Staying competitive has always been a motivating factor for every company hoping to remain viable for a long time. As a retailer, large business, or startup, you need to monitor changing consumer habits and online shopping trends.
And these changes don’t get more significant than the COVID-19 pandemic. The lockdown’s unprecedented nature has caused a seismic shift in all aspects of life, including business.
Companies had to adopt new strategies to address problems and maintain the seamless flow of business operations. For example, businesses now pay more attention to mobile communication with consumers and AI-powered initiatives.
In this article, we have gathered the most relevant e-commerce industry trends in retail and overall business practices. Implement these shopping trends to gain a significant edge over your direct competitors.
12 Popular online retail e-commerce trends
When it comes to businesses’ interaction with consumers, a lot will change in 2021 and beyond. We will witness extensive AI and machine learning implementation. Besides, hot-button issues like climate change will affect how consumers interact with retailers. So, let’s discover the ten must-watch e-commerce trends in 2021.
AI-powered shopping recommendations
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have changed the entire landscape of business operations. Nowadays, businesses rely on AI-driven initiatives to automate their workflows.
And this AI-infusion also extends to retail. Companies now use machine learning technology to obtain data related to consumer behavior.
As it stands, McKinsey Analytics estimates that 50% of companies have implemented AI or machine learning technology in marketing, service operations, or risk management.
The AI solution gathers information about the ‘hottest’ products, trending topics, and customer feedback. Eventually, this data helps companies streamline their marketing strategies to increase the return on investment (ROI).
Paypal now uses voice commands to initiate transactions. Users can send money from their iOS devices with the help of Siri. Also, Android users can connect to Alexa or Amazon to activate the voice-powered PayPal Skill.
Due to movement restrictions, customers now enjoy limited access to physical stores. It is now challenging to try out a product before buying it. But with Augmented Reality (AR), consumers can visualize a product in a virtual 3D environment before purchasing.
According to Statista, the AR market is currently valued at USD 8.9 billion and is expected to reach USD 18 billion by 2023. With these figures in mind, tech companies now invest in innovative AR tools to fine-tune shopping.
Amazon’s mobile app now allows customers to visualize cosmetics from L’Oreal before they can make a purchase. Similarly, VADO’s Interactive Visual AR solution enables you to envisage furniture to find what fits your space.
Popularization of voice search
Voice search has been around in Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri. However, these devices were mainly digital assistants that helped with simple tasks around the house.
But nowadays, voice assistants perform services beyond essential homebound assistance. Consumers can now use devices to search for specific products and locate stores near them.
According to Think with Google, over 72% of consumers incorporate voice search in their daily routine. Even Google Voice Search is now gaining popularity among consumers. Consequently, companies now focus their SEO efforts on implementing voice searches.
The Chinese-owed iFlytek now implements a voice command search module that offers 98% accuracy. In the same vein, Google’s Voice Search is making similar strides to attain the same level of efficiency.
Chatbots in shopping and advertising
As of the end of 2020, Oracle estimated that 80% of businesses used chatbots in sales and marketing. The implementation of the chatbots focused on customer interactions and advertisement primarily.
Today, chatbots are essential to any retail operation, serving as virtual shop consultants. Customers can improve searches using chatbots. Similarly, they can also reach out to the customer support staff for immediate help.
Moreover, chatbots gather valuable information that tailors ads to their latest searches and preferences. This feature is an excellent marketing tool because it limits the scope of advertising strategies.
For instance, you can integrate Amazon’s AWS Chatbot with your Slack and Chime channels. This fine-tunes collaboration between team members for faster responses and workflow optimization.
If your company sells products only on one platform — company website or social network — then it is time to diversify your efforts. Multichannel selling is an up-and-coming e-commerce trend that extends your products’ reach to a larger audience.
E-commerce companies now expand their reach to markets on eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram. These business-friendly platforms provide tools to customize your ad campaigns and outreach programs to reach the target local and global audience.
Therefore, diversify your selling channels to boost revenue while increasing brand exposure. You can also monitor your strategy’s progress using advanced analytic tools present on these platforms.
Personalized customer experience
In the past, brands focused on one-size-fits-all marketing strategies to reach a massive audience. But nowadays, these generic marketing plans bear limited results.
The modern consumer craves a personal attachment to the brand. They want to feel part of the product creation stage.
But how can your business take advantage of this buying trend?
Let’s take a look at the clothing brand Nike. The company now allows users to play around with augmented reality tools on their website. Customers can customize their apparel before placing an order. And yes, most consumers will pay the extra cash for that personalized experience.
Focus on mobile conversions
According to the latest e-commerce trends, mobile shopping is the future of online purchases. Google estimates that 60% of online consumers contact businesses via their mobile devices. As a result, mobile conversions have also increased across the board.
To take advantage of this shopping trend, optimize your content for mobile platforms. Focus on the mobile experience when designing your website since most users will visit the site from their smartphones.
Most importantly, follow the 7-second rule: ensure that the entire page loads within seven seconds. Any loading time beyond this mark increases the site’s bounce rate and reduces conversion.
Uber’s total rebrand in 2018 simplified the company’s logo, typography, and mobile experience. As the mobile app became easier to use, the company’s popularity soared. Uber also seized the opportunity to add new communication features and improve ride-sharing.
A shift to video content
In the past, online marketing campaigns tried to stay away from video content because users didn’t spend time watching them. YouTube users installed ad blockers to get rid of annoying video ads.
However, videos are making a glorious comeback once again in e-commerce today. A short, engaging, and informative video content can give your products more exposure than long-form posts.
Moreover, we can attribute this appreciation of video content to a reduction in consumers’ average attention spans.
Nowadays, you have around 13 seconds to capture a client’s attention. And to be honest, only a video (and multimedia content like animations) can keep them glued to your page. If not, they will abandon the page for your competitors.
Emphasis on sustainability
Eco-friendliness is one of the hottest e-commerce buying trends at the moment. Consumers worried about the environment’s fate only want to buy products from companies that share the same sentiments.
These ‘green’ consumers are primarily Millennials, who make up the bulk of the active customer base for online products. And they actively search for companies that share the same green mentality.
So, adopt eco-friendly practices in your business to boost sales. Focus on using biodegradable solutions as part of your product packaging. And when possible, highlight your company’s dedication to recycling.
However, try to avoid ‘greenwashing’ practices because they are unethical. Besides, your business could get flagged for false advertising. A common example of greenwashing backfiring on a company is the BMW ‘zero emission’ saga with the ASA.
Advanced payment options
Payment processing is one of the final stages in every consumer’s journey with your product. And you want to make this checkout process as smooth as possible. Most users can abandon their interaction with your product due to the following reasons:
- Exorbitant additional costs (shipping, etc.)
- Crash errors
- Account creation required
- Complicated billing process
- Absence of multiple payment options
The last issue is standard with old payment portals that accept only credit card options. But you can extend your payment options to include other payment services and cryptocurrency.
Microsoft now allows users to renew their subscriptions with cryptocurrencies. Most recently, Tesla announced that users can now buy their vehicles using Bitcoin. Ultimately, this trend will continue as other companies start to favor advanced payment options.
Emphasis on analytics
Data collection and processing are driving innovation in e-commerce today. Currently, companies focus their operations on data-driven initiatives. They also collect information about products, users, and employees.
Companies normally focused on standard data like conversion rate, retention rate, and impressions. But with the coming of advanced metrics and data management systems, businesses can now scrutinize every aspect of their operations.
Here are the new metrics to focus on in 2021:
- Customer lifetime value
- Cart abandonment rate
- Customer acquisition cost
- Net promoter score
- A/B testing results
Other metrics and key performance indicators exist in e-commerce, like market share percentage and support resolution time. So, your company can monitor multiple metrics to give them relevant information about products and consumers.
Use data management systems like Microsoft’s Power BI, IBM’s Cognos, and SAP’s business intelligence tools to monitor and gather advanced insights.
The rise of PWAs
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are applications delivered through the web and work across multiple platforms regardless of the built-in operating system. Companies like Shopify, Jumia, and Alibaba have joined the PWA wave in the past few years.
Instead of spending money to develop native apps for multiple devices, companies can now build one PWA to solve the same problem. Besides, PWAs are available on the web without any need for installation.
And most importantly, PWAs offer better performance and can work offline. And since most people rely on mobile browsing, PWAs are perfect replacements for native apps.
4 Companies leading the charge in B2B e-commerce trends
When it comes to e-commerce, several companies set the pace worldwide. Most of them are marketplace platforms while some are progressive e-commerce brands. Let’s go through the companies driving modern e-commerce trends today.
- 1. Amazon
Amazon is the premier e-commerce platform in the world, ahead of industry giants like Google and Facebook. The company owns several assets, including the revolutionary Amazon Web Services (AWS) that handles cloud computing. Amazon also uses advanced AI and machine learning technology on all its platforms.
- 2. Alibaba
This Chinese-owned online marketplace is a direct competitor to Amazon. Since announcing its cloud computing service Alibaba Cloud in 2009, the company has become an industry leader in e-commerce. Consumers can now use the AliGenie personal assistant for homemade tasks and shopping.
- 3. Nike
Nike is a top-tier sports brand that focuses on designing and marketing sporting gear. The company is renowned for its efforts to promote sustainability. One key example is the ‘Reuse-A-Shoe’ Program that encourages the recycling of old shoes. Today, Nike is one of the few fashion brands to implement an interactive AR-powered design platform for customers.
- 4. Tesla
Tesla is the benchmark for every modern company that wants to embrace (or dictate) upcoming trends. This progressive company’s eco-friendly business model has elevated it (and co-founder Elon Musk) to cult status. Tesla implements advanced solutions like self-driving cars and renewable energy models. And the company’s cosign of Bitcoin is a complete game-changer.
Keeping up with these modern trends is an excellent practice, but you need to implement them in your business right away. Any company, regardless of size, should develop a modernization strategy to adjust to the changing marketplace. So, you can follow the blueprint laid out by the companies above to grow your business.
What does the future of e-commerce hold?
As the world adapts to life with pandemic regulations, predicting the future of e-commerce with pinpoint accuracy would be a challenge. But with expert forecasts and market insights, we can predetermine the changes post-pandemic.
According to Ecommerce Europe, 89.5% of businesses had to shut down partially or entirely during the pandemic. Only 36% of brick-and-mortar shops were allowed to stay open. On the other hand, all online shops stayed operational during the lockdown, witnessing some 67% increase in sales. As a result, companies now consider online shopping trends or hybrid sales.
Furthermore, Deloitte proposes that businesses would need to upgrade their technology platforms to handle the increased online customer flow. Also, companies will refunnel their marketing expenditure into digital marketing and social media outreach.
Keeping up with e-commerce trends is essential to gain an edge over your competitors. Companies need to consider COVID-19 regulations and modern automation solutions to improve business growth.
Optimize processes and use artificial intelligence to improve productivity. Focus on consumer experience in every business decision. And factor in social media into your marketing campaign. Most importantly, focus on analytics and performance metrics to increase revenue growth.
At Redwerk, we work with e-commerce brands on SaaS solutions for their business. We extend our development and consultation services to startups, midsize businesses, and large enterprises.
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