2020 was a strange year, and brands need to adapt faster than ever now that the future of eCommerce has changed quite significantly. With the pandemic still making sales of some products plummet and sales of others skyrocket, it has become difficult to know how the online shopping experience will change. If businesses want to take advantage of new eCommerce trends, then it is important to understand what we might be running into in the near future.
1: Online B2C shopping is the future of ecommerce
The pandemic has shown customers that the online retail industry cuts away a lot of the limits of in-person shopping, and more of them are starting to shop online for whatever product they need. Online retailers and delivery businesses continue to see massive increases in attention as shoppers try to avoid in-store retail, however they can, sometimes even taking advantage of multiple channels in their hunt for the products they want. The need for “shopping experiences” isn’t as vital as being able to get the product they want when they want it, and this attitude has spread across every industry and has given new options to companies like Afterpay.
How to take advantage
Whether it is on custom-built mobile stores or marketplaces like Amazon, retailers can push for more online commerce with very little push-back. The internet has stopped being a B2B solution, and customers are finding themselves turning to an online shop for a product that they would normally buy themselves: we are even seeing people buying food over Amazon.
2: Personal touches will get top priority
Before COVID, finding retail trends to watch involved looking at what consumers were buying. Now that shoppers are more aware of their own needs and limitations when regular retail products are not freely available, the push for consumers to have a personal say in their purchased products is starting. On top of that, they are more willing to give up information in return for their life becoming a little bit easier, which any brand can find useful.
How can I as business use this?
Something as small as customising a delivery date can go a long way when a visit to a local store is not on the table, and brands have become increasingly open to customisable products. Just look at Zoom: the backgrounds feature has become a viral piece of marketing in itself, with each customer sharing their own digital creations that personalise the experience with no effort required on the company’s part. If consumers are able to see things and apply their own spin on the product, they will become more attached – a perfect way to draw in more e-Commerce business to your website.
3: Improvements to the stay-at-home life
The reality of the COVID-19 means that the average house has become an office as well as a living space, one of the changes that will easily outlive the pandemic. Not only do people consume and create more social media content in their own house, but they will probably continue to work there even after the pandemic ends. Any business that makes the process easier, from digital communications to online stores that make comfortable desks and chairs, will have a lot of customers to choose from.
How does this help?
COVID is still setting in for some customers, so more people are likely to go shopping for two things: improvements to their working-from-home experience, and distractions to replace the normal commuting or after-work walks that they might take. This could cover anything from augmented reality mobile apps to social media platforms that offer a glut of video content to view: the more distractions and comfort customers are looking for, the more they will be willing to spend.
4: AI and chatbots are trends to watch
The artificial intelligence industry is a very limited one, but we have been seeing huge strides in how customers can use it. Not only can AI now allow customers to generate their own entertainment through chatbots, but videos of certain AI products have started to trend online, opening up a whole new set of potential commerce opportunities. AI has also started to improve customer experiences and generate some practical marketing material, with many more uses we have yet to explore.
What does this mean?
Whether you add it to your website as a silly gimmick for social media or include it as a tool for personalised purchase recommendations, AI gives a taste of a new normal when it comes to online commerce. A business that adopts AI in the right way can not only chase brand new eCommerce trends that have the potential to go viral but may be setting the stage for other companies to come and purchase their AI system as a B2B offer. Now is the perfect time for small AI companies to work on the ‘next big thing’, especially if they can slap an “all rights reserved” on it and make it part of their brand identity.
5: Marketplaces are permanent eCommerce upwards trends
When most customers say they will buy from brands, they actually mean that they will go to an online marketplace rather than the brands’ web stores. The trend of people turning to eCommerce marketplaces like Amazon, rather than a standard eCommerce website store, has exploded since the original lockdowns, and for a very good reason. When people need many products from many retail brands, they like to have an eCommerce option where everything can be bundled into a single purchase.
How will this change things?
The last year has seen brands become almost irrelevant to the average consumer because it is not about where the product is hosted or who created it: it is about availability. The trend of buying the first suitable product they can see will pay off for any business that can insert themselves into a marketplace. The next few years may be full of situations where an item is not chosen because of quality or branding, but because it was hosted on the right site at the right time and was seen by the right pair of eyes. Services, such as Payday Deals, can take advantage of this massive shift in customer focus and attention too.