When it comes to the future of e-commerce and online retail in general, perhaps the only constant is change.
Though the world remains embroiled amid a pandemic, retali sales are plummeted and the “new” in “new normal” becomes less a caveat and more a constant, there nevertheless remains exciting change afoot in the world of online stores — change driven by advancements in eCommerce technology.
In 2019, global e-commerce sales exceeded $3.5 trillion, an all-time high, and an 18% increase year on year. By the end of 2020, that figure was predicted to rise to $4.2 trillion. By 2023, it will be $6.5 trillion.
Isolation, remote working, and social distancing have all contributed to a shift in shopping experience and how consumers are spending their time, and with it, their money - having products delivered to doorstep is no longer a convenience, but a necessity.
Globally, the winners of this unexpected shift were earmarked early:
Still, such rapid (and unforeseen) consumer adoption of e-commerce highlighted some existing vulnerabilities in the industry, with bottlenecks forming as demand surged:
Even though the full economic effects of coronavirus are yet to reveal themselves, e-commerce has always developed with innovation at its core.
This ongoing innovation in eCommerce technology is capable of boosting growth, refining targeting, and facilitating more holistic relationships with customers (among a whole host of other advantages).
If ever there was a time to jump on board the latest eCommerce technology trends (and ramp up your business’ growth), it might be now. Especially if you're still brick and mortar.
For today's online consumer, shopping is a lengthy, multi-channel, multi-device activity.
Research, consideration, and eventually purchase - all are key touchpoints in the purchasing cycle.
The fact that 90% of customers expect smooth interactions across multiple channels and devices highlights the importance of this omnichannel readiness.
By harnessing the latest in eCommerce technology, eCommerce businesses can provide their customers with what they want, when they want, but perhaps most importantly, where they want it.
And, there’s no denying that the growth of mobile shopping shows no signs of slowing.
According to Statista, by the end of 2020, 73% of e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device. As buyers become increasingly comfortable with banking, browsing and purchasing on mobile devices, businesses that fail to cater to this will be left behind.
Despite a clear consumer preference for mobile solutions, mobile conversion rates remain less than half that of desktop. While research also indicates that 53% of consumers will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.
The development of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and similar technologies are allowing eCommerce brands to provide a truly optimal mobile experience. PWAs offer a native-like mobile experience, along with features such as push notifications and instant loading. All of which contribute to an improved customer journey.
PWAs also unlock opportunities for a headless commerce strategy - allowing teams to work on the front-end and back-end of their systems simultaneously.
A PWA can further be utilized with an accelerated mobile page (AMP); a mobile-first, stripped-down HTML copy of a web page that loads instantly. AMPs constitute the bedrock of Google’s mobile-first index, which ranks sites based on mobile optimization in its search results.
By combining both AMP and PWA (and a robust content marketing strategy), eCommerce brands can:
For example, Thrillist, an online lifestyle media brand, updated its site to incorporate AMP compatibility and achieved a 70 percent lift in traffic, with 50 percent of that growth directly attributable to AMP.
Meanwhile, Trivago, the travel app, increased engagement by 150% through its utilization of PWA. The PWA loads faster than the existing native app, has push notifications and an offline mode. With the Trivago PWA, customers now click on hotel offers twice as much as with the native app (97% increase).
Incorporating automation is critical to the success of an eCommerce solution. From eCommerce marketing automation to warehousing and supply chain management, automation facilitates faster scaling and optimizes efficiencies.
Here are three ways e-commerce automation is powering productivity (and getting rid of manual, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks):
Automation is particularly beneficial to brands seeking to expand internationally. Managing multiple stores, larger inventory, and more complex fulfillment networks can become a logistical nightmare. By automating tasks (wherever possible) businesses can make the most of their employees’ skills.
Thankfully, eCommerce technology and automation can help protect brands.
Where once an employee would be required to manually cross-check orders with shopper purchase history to determine if individual orders were fraudulent, by automatizing this process brands can rely on fraud protection embedded natively into their eCommerce platform. This prevents high-risk orders from being fulfilled and the ensuing costly chargebacks.
In 2016, ASOS added automation and better sortation technology to its warehouses. By streamlining logistics and enhancing its warehouse technology, ASOS became among the first retailers to offer same and next day shipping and ultimately delivered a better customer experience. The result was an increase in customer satisfaction and a sizable drop in warehousing costs for the company.
As businesses continue to fall over themselves in a rush to offer an eCommerce solution and brands shift to a digital-first strategy, effective customer acquisition can become an increasingly confusing process.
Thankfully, developments in eCommerce technology are once again on hand to resolve this.
The future of eCommerce marketing is no longer a race for value in terms of CPC and CPI. The eCommerce marketing cycle has been democratized and consumers are now more informed than ever - demanding ever more from the businesses they shop with in return.
Having a holistic, technology-driven marketing strategy can help an eCommerce brand grow.
By marketing and selling directly to consumers, eCommerce businesses are in a unique position to start an open dialogue with their customers. Where traditional marketing channels flow in only one direction, conversational marketing opens new opportunities for eCommerce success.
After all, getting information directly from customers helps inform smarter business decisions.
Providing 24/7, unmanned support chatbots allow retailers to communicate en masse with their customers, all the while providing personalized content and relevant recommendations.
To date, chatbots have largely been used in a customer service capacity. It’s inevitable though that the utility of chatbots will cross into marketing in the coming years. In the retail space, in particular, self-checkout is set to become the norm.
Shopping-assistant chatbots will be deployed to provide personalized service and help shoppers find exactly what it was they were looking for - all the while collecting data in the process.
Similarly, marketing directly to consumers online enables further first and third-party data aggregation.
Such data can then be harnessed to better anticipate and deliver new products and deliver more effective retargeting. Leading to more effective engagement of customers across devices and at different stages of the conversion funnel - helping businesses craft a more comprehensive picture of the customer journey.
According to a recent study, 75% of US households will own a smart speaker by 2025. As consumers become more comfortable using smart speakers for a myriad of different actions, including buying products online, voice shopping is predicted to grow to $40 billion by 2022.
To see success in the emerging voice market, brand recognition will become increasingly important. Therefore making use of eCommerce technology to deliver a superior customer experience will be essential to get ahead of, and capitalize on, this growing trend.
eBay has been pioneering the utilization of chatbots and voice search, having acknowledged its growing importance early.
Its chatbot runs on the Google Assistant platform, relying on a voice-based interface such as Google Home or Google Now. The chatbot allows users to browse product categories by simply stating what they are seeking before it finds the best deals and sends relevant seller information directly to a user’s smartphone - compounding the importance of an omnichannel approach.
Instead of focusing on the familiar approach to text-based chat, eBay has instead set out to recreate the experience of shopping in person, familiarizing its customers with conversational e-commerce.
With such an abundance of rapidly developing technology available, any business seeking to stay ahead of these developments may have a hard time staying informed, never mind implementing these technologies.
We have the experience and knowledge to help you harness the eCommerce trends and increase your online presence.
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