Online retail is an ever-evolving industry that continues to change from year to year. In the past, for instance, e-commerce purchases were made almost exclusively on desktop computers. Now, however, consumers use a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets, to purchase e-commerce products. So, what trends will define the e-commerce industry in 2018?

#1) Fast Shipping

E-commerce businesses must adopt new logistics to package and ship their products to customers more quickly. According to a study conducted by the United Parcel Service (UPS), nearly half of all online shoppers have canceled a purchase because the quoted shipping time was too long. Amazon already offers two-day shipping for Prime-eligible products, but the e-commerce giant also recently introduced same-day and one-day shipping in select cities.

#2) Social Media Shopping

Social media will become a key marketing channel used by online retailers to promote and sell their products. Facebook, for instance, allows online retailers to sell products directly on their Page. This is done using the shop section on a business’s Page. And the social network Pinterest is currently testing a paid service that allows businesses to sell products on the platform.

#3) Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) isn’t limited strictly to video games; it’s used by e-commerce businesses to connect with device users and sell their products. Tech-savvy online retailers are developing AR apps for mobile devices that allow users to see themselves using their business’s products. A user can see how a shirt or pair of pants looks when worn by using the retailer’s AR app.

#4) Automation

E-commerce businesses are now using automation to streamline their operations. According to a survey conducted by Ascend2, 91 percent of business owners say marketing automation is very important to their success. Using email and customer relationship management (CRM) software, online retailers can automate many tasks that were previously done manually.

#5) Voice Search

With smart speaker devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo taking over, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that voice search is an e-commerce trend for 2018. To capitalize on this trend, online retailers are now implementing voice search technology in their websites. There are different ways to do this, one of which is by using the HTML5 Web Speech API.

It’s impossible to predict exactly how the e-commerce industry will change over the next 12 months. But the trends described here are currently being used by online retailers, and there are no signs of them fading anytime soon.