We've always got our eye on Amazon here at Clipping Path India. And for good reason. Look at their revenue stats:

So that's why we're looking ahead, trying to anticipate what will change on the ecommerce platform in the coming year and how that will affect merchants and online brands alike.

Based on the trends we've researched, and input from a few industry experts, we've put together a list of five Amazon trends to monitor in 2019.

Among them? Efficient packaging, brick and mortar and personalization. Check it out:

1. Products and packaging will be redesigned to be Amazon-friendly

One great contributor to Amazon's success is Prime's free two-day shipping. Not only do consumers expect fast shipping, but they're conditioned to expect it to come for free.

Laundry detergent brands like Tide and Seventh Generation have redesigned both their products and packaging to help accommodate Amazon's shipping promises to shoppers. Less water in the product formula and opting for cardboard over plastic in the packaging makes for more lightweight packages — and lower shipping fees.

Plus, 71% of consumers prefer cardboard packaging to plastic anyway, according to one survey. The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of shoppers are influenced by packaging in their purchase decision.

The Tide Eco-Box also touts the "greener" decision to use paper-based packaging instead of plastic. "It uses 60% less plastic and 30% less water vs the comparable plastic bottle (150 oz Tide Original)," the site says.

So how can you accommodate Amazon while also preserving the unboxing experience for your customers? "Going for simple cardboard structures and keeping packaging dimensions to the barest minimum is the way to go," says Mark Velarga, marketing manager at PakFactory. "It reduces the weight of the packaging, thus minimizing cost as well as material waste."

And while you might initially think this will take away from the customer experience, Velarga points out the opposite. "It'll create a more 'frustration-free packaging' experience," he says, and recommends mailer boxes or slotted containers for this type of packaging.

To stay authentic and differentiate your brand from your competitors, spruce up the cardboard with customizations. "Create the necessary colors, graphics and other design elements to resonate with [your customers], Velarga says. "There's no additional cost for using multiple colors so use it to your advantage."

Look for printing options like foil stamping, embossing or spot UV, all of which Velarga says have become popular in recent years. "To enhance the unboxing experience even further, online retailers can use packaging inserts, custom dividers inside the boxes, branded tissue papers, personalized thank-yous and promotional notes."

Dollar Shave Club is a great example of a brand which uses cardboard and paper-based packaging, with fun microcopy and packaging inserts to round out the customer experience. Which brings us to our next 2019 Amazon trend…

2. Merchants will also use packaging to tell the brand story

Amazon merchants have limited opportunities to create a truly authentic, branded customer experience within the marketplace's guidelines. Product packaging is one area where sellers can — and should — connect with customers and communicate what the brand is all about.

"Brands become second place to convenience," Caspar Thykier, CEO at Zappar, says. "Yet products and packaging can provide secondary benefits to end users to help tell [brand] stories better, whether that be about their provenance, inherent properties or purpose."

If brands can extend the real-world product benefits to users and provide tangible added value through spatial storytelling and better experiences in that moment of assistance, then they can command their voice. – Caspar Thykier, Zappar

One way to do that is with augmented reality, which isn't as much of an investment as you might think. "Scanning the packaging from your smartphone can lead to contextually relevant and personalized content in that moment of assistance to unlock rewards, offers, instructional information and directions for repurchase," he says. And it's something Amazon's not doing.


3. Amazon will make a bigger mark on physical retail

Amazon's been slowly but surely making its move into physical retail. We've seen it with their Whole Foods acquisition, Amazon Go stores and pop-ups at Best Buy stores. And as Amazon's struggled with online grocery sales, we can only expect they'll look to remedy this through their brick-and-mortar footprint.

In fact, Amazon reportedly has plans to expand — a move that many believe would be motivated by the ecommerce giant's desire to get more consumers within its two-hour grocery delivery service.

If you want to compete on a brick-and-mortar level, you don't need a major budget. While you can always explore wholesale, you can create a more owned and branded experience without opening your own store. In fact, digitally native brands are finding physical retail opportunities through non-traditional methods.

Pop-up shops, events, festivals and markets are just a few of the ways you can dip your toe into in-person retail — and make face-to-face connections with your customers. Consider where your target customer is and explore the opportunities from there.

4. More personalization

According to Salesforce, personalization is a top priority for consumers. 64% want personalized offers from brands, and 52% will take their business elsewhere if a brand DOESN'T personalize their communications. Plus, it's more important to younger generations: 63% of Millennials will share data for more personalized offers, while only 58% of Gen X will (still a staggering number in its own right!)

Amazon has long been known for its personalized recommendations based on shoppers' purchases, searches and behavior on the platform. And they also anticipate shoppers' needs, recommending product bundles related to their preferences.

And now Amazon is taking personalization further. One way is with Amazon Day, a recently launched invite-only program. Invitees get to choose which day of the week they want packages delivered.

If you're looking for ways to implement personalization on your own ecommerce site and compete with Amazon, here are some apps to try:

Shopify personalization apps

BigCommerce personalization apps

5. Differentiation will be key

Amazon has had a stronghold on online retail for a while — and 2019 could be the year where brands fight back more aggressively with their own sites and branded experiences. "Many retailers are tired of the 'pay to play' model of Amazon, since competitors spend $100k on paid listings to get their 'best seller' status and ride that all the way to the top of searches, regardless of which product is better," says Tim Brown of Hook Agency.

"Retailers will be looking for ways to steal back some value, which could mean making it easier to purchase on their site instead and offering exclusive deals," Brown says. Along with that, customer loyalty programs, free gifts and easy return policies could help independent brands stand out.

Georgi Todorov, SEO and digital marketing expert at Digital Novas, says brands need to invest in making loyalty programs robust and valuable for customers. "Customers can save some money and get free gifts and create an emotional connection with the brand," he says. "Happy customers in good membership programs are more inclined to recommend it to others."

Additionally, customer loyalty programs give brands the opportunity to learn more about their customers and optimize for more future sales.

More ecommerce trends for 2019

Interested in ecommerce experts' predictions for ecommerce as a whole in 2019? Read their insights and best tips to prepare your business.

Alexandra Sheehan

In her past agency life, Alex has led digital marketing initiatives for Fortune 500 companies. Now, she’s passionate about helping retailers and retail industry leaders harness the power of the written word and fuse it with strategic content, email and social media marketing campaigns.

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