Emerging E-Commerce Trends Shaping Online Retail
Online Shopping is Evolving. Are You Keeping Up?
What would people living in 2030 say looking back at 2020? Undoubtedly, we will brand it as the Year of the Pandemic. The vicious onslaught of COVID-19 that hit most of the planet last year wreaked major havoc in most sectors. The global pandemic forced us to alter our working habits and environment, digital marketing practices, educational approaches, entertainment choices, and even social mores.
Consumer buying habits have also suffered a tectonic shift, with an ever-growing share of consumers opting for e-commerce. This shift led to new e-commerce opportunities and a range of emerging e-commerce trends that will shape the future of online retail.
Online shopping has been on a steady rise throughout the previous decade, propelled by across-the-board digitalization. Yet, unlike many other industries that suffered dramatic setbacks in the plague-ridden world, the disease wrought miracles in the e-commerce sphere that manifested a breathtaking surge of 30% in 2020.
The world is a brand new place, not just socially and politically, but economically. The virus has affected how people shop in such untold ways that commercial vendors scramble to stay on top of things every day.
As for e-commerce, COVID hasn’t so much rocked the boat as sped it up. As a result, trends that were supposed to take a year or more to materialize have arrived. And to survive and thrive in the new e-commerce world, you’ll need to jump on board.
Here are 21 emerging e-commerce trends that will shape the future of online retail.
21 Emerging E-Commerce Trends
1. Environmental Sustainability
Ten years ago, “sustainability” might have seemed like a fad, a buzzword that only a tiny portion of your customer base cared about. But recent events around the world have drastically changed that outlook.
Today, environmental stability is something that consumers can’t ignore.
And not just because it’s the right thing to do to help ease the pressure on our planet’s finite resources. But because customers are demanding it. And they are choosing products and companies based on it.
75% of global consumers say they would change their consumption habits to reduce environmental impact. Nielsen
When researchers asked millennials if companies needed to implement programs to improve the environment, 83% of them said it was “extremely” or “very” important.
We have a couple of ideas on how you can adopt this emerging e-commerce trend (that’s looking like it’s here to stay):
- Update your brand ethos.
- Implement sustainable shipping.
- Reduce packaging.
- Create recycling policies.
- Reduce energy waste.
- Add products that support sustainability.
- Create an offset service charge at checkout.
- Consider an e-commerce marketplace to resell your used merchandise.
2. Personalized Shopping Experiences
Today, the vast majority of stores have an online presence. With plenty of e-commerce sites to choose from, customers are in a solid position to demand a five-star experience. In addition, there’s evidence to suggest that, for many customers, personalization massively improves the purchasing process.
Nearly 60% of people want personalized promotions and offers as they browse your website. Pure360
Over 36 percent of consumers say retailers need to do more to offer personalized experiences. That means by customizing the experience for each shopper; you can help drive conversions.
Every purchase has a positive impact on your revenue. However, repeat customers are valuable, as they deliver a high Return On Investment (ROI) and Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV).
Personalization can help you build rewarding long-term relationships by improving the quality of the customer experience. You can even use it to present yourself as a helpful service, rather than just another online store.
For example, you might recommend new products based on a customer’s previous purchase history or remind them when to reorder their favorite items.
3. Omnichannel Shopping
Omnichannel retailing refers to providing shoppers a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.
Marketers using three or more channels in any one campaign earned a 287% higher purchase rate than those using a single-channel campaign. Omnisend
With the increase in the adoption of mobile devices and voice assistants, I can only imagine that the number of omnichannel customers will increase even more in 2021.
Here are some more ways for you to offer a seamless omnichannel experience:
- Optimize your website for mobile devices. If you have the budget, then create a mobile app or a PWA.
- Personalize the customer experience at every step possible.
- Use tools like SAP Commerce Cloud to ensure a personalized and comprehensive e-commerce experience with end-to-end online retail processes.
- Offer various purchase options, such as
- Buy online, pick up in-store
- Buy in-store, choose home delivery
- Buy online, get doorstep delivery
4. Social Commerce
Social media is a potent marketing tool. For some time now, brands have understood the potential of these touchpoints as an additional sales channel.
Although Facebook and Instagram have not yet integrated the ability to finalize purchases directly into their platforms, the path is clear. Instagram, for example, has recently extended its one-click functionality to shopping in reels. The short videos lasting up to 15 seconds are viral among Generation Z users.
TikTok, on the other hand, has improved its tools in this sector by integrating elements that encourage impulse purchases. These include links in bio, fast checkout, and integration with social payment tools.
5. Visual Commerce
Visual commerce refers to using imagery not just on product pages but also on your entire store to entice users to engage and convert.
Here are some great ways to leverage visual commerce:
- Change your default products from JPG to JPEG2000 or WebP formats to improve quality and loading speed.
- Create 360-degree images or videos of your top-selling products.
- Invest in a visual search tool to allow customers to search for products using images.
- Repurpose user-generated content on your product pages to generate interest.
- Create visual shopping ads on Pinterest to drive traffic to your website and increase sales.
6. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) has been a complete game-changer for e-commerce. With this type of technology, shoppers can experience the item they’re shopping for, which helps them make a buying decision.
61% of online shoppers prefer to make purchases on sites that offer augmented reality technology. Invesp
AR changes the shopping experience in specific industries, such as fashion and home decor. The customer can get a better feel for the item without seeing it in person.
7. AI & Analytics
The option to track customers during their purchase path in real-time, through machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies, ensures an increasingly effective personalization of the ad.
The analysis of the massive amount of information these touchpoints produce, implemented through mathematical algorithms, allows marketers to operate with greater efficiency.
This data helps identify and anticipate sales trends in different geographies and target the brand’s marketing messages.
The future is here. Thanks to AI-powered chatbot technology, businesses can off-load a huge chunk of their customer support operations to robots, delivering better customer experiences and dramatically cutting their operational costs in the process.
According to e-commerce chatbot statistics, over 70% of chatbots accessed will be retail-based by 2023. 99Firms
Chatbots interact with online shoppers much like an in-store sales associate would do. Today’s shopper wants to be able to find and buy a product in just a few clicks, and if they can’t, they get frustrated. At that point, a chatbot can step in and save the sale.
9. Mobile Commerce
Mobile commerce allows customers to make purchases from anywhere, which is vital in today’s world. However, suppose your e-commerce site isn’t responsive on mobile or through web apps. In that case, you’ll be missing out on significant opportunities. Shoppers who are mobile users want the added convenience, plus the ability to pay digitally.
By the end of 2021, 73% of e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device. Statista
10. Headless Commerce
Headless commerce is a separation of the front end and back end of an e-commerce application in its simplest form. This architecture offers brands freedom of expression to build whatever and however, they want. But, most importantly, it enables brands to enrich the customer experience.
As an e-commerce store owner, you know how tough it can be to keep up with the latest tech and best practices.
Headless commerce makes it more accessible. It reduces the time your IT guy/girl/team must spend updating your site and lets you make the improvements and get back online more quickly.
Updates no longer must be rolled out system-wide, allowing you to move faster and remain competitive in a rapidly evolving e-commerce landscape.
11. Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing allows e-commerce retailers to stay competitive and attract more customers. Even if you sell the best product available, you won’t generate enough sales if you don’t price it correctly.
Make sure to choose the right price for your products. By “right,” we mean the amount at which you have the best chance of selling your product while making the maximum possible profits.
Use dynamic pricing software to determine the best price for your products. These tools provide real-time insights into your competitors’ prices, market demand, and the perceived value of your products to determine the optimal cost.
12. Voice Commerce
Voice commerce is a thing now. And in 2021, it figures to be a big thing.
As smart speakers become more and more ubiquitous and the general population’s comfort (and dependency) on them grows, voice commerce is the next major retail disruptor. Therefore you must prepare your e-commerce store needs for voice search.
Global strategy consultants OC&C found that, in the United States alone, voice commerce will account for $40B worth of retail sales by 2022, up from just $2B in 2017. We’re not mathematicians, but isn’t that an increase of 1900% over five years?
13. Diversified Payment Options
We’ll keep this one short and sweet.
Offering payment options removes friction from your store experience, something you should always be striving to do. Customers like options. And when it comes to getting paid, business owners prefer fast payments.
14. Younger Consumer Demographics
There is no denying the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on e-commerce. More than half (54 percent) of consumers increased their spending online after the coronavirus hit.
But even though this shift to online shopping is evident across consumers of all ages, it’s mostly the younger generation responsible for this emerging e-commerce trend.
Survey results show that
Two out of three young consumers aged 18 to 34 spend more money purchasing items online now than before the pandemic. Shopify
That said, from now on, as an e-commerce business owner, you should be targeting the younger generation to increase your sales potential.
To do so, consider increasing your social media marketing efforts. More than half of young consumers who buy from independent brands discover them via social media—more than any other age group.
15. Rich Content
There is a need to support the product proposition, not only with cold data but also by developing a storytelling component. This consumer expectation means integrating into the product offers a descriptive element made up of text, interactive videos, and increasingly voice content.
Returning online purchases is not always easy. Consumers want to ensure that the product they purchased is what they want and expect, so they do not have to return or replace it and perhaps pay extra.
Rich content helps provide a clearer perception of the product, making it more familiar to the buyer and providing the context needed for their purchasing decision.
16. Multilingual Online Stores
Thanks to the internet, your store has the opportunity to reach audiences worldwide. With online shopping more prevalent than ever, we predict that more businesses will capitalize on this global increase by producing multi-language content.
According to estimates, 60 percent of all online content is in English, but 74 percent of internet users speak a language other than English. So if you restrict yourself to a single language, you’re missing out on a huge audience – and a lot of potential sales. Plus, this is one of the emerging e-commerce trends you can take advantage of to make your site more accessible.
Even multilingual customers appreciate businesses that attempt to communicate in their primary language. Research shows that 65 percent of consumers prefer to access content in their native tongues.
When it comes to translating your content, we recommend working with a native speaker wherever possible. They typically offer the highest quality results and will have an innate understanding of the language’s cultural etiquette.
Rather than providing a word-for-word translation, a professional can use this insight to help you create interpreted content that is more engaging and persuasive.
17. Cyclical Subscriptions
Do you offer a cyclical product? One that your customers usually purchase repeatedly, maybe even at regular intervals throughout the year? Think of Dollar Shave Club. This product brand was one of the first to offer “subscribe and save” e-commerce subscriptions.
Customers sign up for repeat deliveries of shaving products like razors, aftershaves, creams, and soaps. The more they buy, and the more often they want deliveries, the more they save.
The reason for offering those savings is that “subscribe and save” options let you better calculate your quarterly and annual revenue projections. Which means you can commit money to grow your business.
Savings for the customer and predictable revenue for you? That sounds like a win-win e-commerce trend to us.
The conversion path is seldom linear. Instead, it is often a highly varied and heterogeneous path, influenced both by the stage where the brand intercepts the user and the different ways the user experiences the advertising message.
Retargeting effectiveness lies in the brand’s ability to intercept a user’s needs who have already interacted with the company. This interaction can be through one or more contact points in various moments preceding the actual purchase.
19. Local Product Listings
Locally available product listings use digital channels to target the potential customers nearby. For example, local inventory ad campaigns include the availability of a product in a given store and a user’s location near that store.
Local inventory ads offer a high possibility of conversion based on explicit user behavior. For example, a user searches online for a specific product. Or users are, at that moment, in the catchment area of the store, and the product could be of interest to them.
20. Online Grocery Shopping
Groceries now account for 12% of e-commerce sales. Even though only 44% of baby boomers say they’re okay with grocery shopping online, that number rises to 77% in the younger generations. In addition, nearly 60% of all consumers are using digital tools to get their groceries.
A look at emerging e-commerce trends further confirms it: online grocery shopping is here to stay. Out of the top 10 fastest-growing categories, six categories consist of items you’d typically get at your local supermarket: soup, grains and rice, packaged foods, fruit cups, milk and cream, and dishwashing supplies.
A full 66 out of the top 100 are all categories you’d find in most grocery stores. You could probably get many items from the remaining 34 categories at some supermarkets as well (nail care, hair coloring, potty training supplies, allergy medications, bread machines, smoking cessation products, etc.).
21. The Rise of Independent Businesses
The last, but not least, of our emerging e-commerce trends is the increasing popularity of independent businesses. Not only are more and more consumers shopping online, but their shopping habits and brand preferences have also evolved.
With the focus on sustainability and environmental practices aside, a growing number of consumers are also becoming more open towards purchasing from independent businesses. More than half (57 percent) say they’re willing to shop with new brands for the first time (Shopify, 2020).
The pandemic drove an increase in support, which affected many small businesses and spurred consumers to buy from them and support them. As a result, over one-third of consumers who shop with independent companies say they’re doing so now more than during pre-COVID-19 times.
Some of the top reasons to buy from independent brands include supporting entrepreneurship, an interest in unique products, and experiencing good customer service.
Adapting to Emerging E-Commerce Trends
Okay, so there are a lot of new and exciting things happening in e-commerce. Technology and people are ever-evolving, and since e-commerce brings it all together, we will always be looking toward the future.
Trends come and go; they evolve and change all the time. And that’s true for emerging e-commerce trends too. So as far as the future of your business is concerned, our emerging e-commerce trends are worth considering.
One thing is for sure is that it’s never too late to jump right in, learn something new, and evaluate if it’s right for your business. But, for now, consumers are in the driver’s seats, and e-commerce businesses will be customizing the journey ahead for them.
How to Decide?
Not every e-commerce trend is worth implementing. But which one deserves your time and effort? Some can provide a huge value-add. Others might be out of touch with your particular audience or be too costly to implement for your business to maintain a reasonable ROI.
Knowing what emerging e-commerce trends will benefit you the most often comes down to knowing your customers, product vertical, and competitors. You can do several things to evaluate industry trends and make the right move for your B2B.
E-Retail Sales Are Projected to Grow to $5.4 Trillion in 2022. Statista
Companies and product brands need to follow the trends that will shape the face of the industry in the future. But success in online retail is impossible without a high-end e-commerce store that meets the demands of ever more sophisticated mobile consumers.
Here at PixoLabo, we offer a full range of e-commerce website consulting and WordPress web design services, including website design and development, e-commerce solutions, search engine optimization, and WordPress optimization.
And if you are still not sure how to decide which of these emerging e-commerce trends you should implement, let’s talk. We will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best e-commerce solutions for your company or product brand!
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