers. Even if the mobile network is unstable, the shopping process won’t be interrupted by a page reload, and all input data and search results stay unbothered.
- Desktop friendly. PWA works on desktop browsers, making it available for any type of devices like tablets.
- Push notifications. Just like an app, PWA can re-engage the customers in real-time messages.
- SEO. A PWA-powered mobile website is just as SEO friendly as any other responsive website.
One way or another, next year a mobile version remains a must to gain a few more finished conversions.
‘Checkoutlessness’: Letting the customers pay before checkout
All efforts in improving the customer experience online are put not to add more features, but rather to replace the ones that cause inconvenience. And you may be surprised at how stressful a checkout is, in spite of being an inevitable step. Every time at checkout, customers are forced to stop to find their credit card and spend some time filling in the forms. And this is not the worst. When they got a single digit wrong, and they have to redo it. The worse is only when the page suddenly reuploads.
No wonder customers have enough time at the checkout to change their mind about the item they are trying to pay for. But does the checkout have to be obligatory?
Placing an order without checkout details
The customers struggle with the traditional process of checkout because it is too much work. The solution to this exists for a long time: accepting digital wallets.
At the moment, there are four of them accepted worldwide: PayPal, Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Apple Pay. there are also regional versions of digital wallets. These wallets already contain payment details, which allows people to make a purchase with two clicks or touches instead of almost a hundred (!) to enter details and proceed them.
Magento already works perfectly well with PayPal already integrated, and grants access to other other wallets like Google and Apple Pay via the official extension.
As a merchant in 2019, you have a very limited time to keep the customer focused. To succeed in online eCommerce, the customer lifecycle has to be as tightly planned as possible.
Personalization delivered by Artificial Intelligence
This is yet another trend that remains powerful both in Magento and eCommerce as a whole. AI closes the gap between the individual and shopping experience of the user. For a few years already Magento is implementing technical possibilities to tailor the online store behavior to the specific customer that is using it. There are more and more extensions at the Magento marketplace that, combined with native Magento features, can create unique offer scenarios.
When the competition is so high, as a merchant you don’t only need the customers that are yours. You also need hesitant customers and clueless customers to get closer to purchasing. AI persuades the first ones and educates the second ones. How?
- Personalized recommendations
AI calculates what this individual may like based on their previous purchases or behavior in the store and suggests them products or actions.
- Conversational interfaces
Funnily enough, AI-chatbots can give the store a very humane touch to any store. They can handle any purpose like customer support or shopping assistant, and give the customer the feeling that they won’t be lost or abandoned.
- Context-based search
Magento supports Elasticsearch, which enables site search with filtering, and with AI site search not only uses product attributes as a factor, but also the relevance. This way customers have more chances to see the products they might enjoy.
- Omnichannel support
AI has the capability to manage more data than any human ever and to remember where everything is and how it works. AI interfaces can be used everywhere across online stores, social media, mobile apps and even work as assistants in physical stores.
Because the intermediary that stands between a customer and a product is dismissed online, everything human-centric in 2019 will stand a chance in online business.
Enhancing security with 2FA and CAPTCHA
Security is both a trend and a necessity for a complex CMS platform, since 62% of all Magento stores have a vulnerability. Existing in a form of extensions only, extended security finally appeared In Magento 2 as a native feature. The users finally gained the lacking opportunity to protect the admin panel with the most effective security tool, Two-factor authentication.
This is what you can have and configure having out-of-box Magento 2:
- Improved hashing algorithms for passwords protection
- Better XSS attacks and clickjacking exploits prevention
- File ownership and permissions reconsidered
- Four options of two-factor authentication (via call, SMS, token, touch, generated codes)
- Implemented Google reCAPTCHA
Approaching the security as a complex
This year, Magento team will for sure continue working on neverending security improvements. What is clear, you can’t set back with only one security feature enabled, hoping it will protect the store from all malicious things that are out there. Every security measure can be outsmarted, but what if there are ten of them at the same time?
The more obstacles you set for the intruders, the less chances they have to even try hacking you. Magento is extremely flexible, so by coding you can fit as many features as you can imagine. However, the demand for security solutions in Magento community led to development of all-in-one extensions like Security Suite. IP Whitelisting, SMS codes, Admin Logger and advanced password requirements, you name it, it is already there.
Blurring the line between online and offline retail
For those who are on the other side of the screen, fulfilling the orders placed online, there is another feature that engineers considered worth implementing in Magento 2.3. Multi-source Inventory is an omnichannel inventory management tool designed to reduce the costs and improve the operational efficiency of order processing.
On Magento 2.3, the merchants will be managing items from more locations, without extensions and complex configuration. Besides multiple manageable stock sources, the system got an updated reservation mechanism. Reservations and stock inventory are now separated, eliminating the possibility of a stock error or ‘overbooking’.
Working towards ‘I-want-it-now’ order fulfillment
What Magento targets with this update:
- Easier work with third-party distributors and drop shippers
- More detailed inventory tracking for each source
- Prioritizing some inventory sources over others
- Easier integration with third-party inventory systems
Omnichannel retail is a possibility for shop owners to convey their customers from one sales channel to another if such necessity arises. For example, a customer can order online and pick up their order themselves at the store. Or, if the product is sold out online, with the new enhanced inventory the seller can direct the customer to the physical store or another location. This way, customers are not lost, which is vital in the competition retailers have today.
To Be Continued
As a platform, Magento continues evolving towards personalizing the experience. The trends above show will customers will still fall for personalized experiences, mobile optimized stores, and convenient checkouts, and the merchants will redistribute their resources for customer retention, rather than for fast revenue growth.