Covid-19, awful as it is, has boosted the e-commerce industry exponentially. More than half of the world which was in lockdown at one point or another has turned to shopping on their laptops and mobiles. Customers are 30% more likely to make online purchases in 2020 than they did last year (source:PYMNTS Research).
By 2040, as many as 95% of all purchases will be online (source: NASDAQ). Metrics to judge success of e-commerce ventures are higher conversion rates and lower customer acquisition costs. What trends in the e-commerce sector and their successful implementation will influence the measurement metrics of your online business? Let’s find out.
AI-powered tools were already assisting e-commerce sellers to predict buyer’s shopping patterns. Now chatbots (who are also capable of saving the customer’s order history) are helping marketers with cross-selling, upselling, customer service, lead generation, higher engagement and enhanced shopping experience by providing proactive, reactive, consistent, immediate, intuitive conversations via SMS, live chats and social media.
A survey revealed that by the end of 2020, 80% of businesses are either using or planning to use chatbots (source: Oracle Survey). The driving factors behind the wide-scale acceptance of chatbots are quick response and resolution, pre-ordering, booking and ease of online shopping.
Drone Delivery Service
Ideal for small to medium packages, this service uses UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) to deliver packages to customer’s doorstep in faster, cheaper and environment-friendly ways. Drone delivery has been touted as the future of e-commerce, expected to increase overall revenues by a huge number.
Readers may have heard of Amazon Prime Delivery, delivering packages within 30 minutes of placing the order. Of course, the mile radius restrictions apply. Other giants dipping their toes in drone delivery services are Domino’s Pizza, UPS, Google in association with Walgreens, Zomato, FedEx and Alibaba (USA, Australia, UAE, New Zealand, Canada, France).
This is the type of e-commerce where the traditional front-end is decoupled from its back-end, i.e. there is no graphic user interface which is tightly paired with a predetermined backend. Sellers can design a brand new front-end presentation that’s customised for the end user in a unique API-driven system.
These are provided to the customers in the form of Progressive Web Applications (PWA) or Single Page Applications (SPA). This is a mobile first approach for marketers who want to stay ahead of the digital curve. A headless framework + Content Management System (CMS like Contentful) pulls up content via APIs to create a personalized shopping experience from product listing to checkout.
Headless Shopify and Shopify Plus, Nike, Uber are some best case examples. Elastic Path is a popular headless commerce system. The game-changing application for headless commerce is its ability to integrate with IoT powered devices to allow voice commerce. More on that below.
It is predicted that by 2020, 50% of all shopping searches will be voice searches (source: ComScore). With the growth in maturity levels of voice assistants (Alexa, Cortana, Siri, etc.), customers are finding that voice searches are almost 3x faster than typed searches, more interactive and engaging especially with the popularity of smart speakers in more and more households.
Voice shopping will be hugely aided by the rapid development in NLP/AI which are progressing to understand more contextual long search (Google’s BERT is a case in point). E-tailers will benefit from lesser customer service expenses, shortened purchase cycles and enriching personalised services to customers.
Personalised online shopping
Customizable products are already all the rage in various segments like beauty, apparel, accessories, health, wellness and art. But personalisation is actually a broader umbrella that includes a variety of unique customer experiences such as personalised mobile/web home pages, product recommendations, social media marketing, exclusive offers, and individualized value experiences. Big data and AI powered personalised marketing are raising privacy concerns among customers so e-tailers will approach a more subtle and subliminal approach to harness the customer’s mindspace.
From product ingredients, packaging, recycling to energy conservation, more and more woke buyers are insisting on sustainable online shopping and don’t hesitate to switch to brands that genuinely value environmental protection and work towards conserving the planet’s natural resources.
Businesses can take note of this trending statistic – 73% of customers across the world are open to altering their consumption patterns in order to reduce environmental impact (source: Nielsen). E-tailers that adopt fair trade practices, reduce manufacturing and packaging waste and engage in meaningful outreach campaigns while delivering great services and products will grow by leaps and bounds in the future.
Millennials more than their predecessors make deep visceral choices with the help of visuals that constantly vie for their attention. E-commerce of the future will have to reinvent itself by carefully curating and having stunning digital representation of products and services, whether it be through high resolution, 3D visualization, ultra modern UX UI design, explosive, creative renders or the use of AR-VR in product showcase, user-generated interactive imagery or experimental yet highly shoppable product photography.
Recommerce/ Reverse Commerce
Online (also offline) re-commerce industry is booming on the heels of value-driven shopping practices and sustainable alternatives. Gen Z, hipsters and younger millennials do not believe in the status quo ante, are quickly adopting the rising trends of second hand goods and do not mind giving up on fast fashion, legacy brands and unsustainable products. This is not limited to buying pre-owned electronic devices or vehicles.
This trend entails people under 40 lapping up secondhand clothes, jewelry, vintage collectibles, books and accessories, among others in order to decrease negative environmental impact and get value for money.
It used to be that majority of customers used to end up shopping at brick and mortar stores because they couldn’t properly visualise the look and feel of the product. AR has changed that.
According to ThinkMobiles, 77% of customers prefer product reviews with the aid of AR technology and some are even willing to pay a higher price if AR preview is made available. The use of AR along with 3D videos, micro animation, product tips and interactive features have proven to build brand loyalty, return visits, and a sense of amazement in the psyche of customers. Gartner predicts that in 2020, 100 million customers will shop in AR (online and offline).
Social media shopping
Facebook boasts that 70% of customers use Instagram for product discovery and Pinterest has already proven to be a highly viable shopping option for online buyers worldwide.
Going forward, brands will open up to user generated content for persuasive marketing, provide safe checkout options (chatbot checkouts and autofill options) on social pages, focus on one-click buy strategies, and along with B2C marketers, B2B e-tailers will also expand their horizons to social commerce. Social commerce will work wonders for sellers who are marketing low-ticket items with engagement as opposed to sales as their focus.
So what’s the word? If you build it, they’ll come… not really. If you build it well and constantly up your game, they will come… Good user interface and experience, sound marketing strategies with defined target audience, ease of checkout options, faster loading times and superior customer service are key aspects that will make or break e-commerce companies. E-commerce companies can outsource web development from the best web development agency, to ensure they hold a competitive advantage in the e-commerce marketplace.