The resurrection of e-commerce is happening all around us. Therefore, we can say e-commerce is a goliath industry. So, it’s no wonder that people are always asking about the future of e-commerce. Every merchant entering the new growing e-commerce market at some point faces the question: “Will eCommerce continue to grow?”
E-Commerce has indeed come a long way since the last two and half decades of its existence. According to Statista, global e-commerce sales reached a whopping 2.3 trillion US dollars. The numbers are predicted to grow to a massive 4.88 trillion dollars by 2021. With that said, e-commerce is still in its infancy, and the best is yet to come.
Cutting edge digitally native brands are experimenting with voice commerce, testing augmented reality-enabled online-to-offline experiences. With headless e-commerce and progressive web applications, the world is becoming a storefront as brands enable e-commerce via smart mirrors, video games, and live streams. Nowadays second and third-tier shopping malls are being reborn as experiential destinations with theme parks, ski hills, and water slides. Legacy manufacturers and CPG companies are reinventing themselves by selling direct-to-consumer to accelerate growth.
So, e-commerce becomes an industry that is constantly shifting in an attempt to shape the way that people in every corner of the globe purchase products. This makes the future of e-commerce exciting. A lot of big things are expected to change in e-commerce over the coming years, and here’s the helping guide to let you better understand what the future of e-commerce will look like.
Emerging Markets Will Play a Huge Role
Emerging markets like India, China, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa are projected to play a massive role in the future of e-commerce. This might not be totally surprising, given the recent growth of some of these nations’ economics, but let’s look a little deeper.
It’s estimated that around 3 billion potential buyers from emerging markets will have access to high-speed internet by 2022. That’s a lot of potential customers. It’s also expected that 20% of all retail sales in 2022 will come from buyers who currently reside in those emerging markets. That’s a lot of potential sales. The most exciting part about all of this is that a lot of these markets are relatively untapped by existing e-commerce businesses at the moment.
This means that there is a ton of potential for existing businesses to branch out and reach new audiences. It also means that there are a lot of opportunities available for new e-commerce brands to pop up within those emerging markets and tailor their services towards local audiences.
Physical vs. Online Debate
We can’t talk about the future of e-commerce without mentioning the ever-growing physical vs. online debate. Generally, people within the e-commerce industry fall into one of two camps in this debate. There are those people who believe that it’s just a matter of time before brick-and-mortar stores fade out in favor of an even bigger shift towards online shopping. And there are those who see physical shopping entering a renaissance period.
It’s undeniable that the growth of online shopping is far outpacing the sales from brick-and-mortar stores. But that doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores aren’t still incredibly valuable assets for e-commerce brands. Instead of functioning as a real-life version of their online stores, brick-and-mortar locations seem to be switching towards offering unique shopping experiences.
E-Commerce is no longer dominated by B2C. B2B eCommerce sales are predicted to grow to $6.6 trillion this year. There is a growing trend where companies are buying software, products, and services for their own workforce. Never has it been more important for companies to have the software it needs to automate as many processes as possible. Or the best ergonomic chairs for the wellness of their staff.
B2B is no longer just wholesalers selling to retailers. It is a booming industry that is led by SaaS and technology companies. Every day we learn about a new tool that automates or recreates activities that unclog our desk of manual tasks. These advances in technology make our lives easier, and businesses more profitable. So, it’s no surprise that businesses are allocating more budget to B2B purchases every year. If you are a B2B merchant, you should ensure that your e-commerce store allows for large orders, invoicing, volume-based discounts, and the ability to reorder easily. With all these features in your e-commerce store, you are on the road to success.
Companies embracing out-of-the-box marketing strategies are experiencing rapid growth. There were 1.66 billion online buyers in 2017. This number is expected to skyrocket to 2.14 billion by 2021.
So, what are the emerging trends of 2020 for the exciting future of e-commerce? Keep on reading and you’ll get to know by the end of this article.
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Emerging Trends to Watch Out in 2020 and Beyond
Personalization and Customer Engagement
Compared to traditional retail shopping, e-commerce stores lack face-to-face personal interaction. Online stores don’t have a retail clerk who can recommend products based on your interests, tastes, and preferences. To mimic this experience, e-commerce companies leverage personalization opportunities throughout the shopping journey. Much like online course providers are replacing the need for in-person teaching, e-commerce is replacing the need for in-store retail experiences.
Using personal online data such as search queries, page visits, and purchase history, brands transform their online stores to best serve the customers’ needs and interests.
For example, log in to your Amazon or Flipkart account. You’ll find recommended products based on your past purchases, ads tailored to your search history, and marketing copy speaking directly to you. Expect more brands to follow suit as personalization technology becomes easier to integrate into e-commerce sites.
Much like personalized e-mails generate 6X higher transaction rates and convert better than cold e-mails, consumers spend 48% more when their experience is personalized. In an age where privacy is key, studies also revealed 57% of online shoppers are comfortable with providing personal information to brand, as long as it directly benefits their shopping experience.
Connecting your online store to a CRM will allow you to use your customer’s purchase and website behavior to personalize your marketing, e-mails, and even pages for abandoned cart nurturing, as well as upsell campaigns.
AI, Voice Assistants, and Chatbots
In late 2019, robots invade e-commerce stores. Well, robots such as chatbots and Artificial Intelligence designed to enhance a customer’s overall shopping experience. AI assistants can handle a number of tasks typically assigned to a human, such as managing inventory or handling inquiries. These digital assistants carry out various processes, freeing up time for you to focus on other aspects of running the business.
For example, chatbots can fulfill a number of customer service needs, from answering questions about a product to discussing a complaint. AI and chatbots also learn from customer conversations and evolve to better assist in a user’s personalized e-commerce experience.
As reported in a Statista study, 34% of respondents stated they would be comfortable getting answers to their questions from AI, such as chatbot or virtual assistant, when shopping. You can easily get started yourself. There are many tools available today that allow you to create your own bot for free.
Interactive Product Visualization
We’ve all hesitated to hit the “Buy” button when shopping online. Before you enter your payment info, you begin to wonder:
Is this product going to be exactly what I need?
Is this a quality product? Or, is this a knock-off?
As a result, we have a strong need to interact with a product before we commit to a purchase. Online reviews and influencer trends aren’t enough. We want to see the product, feel it, hold it in our hands, and remove all feelings of the doubt before purchasing. Even e-commerce product videos have evolved to be more engaging. What was once a cheesy infomercial has transformed into an immersive, 360-degree online shopping experience. Interactive product visualization technology seeks to bring tangible in-store experience to online consumers and alleviate their hesitation prior to purchasing.
E-Commerce Sellers Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Selling
Today, social media platforms are more relevant than ever before, especially for the e-commerce industry. For example, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram logs over a billion active users every month. According to reports, the average adult spends over five hours every day on their mobile devices and more than half of this time is spent on messaging, social media, and other entertainment apps.
The good news here is that – a large number of people are buying on social media. According to survey reports by Statista, more than 18.6% of respondents stated that they had bought products directly from brands using social media platforms. This number is expected to grow in the coming years, as trends suggest. Brands that have adopted social media selling have already started seeing huge success rates. Therefore, experts suggest that online shoppers are steadily migrating from native apps to buying on social media.
So, it’s confirmed that you could be losing out a major chunk of your revenue if you don’t offer buying capabilities on social media to customers.
Simplicity with the Best Functionality will Drive More Customers
In the early years of e-commerce, most online shopping sites didn’t consider functionality. Rather, they were focused on adding flashy graphics and other gimmicks to their online stores. Thankfully, all this has come to an end. Today, businesses are moving away from complex web stores that take a long time to load. The modern e-commerce stores of today are clean, minimal and aesthetically simple. But that doesn’t mean these pages are simple. In fact, the e-commerce stores of today offer a whole range of features that weren’t present before. From one-step checkout to intuitive searches & personalized shopping, the functionalities are astounding.
Content Will Continue to Rule But Shifts to Visual & Audio Content
Short texts with plenty of visual content are more likely to attract customers than plenty of text and little to no images. This is just how things work nowadays. People perceive visual and audio information better. So while figuring out your content marketing strategy, remember to use more images, infographics, and video tutorials to get to your desired audience base.
Building a marketing strategy in multiple sales channels isn’t new. It’s becoming a must-do. Modern shoppers think omnichannel. They use a range of devices to look for the information and buy things too. You should be within the reach of a hand to give them what they are looking for, right here, right now. Just keep in mind the fact that 73% of customers use more than one channel when shopping online. And this percentage is only to increase over time.
Newest Payment Options
The new trends in online shopping logically lead to new ways a shopper should be treated. It especially concerns checkout options as this is the place where the final buying decision is made. Therefore, checkout should be as smooth and offer as many options as possible.
Trends to Consider in 2020 If You Haven’t Earlier for Checkout Options
With mobile e-commerce conquering its share of the market, e-commerce pioneers have been adopting new payment methods. After all, it’s not very comfy to enter your credit card details over and over again each time you want to make a payment. It’s so much easier to tap a button and confirm your payment with two-factor authentication. Storing the payment details would be even easier but with such sensitive data, it’s the worst idea possible.
In the current situation, the digital wallet is a real savior. You attract your clients by ease of use and at the same time provide a high level of security. There is a wide choice of digital wallets out there, suitable for any device and working in most countries and with all major banks.
This option has also evolved along with mobile e-commerce. Omnichannel commerce to be precise. E-commerce merchants have been using messengers to communicate with their clients and provide assistance for a while now. Why not let them pay right there? A few messengers provide this option by default.
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that is created and handled with the help of advanced encrypted techniques or cryptography. Before Bitcoin was created, the cryptocurrency used to be a mere academic concept with no practical use whatsoever. But things changed later on when Bitcoin grew in popularity and new cryptocurrencies evolved.
Even though it was launched 10 years ago, we can’t say it’s widely popular in e-commerce. On the other hand, cryptocurrency is independent of banks. Yes, ironically enough, the problem with cryptocurrency is the same thing that makes it so special.
Being issued collectively by a network, Bitcoin isn’t affected by government manipulation. But on the other hand, there is no central authority ensuring things run smoothly. Besides, cryptocurrency provides anonymity which makes it the best choice for illegal activities, such as money laundering, drug and weapons trade, etc.
So, while e-commerce sites do accept cryptocurrencies, we seriously doubt that its future isn’t as controversial as its present. Accepting Bitcoin in your online store is alright, it’s legal (in some countries not, though) and secure enough. Another thing to consider is that it costs virtually nothing. It’s not made of gold. It’s not issued by any trusted bank and it costs almost nothing to mine a fortune. So, it can vanish as fast as it appeared, leaving you with no money and no one to blame. We wouldn’t offer it as the payment option; however, you can still explore this and move on with the option at your own risk.
If your philosophy has been “Business as usual”, then it’s high time that you rethink it. Today, e-commerce is the cusp of a paradigm change. And, if you would like to survive in the dynamic market of the future, then you need to adapt and evolve. And, this applies to all brands from Fortune 500 companies to small startups. Keep an eye on the trends and try to stay ahead of the race by being an early adopter.