In the previous blog posts, we already discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the trends of the eCommerce world. Since the online world is constantly changing, we thought we could take another look at the future of eCommerce once more!
Let’s just dive into the topic and discover the new trends in eCommerce and what we can expect in a (hopefully) post-pandemic world!
1. Omnichannel Approach
Consumers have never had this much choice when it comes to shopping, thanks to the Internet. However, this is somewhat of an Achilles’ heel for online retailers: If the needs and standards of consumers are not met, the consumers will simply leave and find a brand that can offer the expected standard. Getting loyalty is more important than ever, while it is also more difficult than ever to keep.
With more customers going online and loyalty becoming harder than ever to attain and keep, it is more crucial to have a constant and cohesive presence throughout different channels and pages. The right way to tackle this issue goes through understanding what is needed by your customers.
Connecting with your customers through different channels is the key to this problem. It will help you understand the differences in generational preferences. By offering a variety of channels to connect, you will be giving them the chance to use and interact with their chosen medium.
2. Mobile Commerce
After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, mobile shopping rose high in popularity. According to PwC, 45% of consumers have increased their usage of mobile phones while shopping online during this period. Gen Z and Millennials are the ones using mCommerce more than any other generation. The mobile version of your platform must be easy to use as user experience is key to success. Therefore, you should really pay attention to UX and UI!
3. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has been viral for some years now. It seems that this will not change in the future as well. In 2021, the growth in influencer marketing is expected to be $13.8 billion.
Influencer marketing is mainly preferred because it increases brand awareness since it has a higher reach and creates more exposure. In addition, it allows for a more diverse approach to content creation for the brand. While it is true that many brands say they employ influencer marketing mainly to get discovered and to create brand awareness and not to generate more sales, it might change with the social media platforms allowing you to shop through them.
However, two essential things to keep in mind: Firstly, the connection between the brand and the influencer has to make sense. You cannot just select someone simply because they have a high follower count. Remember that it’s essential to create meaningful relationships with your customers based on honesty and trust! The second one, be mindful in deciding the medium of your content. Is it going to be a photograph, a short video or reels? Pay attention to what the social media platforms are doing with their algorithms! Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri recently announced that ads will be added to the Reels. Be on the lookout for that!
4. Social Commerce/ Social Shopping
Social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Twitter etc., are trendy among younger generations. These generations are what we call “digital natives”. Meaning that they’ve been born into this digital world. For them, it’s only natural for the online world to provide everything that their hearts desire and more. So naturally, social media platforms have been evolving according to this mindset. The social commerce approach is initially about moving the purchase point closer to the consumers.
For example, Instagram now allows the person/brand to add a product tag to their posts or product stickers to their stories. Through those tags and stickers, users are able to see:
- photos and/or videos of the product,
- see the price,
- read its description, and
- a “view on website” button that takes them to the website for the purchase.
5. Video Shopping
It’s a known fact that videos are more engaging compared to photographs or texts. In addition, thanks to their easy to consume nature, videos offer more concise information. However, integrating videos to the brand’s website or social media is not the only way to take advantage of this. A more dynamic approach is possible through live-stream shopping. Because it is lively, video shopping lowers the possibility of image manipulation and increases customer engagement. Live-stream shopping originates from China, whose market was worth $66 billion in 2019 and is expected to expand to broader geography!
6. Offering Different Payment Methods
Obviously, selecting payment methods that are suitable for your business operations is essential. However, as we’ve mentioned before, you have to think of your customers.
Consumers have different preferences when it comes to finalizing their purchases. Most of the time, they are using more than one payment method, and if they cannot find the payment method they wish to use, they might abandon their cart without making the purchase.
While debit and credit cards are stapled online payment methods, e-wallets (also known as digital wallets) are being used at an increasing rate. According to Billtrust, 46% of Gen Z use e-wallets 1-5 times a month, while 13% use digital wallets 6-10 times a month. The same research also suggests that while Gen Z is interested in investing in cryptocurrencies, 66% has stated that they do not prefer it as an online payment method. This might be interpreted as a sign of how much Gen Z values security.
7. Augmented Reality / AR
The most significant disadvantage of online retail is that customers cannot try the items on. So, they cannot feel the products before making a purchase. Luckily, this problem might be solved with the help of Augmented Reality technology! What the AR technology does is that it allows potential customers to virtually try the items without moving from their spot. So, they can see precisely how a particular pair of sunglasses will look on them or how a sofa will look in their living room.
IKEA has been employing AR technology with their app Place since 2017, which allows the user to virtually place IKEA products in their spaces. Lately, they’ve been developing another app called IKEA Studio with the Copenhagen-based future living lab, SPACE10. This app aims to use AR to help people design whole rooms with correct measurements and everything. The downside of both of those apps is that you cannot purchase through them at the moment. You still need to use the IKEA app for making a purchase, which is not exactly ideal. Hopefully, in the future, they will integrate those apps together to offer a more seamless experience!
8. Virtual Reality / VR
Also known as computer-simulated reality, VR offers an even more immersive shopping experience. At the moment, it’s not widely accessible, but it’s thought that this will change in the future. As virtual reality sets become more accessible, they will be integrated into eCommerce. For example, VR can enhance the online shopping experience by creating a virtual store that offers an in-store, face-to-face shopping experience.
9. Voice Search
Just like you can ask Siri or Bixby to call a specific person, you can use voice commands to browse through the products of an online retailer. The growth in voice commerce is expected to reach $80 billion by 2023.
For the customers, voice search is very time efficient since it’s a lot faster than typing. As for the retailers, the most important thing is that your e-commerce store should be optimized for voice search. It is highly likely that while using the voice command, people will be using questions more frequently. We’re curious by nature, so it’s only natural to ask “what”, “why”, “when”, “how”, and etc. If you answer these questions on your blog or FAQ page, you’ll be one step ahead in the game!
10. New Shopping Categories are Emerging!
Buying habits and patterns of consumers have significantly changed in the past year. For example, groceries, hygiene products, and home essentials were seldom purchased online before the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, people turned to online retailers for essential products through social distancing rules and encouragements combined with the increased application of home offices.
As of yet, we don’t know how long the pandemic will continue and how long we will be asked to socially distance. And even when the pandemic is behind us, it’s expected that many consumers will continue to shop online for their groceries and home essentials.
In the light of clear and often signs of climate change, consumers are becoming more conscientious about the environment and how their actions affect it. Things like less plastic packaging, waiting to send multiple items in the same package, using environmentally friendly ingredients etc., are becoming more and more critical for them. In fact, research shows that Gen Z is willing to pay 50-100% more for sustainable products!
12. Independent Brands
Apart from green consumption, sustainability, and environmentalism, independent brands are another focus of concern for the consumers. Consumers were in an effort to help small businesses that were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, they have been switching to shop from small local businesses. Other reasons for shopping from independent retailers include the desire to own unique products, receiving better and more intimate customer service, and supporting entrepreneurs.
13. Offline Experiences are Still Important
Just because most of the shopping is done online nowadays, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore the brick-and-mortar operations. Offline operations are still significant. They are only somewhat changed. The focus should be on establishing a connection between physical retail and digital retail. Practices such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store) and BORIS (Buy Online, Return In Store) are expected to gain more traction. One successful application was observed by Target during the holiday season of 2021. In fact, they are planning to continue to close their stores on the busiest days of the year to avoid the crowds and offer a safer shopping experience.
More than 60% of US consumers prefer to use digital self-serve tools, such as websites, apps and online chat. At the moment, chatbots may not work perfectly, but they are bound to become famous thanks to technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. With the help of AI, chatbots can improve themselves based on their previous experiences and conversations.
On a surface level, eCommerce subscriptions offer consumers certain products and services at a regular price. On a deeper level, they are about connecting with customers and establishing solid relationships. Subscription schemes are a sign of loyal customers, and they offer higher retention rates and predictability. So make sure you take advantage of them.
Personalised experience is still the most important aspect of eCommerce!
As we’ve seen, a lot of changes are expected to occur in the eCommerce industry in 2021. Nevertheless, there’s one common theme to all of the points discussed here: Personalised experience is still the most important aspect of eCommerce!
Most of the eCommerce businesses in existence have more or less understood the importance of offering a personalised shopping experience to their customers. However, personalised notifications and emails are not enough anymore. What is needed is an even more unique and highly personalised shopping experience. BCG discovered that consumers are 110% more inclined to add more products to their cart and 40% more prone to spending more than initially planned, when a highly personalised shopping experience was offered.
Touchpoints where your customers frequently interact are important. Find out what kind of personalisation is needed. Do you need product recommendations or site search or chatbot or something else? If you need product recommendations, what kind? Complimentary or based on price?
This list might look intimidating but fear not! Segmentify is here to save the day! To experience the most intelligent (AI) technology with our personalised eCommerce store solutions or find out more about how to already know eCommerce trends, book a free demo!