The eCommerce world continues to boom, and there are no signs of slowing down.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, the eCommerce industry was affected due to shipping and logistical concerns. However, quarantine shopping only resulted in record-breaking sales. Black Friday 2020 pulled in $9 billion, while Cyber Monday generated $10.84 billion in sales.
But the fast pace of the digital world can be overwhelming. There are always new strategies, new tools, and new platforms to explore. Businesses that can
hop on eCommerce trends at the right time can stay ahead of the competition.
One thing’s for sure. It’s more important than ever to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry at all times.
But what eCommerce trends are most likely to be on the rise this year and beyond? We’ve done the work for you and compiled them into one solid list.
Here are some of the leading eCommerce trends you should keep an eye out for:
1. Use of big data for next-level personalization
Fact sharing time: online shops that can create personalized relationships with customers get better results. Consumers crave tailored experiences and here’s proof:
- 66% of consumers expect the companies they shop from to know what they need and prefer.
- 36% of consumers share that retailers need to double down on offering tailored shopping experiences.
So how do you personalize the customer experience?
One of the simplest things to do is to leverage produce recommendations. Using big data combined with advanced tracking tools, you can know precisely what an individual cares about. This means you can offer a tailored experience whether an online user is on your website or opening your emails. Here’s an example. Pura Vida sells bracelets. They attribute more than 1.6 million additional clicks to their efforts in creating two recommendation categories on their product pages.
They displayed products that were recently viewed and products that might be relevant based on user activity.
Something to remember: The more you learn about your prospective buyers, the better you can personalize the experience.
Not only will it be easier, but it will also be more rewarding.
The key takeaway is this: personalize the customer experience in a way that online users will feel that you are communicating directly to them and only to them.
2. Availability of versatile payment options
One of the reasons why customers abandon their carts is because there weren’t enough payment options.
As an eCommerce business, you need to cater to your customers. Adding more payment methods can help with this.
PayPal and Stripe are two of the most common payment gateways and they are trusted by most online shoppers. But you may also want to consider adding Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, and other emerging methods.
You may also want to add a few cryptocurrency payment gateways if your customers are the type to dip their toes in crypto.
3. Subscription models for customer retention
This eCommerce trend sees more and more businesses changing their offers from regular products to monthly subscriptions.
This simple but ingenious idea encourages customer loyalty. When done right, your eCommerce brand will get to enjoy sustainable and recurring revenue.
The biggest advantage of this business model is the increase in customer retention. Customers may end up being subscribers for years.
Vegan Cut is a vegan cosmetics store that offers beauty boxes. It’s a win-win strategy as customers get to enjoy different items each month and the brand is assured of revenue and customer engagement.
4. Use of interactive chatbots for better customer support
One aspect of shopping in physical stores that eCommerce stores have a hard time duplicating is the interaction with sales personnel. In a brick-and-mortar store, customers can very easily tap a sales rep on the shoulder.
Today, eCommerce stores have started using chatbots to establish faster response times and deeper relations with prospects and customers. According to Kayako, 41% of consumers prefer live chat as a support channel, and 52% are more likely to be loyal to companies that have it.
Online customers are, for a lack of a better term, spoiled. They want information right there and then. Then they get frustrated if they can’t get it.
Check out this example from Snaptravel. Their chatbot shows accommodation options based on the user’s search queries.
One more good thing about chatbots: they can be used throughout the customer journey. From prospects who have questions about the products to buyers who want to track their orders, and to existing customers who may want to purchase again.
5. Rise of shoppable video content
Online users spend as much as 100 minutes daily just watching videos. This specific statistic drove eCommerce stores to invest in video marketing to showcase their products and reach audiences who like visual content.
There was just one problem. People had to leave the video, go to a separate URL, look for the product, and then go through the checkout process. In short, the customer journey wasn’t that smooth—prospects could still drop out if they found the process too tedious.
Luckily, shoppable videos became a thing! With a few clicks, video viewers can buy the product right from within the video.
6. Artificial intelligence (AI) powered strategies
With personalization being a key focus for eCommerce businesses, using AI can help improve the way your brand interacts with customers. Advanced and hyper-targeted personalization at scale is only possible with advanced technology like AI.
Here are a couple of ways to use AI for eCommerce:
- AI-powered chatbots
Chatbots with AI learning capabilities can drastically reduce the work of your live support team. Additionally, the bots will just continue learning and adapting to different situations. You’ll be able to provide timely and relevant support at any time of the day.
- Product recommendations
AI allows you to process insightful data plus existing trends about each prospect and customer. You’ll be able to offer timely and relevant suggestions based on various factors like their profiles, interests, and purchase history.
Look at how North Face helps customers choose the perfect jacket.
They ask a few pre-qualifying questions to understand user preferences plus the conditions in which the jacket will be used. AI compares weather conditions based on the user’s location, then analyzes buying history and their viewed products.
Finally, North Face can narrow down the jacket options to a few relevant ones. A user can save a lot of time. Plus, the experience feels tailored and the options are personalized.
7. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)
Did you know that 71% of consumers shared that they would be more inclined to shop with brands that use virtual reality? Well, eCommerce brands already know this—over 120,000 stores will use AR this 2022.
With VR and AR, eCommerce brands can have their virtual versions of staging rooms or fitting rooms. Here are some examples of how some eCommerce brands are already harnessing the power of AR and VR:
- Lenskart has a virtual try-on for their glasses and frames.
- Amazon’s AR View app makes it possible for customers to view products in their own homes before actually making a purchase.
- With IKEA’s Studio app, users can capture entire fully-measured 3D room plans with furniture. Then they can tweak the colors, and replace furniture, and other home decorations.
By the way, Instagram launched Spark AR. This helps users try on products that are promoted by brands on IG. Though it’s not yet fully available to everyone, brands like MAC Cosmetics and Ray-Ban have already tested it. This means that online users will be able to try on make-up, accessories, or even clothes in the future.
8. Authenticity and sustainability in values and practices
Shoppers and brands are becoming more aware of the environment. As a result, consumers are becoming more conscious about the brands they are supporting. Let’s look at the data:
- 50% of survey respondents wanted to see more sustainable fashion
- 75% of consumers want to see less packaging
E-commerce brands are already responding. Going paperless, using biodegradable packaging, and using recyclables are just some of the steps brands have taken.
Jeff Bezos has committed to reducing their carbon footprint as he aims for net-zero carbon by 2040. H&M now has bicycle couriers. FedEx aims to replace its delivery fleet with battery-powered vehicles.
Here’s a word of warning though. 65% of consumers want to buy from brands that are genuinely committed to sustainable business practices. There’s such a thing as greenwashing, and customers are aware that some businesses just put sustainability as a front because it’s “trendy” or “cool.”
9. Mobile shopping is no longer just optional
It’s inevitable. Mobile shopping, also known as m-commerce is (still) on the rise. Retail sales made via mobile devices hit $359.32 billion in 2021—a 15.2% increase from 2020. It is predicted that by 2025, m-commerce sales will account for 44.2% of US eCommerce sales.
What does this mean? Consumers are becoming more reliant on mobile devices. Thus, eCommerce brands must double down to ensure that their stores are optimized for m-commerce.
A mobile-optimized online store is now a foundational element of a positive customer experience. However, m-commerce goes beyond just responsive mobile pages. E-commerce involves any creative and technological advancement to enhance the customer experience beyond the website.
Here are some things you can do to start zeroing in on this trend:
- Allow your customers to purchase from anywhere in the world
- Add mobile payment methods. Though this is a predominant trend in Asia, other regions and countries are soon going to adapt.
- Explore visual search—it’s going to be huge. Users can just take a picture of an item they want to buy and the algorithm will sift through thousands of products to show them the one closest to what they are looking for. This is something that Neiman Marcus is already offering.
10. Spotlight on customer privacy
Consumers are becoming more concerned about the way their data is being used. While data serves as the driving force for personalization, it is important to respect privacy as well.
In Europe and California, for example—there are online laws that state the type of consumer data that businesses are allowed to track and use. E-commerce businesses must see to it that they are compliant with the rules.
The challenge now is serving a personalized experience while staying compliant with data privacy regulations. Thankfully, there’s an answer: leveraging zero-party data.
Zero-party data is any information that the consumers or prospects voluntarily share with you. While it may be hard to obtain, it is very accurate. Take the case of My Jewellery, for example, a clothing and jewelry retailer in The Netherlands.
My Jewellery created a “style profile test” which was a game that let customers choose between two items presented by either clicking a heart or X. After a series of questions, the users can enter their email address and a personalized style profile then sent to them.
Many eCommerce stores are worried about personalizing experiences without third-party data. Ultimately, this challenge brought by data protection and privacy is designed to bring out the best of the best when it comes to customer experience.