There has been a significant movement away from television, radio, and paper publications towards online material over the last few years. It has been a steady trend that showed no signs of stopping. There has also been a movement away from bricks and mortar stores to online during the same period. Late in 2019, there were the first signs of what was going to be a global change as COVID-19 began to become more than just an epidemic and turned into a worldwide pandemic that required significant lifestyle changes to battle it. Lockdowns and closures of retail businesses in the high street and malls forced the remaining population who had not yet moved online to consider it. There has been a rapid growth in e-commerce since the Pandemic reached its height.
Had you asked experts early in 2020 about the effect that this switch would make, many would have talked as if it was just a blip in 2020, and by the time we reached 2021, things would be normalizing. In 2021, we see that what we believed were short term changes are now set to continue into 2021 and beyond. The longer the pandemic is an issue, the more chance that these changes will become permanent. As this article was written, there were pronouncements that aspects of the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic might be with us for the rest of the decade. There were also announcements that COVID-19 was adapting and that the vaccine may not be the resolution that everyone has hoped for.
The latest trends in e-commerce may well be significant pointers to a long-term change in the way we live. If this is so, it will be even more critical for online stores to invest heavily to ensure they are ahead of this changing scenario. For example one of our clients who does Jacksonville hardwood flooring removal has switched to Ecommerce to pull in business during the pandemic to survive, but now is thriving because of it.
Customer behavior changed during 2020, and shopping habits may never be the same again. Consumer’s expectations, norms, and values adapted to the pandemic, and digital connections became normal. The trend had been going slowly in that direction even before the pandemic took hold. The arrival of the pandemic accelerated it dramatically during the year.
Augmented Reality (aka AR) makes it possible to see a 3D representation of the products, which has the customer information embedded into the image. This process could mean the person could see themselves wearing the clothing item or see the sofa in their room at home, with the ability to try various positions.
- 35% of people said that they would increase the amount of online shopping if there were a way to “Try On” an item before buying it.
- 22% of people say they are less likely to shop in a bricks and mortar store if their usual e-commerce store offered Augmented reality.
For many years the idea of Augmented Reality has been dangled in front of retailers. It offered so much promise. Finally, in 2020, applications started to arrive. Applications that would allow retailers to catch up with consumer expectations. AR has been one case where consumer expectations have outstripped those of the retailer.
- 63% of consumers believe that AR will transform their shopping experience
- 61% of consumers said that they would prefer to shop on sites that used AR.
- 70& of consumers said they would be more loyal to brands that utilized AR on their websites.
- 53% of consumers think that retailers are failing to take full advantage of AR.
- Loop Ventures predict that 75& of American Homes will own a smart speaker by 2025,
Using these devices means that people can order products without ever needing to touch a screen or keyboard. A consumer in their kitchen realizes that they are low on bread, milk, and other items may order the products as they walk around the kitchen. As this technology becomes increasingly common and is used routinely for everyday tasks, an increasing number of e-commerce sites will be optimized for voice search.
The bricks and mortar store can remain ahead of the e-commerce store because it has helpful assistants who may know the customer and can suggest products and answer questions instantly. And recommend products based on stated requirements.
As retailers learn ways to accompany consumers through their online stores, enhanced personalization and the increase in virtual assistants who follow the user around the store will occur. These assistants powered by artificial intelligence will improve customer service and offer a much more personal experience.
An AI-powered personal assistant can
- Assist retailers in understanding their customers
- Supply the customer with a personalized experience
- Permit the store to lull on customer data to provide real-time commentary to improve the experience
- Automate all customer support services
- Generate individualized offers based on shopper data
- Optimize pricing on an individual basis.
4-Individualized Shopping experiences
When e-commerce stores tailor the shopping experience to an individual, the consumers tend to like the whole experience, affecting revenue.
- One study found a 25% increase in sales after they implemented personalized experiences.
- Another recent study has noted a 45& decrease in bounce rates.
When more brands can capture and harness increasing amounts of data, personalization can become far more relevant and useful in the interaction with site visitors. Experts believe that personalization is to grow substantially in 2021.
My local supermarket employs a greeter who stands by the main entrance and provides a cheery face that welcomes me to the store. He also dispenses useful information that is time-sensitive, like they currently have a particular product being sold-off in aisle x. I also know I can ask him a direct question about where I can find any given product, and he will have the answer and direct me there.
Chatbots allow a store to interact with every customer yet gives the impression that the chatbot is talking exclusively to one individual. In contrast, my greeter in the local supermarket tries valiantly to deal with several customers at once, each of which will interrupt ongoing conversations.
On websites with a “Live chat” option where you can speak to a human, it is often the case that you with what seems like an age to get an answer to a simple question,
- One study found that 60% of people preferred dealing with the bot.
- Experts predict that 80% of businesses will be using chatbots this year.
A human trying to deal with several problems will result in a delay. Replacing that human with a chatbot who can answer multiple questions simultaneously, there is no delay. Many people prefer to have a quick response from a bot rather than wait for a human. Having the option to call on a human if the bot fails is perhaps the best solution, which leaves the human to spend time on more complex inquiries.
Most websites are now optimized for mobile devices as well as desktops. There are conflicting statistics about mobile shopping that need to be considered.
- Mobile devices account for more than 64% of all traffic to retail e-commerce stores.
- Mobile devices only account for 50% of all sales.
- Desktop devices account fr as little as 36% of all traffic to retail e-commerce websites.
- Desktop devices account for 50% of all sales.
We can see from this that if people access a retail e-commerce store on a desktop, they buy more. These sales results suggest that despite the increasing optimization for mobile devices, some work still needs to work on this during 2021.
7-Increased Payment Options
Whatever other features your e-commerce website has, there is one essential feature present in all e-commerce websites. This feature is a method of payment, a payment solution. Here are the top ten payments systems:
Available in 202 countries and 56 currencies
Offers an excellent customized payment platform
3- Amazon Pay
Customers can pay by logging into their Amazon accounts
4- X Payments
X-Payments has Seamless transactions that take place on the e-commerce site. High safety standards
Braintree is owned by PayPal and concentrates on mobile users
Due Offers lower rates than credit cards.
7- Go Cardless
Go Cardless offers an excellent service for those with recurring payments.
Primarily for Australian websites and those who are doing business in Australia.
Available in 200 countries and 250 local payment methods.
Security-conscious has 300 fraud detectors.
These are the primary payment suppliers, but depending on where your customers live, you may consider using more localized services that operate in just one or two countries. Often within a particular market, more people have access to these local providers than the major international ones. For example, in the Philippines, the top payment providers would be Smart Money, GCash, Dragon Pay, JuanPay, PesoPay, PayEasy, MolPay, WeePay, 7Connect, Coins.PH, Other countries will also have more localized solutions.
The fragmentation of payment solutions can present particular problems for foreigners living in another country, where they may not find it easy to signup for local payment solutions.
For the last few years, video has become increasingly important to e-commerce. There has been increasing use of video on e-commerce websites. Video has been producing enhanced conversion rates.
In a 2019 2019 survey, the results were that 62% of consumers watch video reviews before making a purchase. This significant percentage demonstrates just how important video has become. Most industry experts that this trend will continue into 2021.
Shane Barker, a specialist in this subject, suggests that videos’ importance cannot be understated. A video will explain your products far better than text and images ever can. You should endeavor to put videos with products in e-commerce stores.
An increasingly important segment of the market has become aware of sustainability problems and has adopted a new green viewpoint. Catering to this growing trend is increasingly important in 2021. People have become aware of the impact their purchases have on the future of the planet.
Sustainability is becoming a growing factor in the way we choose a product or service.
- 50% of respondents wanted to see more sustainability in fashion
- 75% of people would like there to be less emphasis on the packaging.
Brands that are improving their environmental standards in 2021 will have a larger role to play in 2021. Factors that people want to see considered on e-commerce sites include:
- Biodegradeable packaging
- Increased use of fair trade organizations for sourcing products
- Reducing paper use
- Increased use of recycled materials
- Energy conservation
In the past, the primary concern has been to get site visitors, and less emphasis was placed on increasing conversion from site visitor to customer. In 2020 there was an increasing rethink about conversion methods, and new techniques were introduced, and greater site monitoring took place to track where potential customers were being lost.
More and more brands are trying to sell to the same market, and companies cannot afford to waste site visitors and not turn them into customers. This emphasis was a subject of some debate last year, and as we move into 2021, this will still be a significant trend to monitor.
The spoken word is becoming less critical in web-content. Videos seem to be continuing their meteoric rise as we move forward. E-commerce stores comprising primarily video and populated by chatbots and personalized by AI could look very different from what we see today. Do visitors need to wade through high volumes of products if virtual assistants direct them straight to the products they are interested in?
The pace of change and the magnitude of the changes may be moving us to where current e-commerce trends are not something that we can ignore. The changes coming about now are significant, and all seem to be converging towards a substantial shift in e-commerce. These are indeed exciting times in which we live.