The Trends That Defined E-Commerce in 2018

Posted on December 31, 2018

A new year is upon us, which presents the perfect time to reflect on the year that was. Here are five significant shifts in the e-commerce landscape over throughout 2018:

Amazon private labels expand

Amazon is well into the process of pushing brands out of its marketplace. Of course, that’s not how Amazon would characterize it, but that’s exactly what the online retail giant is doing via private labels. There’s no official record of Amazon private labels, but the number reportedly eclipsed 100 this year with no signs of slowing down. 

The strategy with private labels is, quite obviously, to undercut e-commerce sellers on the site via better prices and favorable product placements. And it’s working. The private labels were projected to hit $7.5 billion in sales this year and reach $25 billion by the end of 2022.

Walmart making its rise

Walmart’s e-commerce presence was on the rise all year as the corporation continues to shift more of its focus online. An end-of-the-year retail forecast from eMarketer even had Walmart overtaking Apple as the third-largest e-commerce retailer in the U.S. for the year. Overall, Walmart’s e-commerce revenue increased by had nearly 40 percent. Only Wayfair, which is strictly an e-commerce business, experienced a higher percentage of online sales growth in 2018.

A new way to grocery shop

A significant part of Walmart’s e-commerce surge has been a result of the online grocery movement. And Walmart isn’t the only company seeing the grand opportunity with an estimated 30 prominent nationwide retailers now offering the option to buy online and pick up in store. This year, such purchases were up 47 percent from 2017. That significant increase in 2018 is just the beginning, with online grocery sales expected to quadruple by 2023.

Mobile’s momentum continues

It’s becoming increasingly clear mobile is the future of e-commerce. According to eMarketer, mobile accounted for nearly 40 percent of all e-commerce sales in 2018. Within the next three years, purchases via mobile are expected to be the majority. Optimizing for the mobile experience is very much a high priority across nearly every category in e-commerce.

Advancements in AR

Nearly everyone has items they’d still rather buy in-store than online, largely because there are just some items we want to see first. Augmented reality is helping e-commerce change that. IKEA Place is an app that allows a customer to virtually place furniture in any room. Sephora experimented with an AR experience through Facebook Messenger that allowed consumers to try a product on before making a purchase. Nike and Kia dabbled with similar AR experiences. The technology made vast advancements in 2018 and should continue boosting online sales in the future.