When it comes to eCommerce, one word that instantly comes to mind is disruption. In the last 15 years or so, the growth of eCommerce has dramatically transformed retail shopping. The growth is nowhere near slowing down. In fact, Statista estimates online retail goods to surpass 740 billion US dollars in 2023. Categories such as apparel, footwear and accessories are in fact forecasted to increase up to 145.8 billion USD by 2023.
This unprecedented growth points to the market reality. eCommerce is here to stay and gradually transforming the rules of competition. It has provided new value propositions and a paradigm shift in how people buy and sell online.
A vast change in the shopping experience
There is a drastic change in the shopping experience on eCommerce sites, then and now. If you had shopped online in the early 2000s up to 2009, you will have noticed a sea change in the entire user experience.
Shopping online in 2019 looks radically different from that in 2009. One of the biggest transformations of the past decade is how we use multiple devices, channels and global markets to shop. eCommerce has had an impact on everything ranging from parcel deliveries, grocery shopping and the fast technological evolution that has taken many by surprise.
In many ways, 2009 was a breakout year for eCommerce because 2009 saw the internet’s biggest eCommerce brands starting to make a name in the crowded marketplace and the eCommerce sales topped the USD 140 billion mark for the first time.
Cut to 2019 and eCommerce has evolved beyond recognition. Today eCommerce has gone mobile and is all about the ease of shopping on any device you like. Trends and technologies like eCommerce SEO, image search chatbots and social media promotion have changed the face of eCommerce completely.
Here’s looking at the top 6 innovations in the last decade that have transformed eCommerce as we know it:
Where Amazon is neither a technology nor a trend, it is a trailblazer that has set the course for eCommerce innovations ranging from the use of machine learning to recommend products, image search, customer membership programs and many more.
The Amazon effect is the shift in eCommerce customer expectations because of Amazon’s exceptional service. Amazon is greatly credited with raising the bar for other eCommerce services by providing frictionless and easy shopping experiences for its customers.
Mobile sales accounted for nearly 40 percent of all retail eCommerce in the US in 2018, alone. A leading market research firm, eMarketer has forecasted that by 2021 mobile commerce will generate 53.3% of all US retail commerce sales.
These statistics only reflect US numbers, but globally mobile commerce has already surpassed eCommerce.
Mobile checkout is one of the greatest factors for the huge adoption of online as a means for shopping for gen-Z and millennials.
3. Product recommendations in eCommerce
Following the footsteps of Amazon, eCommerce websites started using product recommendation engines that use a filtering system to predict and show the customers what they are likely to purchase.
While it may not be completely accurate, it intends to show products that customers like and may buy at a later date.
Most popular eCommerce sites like Amazon, Alibaba, eBay have their own proprietary recommendation algorithms designed to serve the customer. The more data an eCommerce site can feed, and the more advanced its software, the higher its accuracy in predictions. Therefore, a high-quality eCommerce recommendation engine has a great impact on the conversion rate.
Recommendations also play an important role in product discovery such as iTunes’ Genius Recommendations feature. This leads to more upselling and cross-selling.
4. Social commerce
Social commerce has further broadened the scope and reach of online retailers with channels like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest leading the way. Right from sponsored posts on Instagram to shop sections on Facebook and buyable pins on Pinterest, a lot is happening on each channel to enable businesses to reach more customers and sell directly using these media.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter also serve as customer service tools helping retailers to connect with customers at every stage of the buyer journey. In fact, 30% of customers say they are likely to buy from social channels like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram etc.
Global research and advisory firm Gartner has predicted that 85% of customers’ engagement with businesses will be done without human interaction by 2020. This will include options like self-service and chatbots.
The eCommerce chatbot trend is widely adopted by small and big businesses to provide excellent customer service, automate tasks and improve scalability.
Here are a few benefits of using chatbots in eCommerce:
- Product discovery: Customers can be led to new products
- Responsiveness: Shoppers can find instant answers to their queries
- Notifications: Provide updates and notifications about deliveries, offers and recommendations with personalization.
- Social chatbots: Implement chatbot on your Facebook page to drive more conversion and leads.
6. Voice search
Very few shoppers like to type long strings of text to find what they want. Instead, a voice command takes only a few seconds and is easy to activate when you are multi-tasking. Not surprisingly voice search is one of the hottest trends in eCommerce at the moment.
Voice search is fast becoming a regular part of the customer’s shopping experience and is transforming the way people are using smart devices and search engines.
Two big future trends to watch out for
With the rapid pace of innovation and technological advances in eCommerce, some of the next big trends that will shape the future of eCommerce include Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the use of Progressive Web Apps to improve customer shopping journeys.
1. Progressive Web Apps and eCommerce
Progressive Web Apps bring the best of the web and native apps. PWAs are hailed to be the future of eCommerce because they are device-agnostic, blazing-fast, reliable and provide a native app-like experience without the hassle of downloading or installation. They use significantly less space and data and provide a frictionless user journey.
Plus, you enjoy all the powerful features of the web. Brands like Walmart, Flipkart, Target and Macy’s have already converted to PWA and experienced massive engagement and conversion benefits.
2. AI and ML
Both AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (Machine Learning) help eCommerce brands to provide a more personalized shopping experience. A site can personalize each interaction with the customer and use data to provide the best recommendations, send the right notifications and enable smarter searches.
In fact, AI and ML are already making waves in the way eCommerce sites are leveraging data to provide better service and improve their offering.
While every new trend and technology might not be relevant for all eCommerce businesses, it is still important to keep up with the latest and adopt innovations which are relevant to your business. It is worth noting that mobile continues to rule the roost as far as eCommerce shopping goes and your strategy should include mobile equally if not first.