Ecommerce Industry Trends in 2018: The Best- and Worst-Performing Product Niches

As we look to 2019, a number of merchants are trying to predict which ecommerce trends and products are going to be hot sellers in the new year. But in order to find success in 2019, it’s just as important to look at what ecommerce industries flourished—and struggled—in 2018. Here’s a comprehensive guide to which product niches underwent notable changes, and how they might affect your business in 2019.

The apparel market is growing, with lots of opportunity for new merchants

Apparel was a moneymaker for ecommerce merchants this year, and the industry is expected to be increasingly profitable in 2019. In particular, consumer trends have shown a rise in demand for “slow fashion:” high-quality apparel made with more ethical standards than average brands you’ll find at the mall.

In addition to slow fashion, there were a number of specific styles that blew up this year. Here are just some of the bigger looks that are likely to continue trending into 2019:

  • Faux fur and leather
  • Sneakers
  • Blazers
  • Bike shorts

Unsurprisingly, Instagram also played a huge role in fashion-related ecommerce, and anyone targeting trending niches in the industry should stay on top of their social media game in 2019.

While styles change (and change fast), those in the fashion industry should still keep these 2018 ecommerce trends in mind as we approach 2019.

The firearms market reacts to political climates

Firearms have long been a hot-button issue, but the buying trends for guns and ammunition were particularly affected by the political climate in 2018. Some online store providers even banned guns on their platforms altogether, leading to increased debate over the place of firearms in the ecommerce industry.

Looking at the numbers, firearms sales have increased in 2018, despite controversy, and the numbers will likely increase in 2019. Here is some additional data worth noting:

  • Gun ownership by household increased 1% in 2018
  • Over the past five years, the US guns and ammunition manufacturing industry grew by 2.8%, and some sources expect it to reach a revenue of $17 billion in 2018

If you’re an ecommerce merchant selling guns or ammunition, sales trends suggest that the numbers will continue to rise in 2019.

Vaporizer markets are stalling, waiting for new regulations

One niche industry that hit some bumps in 2018 was the vaporizer market. While the vaporizer trend seems to have longevity, it’s going to face a number of additional regulations in 2019 due to an increase in underage vaping.

In fact, vaping increased nearly 80% among high schoolers and 50% among middle schoolers since 2017. That’s not a good look for the industry, and the FDA is pushing for further regulations to crack down on sales.

While ecommerce merchants still stand to make a profit from vaporizer sales, there are a number of possible regulations and anti-vaping efforts you can expect to see in 2019:

  • Additional restrictions on the manufacturing and sale of flavored vape pods
  • Further studies highlighting the negative health effects of vaping

While the numbers may be technically looking up for this trending niche, it’s going to be increasingly more difficult to sell vapes and vape supplies in 2019.

One exception to these difficulties may be found in the form of cannabis vape pens, since marijuana is already highly regulated in states where it is legal. While ecommerce merchants can’t sell cannabis online, there’s still an opportunity to be found in selling marijuana-related accessories.

Final Thoughts

Buying trends in the ecommerce industry are ever-fluctuating, and things are only going to shake up even more in 2019. By keeping an eye on trending niches and online shopping statistics from 2018, we can get an idea of where various industries are headed and plan how to have an even more profitable year to come.