by | Dec 18, 2018

Andrew Humber

Andrew hails from the UK, but headed for the warmer Bay Area climate over a decade ago. When he’s not being Webscale’s VP of Marketing, he’s a husband, father, dog walker, wine taster, and hopeless home improver.

A lot has been going on in the e-commerce industry over the last six months.

We’re in the middle of an exciting Holiday Season, the largest ever in terms of e-commerce revenues. Cyber Monday 2018 saw consumers spend $7.9 billion in e-commerce sales, making it the largest online shopping day in US history. While e-commerce revenues on Black Friday experienced a growth of 23.6% year on year, the weekend after Thanksgiving posted growth numbers of more than 25% compared to last year, and Cyber Monday recorded a 19.3% jump in online sales compared to 2017.

Of course, Amazon still accounts for more than 80% of online transactions in several categories, unless it was Prime Day (ouch!), but reports show that its growth is slowing down! Larger players like Walmart are responding aggressively to Amazon’s market dominance, yet we’re also seeing promising growth from the mid-market. In this segment, memorable, and distinct user experiences are eclipsing the “big box” mentality of the larger players, and serving niche audiences, in markets like fashion for example, very well.

Mobile continues its meteoric rise with analysts reporting that more than a third of Black Friday sales were made on smartphones. That’s an increase of 29% over last year, which equates to around $2.1 billion in sales – people’s thumbs have never had such a workout.

And if all of that wasn’t enough of a sign, reports that warehouse space is running out, and startups in the fields of e-commerce fulfilment and B2B e-commerce securing millions in funding, all point to an industry that shows no signs of slowing down.

The biggest trend we saw, with regards to hosting and infrastructure at least, continues to be cloud migration. E-commerce businesses are seeking highly scalable, yet cost-effective hosting environments for their storefronts, to claim their share of the seemingly endless increase in online spending year over year. With static, managed hosting environments unable to solve these problems for modern e-commerce, the need is urgent, yet an acute cloud skills gap in the industry is making this a daunting task for many.

Even Magento Commerce Cloud, which claims to be an easy path for merchants to get to the cloud, falls woefully short. Slow response times to support issues, a cap on how many scaling events a merchant can have in any given year, and a requirement to provide advance notice if scaling is needed? That’s just not how modern e-commerce works. Time will tell how Adobe’s acquisition of Magento Commerce will improve the situation for Magento customers. The news of a malware attack this year, that affected more than 5,000 of its Magento Open Source users, didn’t help matters either.

And so unto 2019, which is shaping up to be a very interesting one indeed. New technologies will play heavily in how the market evolves in the coming months. Artificial intelligence and Augmented Reality promise to make our shopping experiences smarter and more immersive. New “snap and shop” features already rolling out allow users to merely take a photo of an item to find it online and subsequently buy it a few seconds later.

The improvements merchants make to their storefronts will make it easier than ever to locate, browse, compare and purchase just about anything. The need for that user experience to be supported by a scalable, cloud-based infrastructure, that is ready to serve many varied types of content fast, and under any traffic conditions, will be more important than ever.

Hold onto your hats, 2019 is going to be a big one!

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