The internet and online retail have led to many companies to re-think the way they do business and restructure their organizations to fit the newer, faster and more convenient model of eCommerce. With the “founding” years behind us, consumers now expect brands to have some kind of online shopping experience in place. Retailers that don't fully embrace this trend - such as Sears - tend to fall behind their competitors. In fact, the desire for instant access and super fast delivery will be the norm by 2026.
The technology surrounding us is constantly changing and updating, along with the users’ expectations of how their online experience should take place. For instance, voice search is becoming a new trend, powered by virtual home assistants like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home. According to Disruptive Advertising, almost 60% of people who own a virtual assistant device have used it to make a purchase through voice command. The digital age is bringing fast changes to the world of eCommerce and online retail.
Here are some we can expect changes to the eCommerce industry in the nearest future:
1. More tailored experiences
Online user experience (UX) studies are on the rise and create more and more customized experiences for online shoppers, too. Users are seeing recommendations in web advertisements, custom landing pages created just for their needs and social media posts that somehow know exactly what they are looking for and want to buy. For instance, in the fashion and beauty industry, shoppers are able to pinpoint the exact style of the product they are looking for by selecting their size, fit, color, etc. Other examples of tailored experiences include transactional emails, personalized notifications and reminders that guide the shoppers to the purchasing point, recommendations based on previous purchases, and landing page versions for every type of customer. In the nearest future, we can expect online stores to remember these selections and build customized packages for dozens of buyer personas.
2. Additional opportunities for small businesses
According to Disruptive Advertising, eCommerce is growing 23% year-over-year, yet 46% of American small businesses do not have a website. With user-friendly eCommerce platforms and software like Shopify and CS-Cart, nearly anyone can build an online store without any previous web development experience and have the tools to get started in the eCommerce space.
3. Customer motivation will become easier - and more controversial
When it comes to online shopping, behavioral studies and customer motivation are a science of their own. Online commerce, much like physical retail, relies on customer acquisition and sales cycles to motivate shoppers to make a purchase - or ‘convert’. In the digital age, businesses are held to higher standards of simplicity and speed and customers enjoy an overall more convenient shopping experience. What’s more, the path to purchase is becoming less linear as customers now have access at their fingertips (quite literally) to reviews, competitor information, price checking, and more. With this added layer to the conversion path, eCommerce companies are quickly adapting to the omnichannel approach to marketing.
The behavior change that came from the switch of physical retail to online retail is, in fact, real: a combination of motivating copy, friendly UX and some rational thought help customers experience a wide arrange emotions and urgency. Businesses are actively collecting customer data to build psychology-based persona profiles, test their audience’s motivation and implement triggers to make them buy. This is why analytics plays such a crucial role in any eCommerce business - it allows for retailers to study and better understand their customers remotely.
4. Most technology will favor convenience over innovation
As AdExchanger wisely put it, convenience is the growth engine of eCommerce: the number one reason why consumers like online stores are because they’re convenient. Convenience can be (and will be) powered by many things, like mobile-friendly websites, in-app shopping, and even native social media purchases. In fact, today 30% of social media users say they will make a purchase through a visual social media platform like Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook. In the future, convenience will motivate users to shop more often, purchasing more at once.
5. Analytical automation and seamless sales cycle will become the norm
Nowadays, users are easily distracted by the volumes of eCommerce content circling the internet. That’s why online retailers (both in B2C and B2B sectors) will rely on automation and purchase paths to create customer-centric shopping experiences. As mentioned earlier, the goal of every retailer is to guide their customer through a specific buying cycle: awareness - consideration - purchase, both physically and virtually.