Latest E-Commerce Trends in 2021: E-commerce is evolving and upgrades are being formulated regularly to enhance e-commerce technologies and improve customer interaction with eCommerce sites.
As customer shopping preferences and purchasing habits lean more and more on convenience, hassle-free experiences, and instant gratification, it is no wonder that the latest e-commerce trends are towards directions that cater to these needs.
Online retailers are seeing the need to garnish their e-commerce platforms with trending services that would enable their potential customers to have optimized experiences while on their sites.
They do this by incorporating new trends that would allow them to intercept the new habits of customers and their expectations of the brand.
These latest e-commerce trends effectively point out areas that online retailers can leverage to improve customer online shopping experience in 2021 and beyond.
1. Augmented Reality
Augmented reality (AR) takes the first spot on the latest e-commerce trends, and bridges the gap felt by customers between physical stores and online shopping experiences.
With this technology, customers can have real-time interaction with products while remaining in their environment.
This is a complete game-changer for eCommerce and enhances the reality of online shopping.
AR gives customers an immersive experience and allows them truly see the item they are shopping for.
Aside from the ability to see a 3D model of a product, AR also lets potential customers see how it looks if they were wearing that product.
All of these features present in the AR technology have profoundly helped customers make a buying decision.
While some products and industries learn more predominantly on traditional shopping methods, AR has been predicted to shake things up sooner than later, especially with the outburst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The results obtained from a survey conducted by PwC’s Global Consumer Insights showed that “global disruption has forced the acceleration of a more digital way of life.”
Before the pandemic, shopping in-store was the dominant method for consumers, with 47% of customers preferring to shop this way for non-food items, compared to 30% who shopped via mobile phone.
Since the pandemic began, however, those who shop online via mobile phone have increased to 45% according to PwC’s report, as well as a substantial increase in those who shop online via computers and tablets.
With more customers veering towards online shopping, AR has proven to enhance the reality of online shopping.
2. A growing volume of “Voice Search”
As one of the fastest-rising e-commerce trends, voice search is certainly the hype these days. This is particularly because it reduces time and exertion as users don’t have to look for keys or type.
More people have been found to rely on voice assistants to complete daily tasks. As such, the volume of voice searches is on the increase. Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana are a few examples of some great platforms that are exceptionally successful with voice queries.
While our habit of getting instant answers has not changed, what has changed is our methods of searches and methods of solutions. Voice-enabled searches are popular and used extensively for shopping online as they make digital shopping easier.
As more homes adopt smart speakers and utilize the voice search option, customers can now order food, groceries, call for a taxi, play music, organize their lives and access any information they need with ease.
The rise of voice search creates an opportunity for eCommerce businesses in terms of keywords and content.
Statistics have shown that the smart speaker market size is set to exceed USD 30 billion by 2024 and Gartner’s study predicts that 30% of all browsing sessions will include a voice search.
The popularity and preference of voice search among internet users, emphasizes the need for e-commerce to include voice search optimization in their marketing strategy.
3. Artificial Intelligence
Also on the list of the latest e-commerce trends, Artificial Intelligence has made it possible for shops to learn about shoppers, thus allowing customers have automated, personalized shopping experiences.
The technology’s AI is built upon is one that functions only digitally, therefore, it cannot be replicated in-store.
Artificial Intelligence is utilized in the eCommerce industry for providing Chabot services, analyzing customer comments, and make product recommendations for customers.
This is done through the continuous collection of data on how a customer shops, when they buy purchases and what they’re looking for in a product or a service using AI.
AI has also been found to have applications in smart solutions and inventory management.
The conventional form of inventory management was restricted to only current stock levels but with the presence of AI, inventory management has been found to extend to maintaining stocks based on data related to sales trends over the previous years, projected or anticipated changes in product demands, and potential supply-related issues that could impact inventory levels.
The emergence of automated robots has been projected as the future of artificial intelligence in eCommerce.
They can be used to store or retrieve stocks 24×7 along with immediate dispatching of ordered items following online order.
Ron Smith, Editor in Chief of The Digital Outdoor, emphasizes how the complexity of AI and the ability to make it more human is also increasingly important:
“People want to know that brands care about them, and AI will be programmed accordingly.
We have currently seen the opposite behavior on social media, where AIs learn from humans’ more negative remarks, but consumers will likely crave the impact. If bots can learn how to form sentences to convey an emotion, companies can soon teach them to offer comfort and products based on customers’ moods.”
4. On-site Personalization is also a part of the latest e-commerce trends
On-site personalization uses insights to create individualized experiences for customers. This is a very important tool in eCommerce as there are a wide variety of products in the market with each client having specific needs and preferences.
On-site personalization creates a customized atmosphere for customers, solely based on their interests. This allows the delivery of a unique user experience, which ultimately drives sales.
AI technology is a very effective tool that allows a buyer to get personalized product recommendations and detailed customer service.
Through on-site personalization, customers are allowed to easily find out what they’ve been looking for as it provides focused and targeted offers to customers.
Attractive promotions are also provided to enhance the user experience by laying out personalized web content.
Researchers have labeled this among the latest e-commerce trends as the ‘Top Commerce Technology’, which confirms that Ecommerce personalization in 2021 and years to come will be a too big thing.
5. “Big Data” is among the latest e-commerce trends and plays a role in creating personalized experiences
As more services are being created and developed by tech gurus, it is inevitable for personalization to eventually make its way to the internet of things.
Many customers are aware that eCommerce sites have personal data but they however have mixed feelings about how big data affects their personalized shopping experience.
Big data is a big buzzword when it comes to the latest e-commerce trends in modern business management.
It refers to extremely large data sets that are usually analyzed to reveal patterns and trends in human behavior.
According to a study by BARC, when eCommerce business incorporates big data in their businesses, it was found that it helped in making better strategic decisions (69%), improved control of operational processes (54%), a better understanding of customers (52%) and cost reductions (47%).
6. Chat-bots are a part of the latest e-commerce trends and improves shopping experiences
Chatbots are also called chatterbots and are a form of artificial intelligence.
These tools aid convenience to customers as they stimulate natural human conversation via the chat interface or voice.
Chatbots interact with online shoppers much like an in-store sales associate would do.
Chatbots have proven to be efficient in assisting shoppers to find and buy products with ease, thus eliminating frustration and saving time.
The reality is that no matter how good your online storefront is, there would always be some customers who would have concerns or questions regarding a particular process.
Since the business is online, there is an all-around 24-hour online shop availability.
When customers visit your online shop, they would want to get immediate or near immediate response to any query they may have.
It is however impossible to have an around-the-clock staff of agents online for 24/7 support 24/7.
By deploying an e-commerce chatbot in your online store, you can provide real-time assistance around the clock.
Chatbots are getting more and more advanced every year.
According to a Conversational Marketing Report by Drift in 2020, the usage of chatbots as a brand communication channel increased by 92% since 2019 and 24.9% of buyers used chat-bots to communicate with businesses in 2020, up from 13% the year before.
In 2025, the size of the chatbot market is forecast to reach around 1.25 billion USD, a great increase from the market size in 2016, which stood at 190.8 million USD.
7. Mobile shopping is still on the move
Mobile shopping, like online shopping, is among the latest e-commerce trends and allows customers to make purchases from anywhere. This has proven to be very vital, particularly in today’s world.
Therefore, online retailers wanting to upscale in the eCommerce industry need to leverage mobile shopping and design their online shops and web apps to be responsive on mobiles.
Mobile shopping is a natural progression of e-commerce. It is an advancement of eCommerce, enabling people to buy and sell goods or services from almost anywhere, simply using a mobile phone or tablet device.
Mobile shopping has been found to account for about 54% of total eCommerce sales and this number is still growing.
Shoppers love the added convenience of shopping on their mobile as it has been found to influence customer buying decisions as one-third of their decision to purchase is influenced by looking up additional information on a product via their mobile devices.
With mobile shopping, potential customers are given access to a wider variety of products, more competitive pricing, with the convenience of doing all of these without having to step away from their phones, allowing them to shop whenever they want, wherever they are.
Augmented reality and chat-bots are the customer experience even more real and personal as with an in-store experience.
8. More ways to pay
When it comes to payment methods, customers have preferences. They may walk away (cancel) from a potential sale if the method of payment is not one they prefer.
Consequently, offering a wide variety of payment gateways on your eCommerce web app is a good way to increase the percentage of users who have completed the desired action on your website. This gives a competitive advantage.
As already established, convenience plays a critical role for the customer. Increasingly, Mobile Commerce is driving a large amount of traffic to sites.
Being set up to convert all site visitors to customers means that various payment gateways such as Amazon Pay, Google Wallet, PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay, AliPay would play a larger part in conversion in the future.
A recent survey by YouGov showed that 50% of customers abandoned shopping when their preferred payment method wasn’t available.
It is, therefore, crucial to offering payment services that customers feel confident in using.
Setting up a unique ID for customers at checkout would provide a centralized wallet service that securely stores customers’ payment information, shipping and billing addresses, preferences, etc. This has been found to increase convenience for customers.
9. Headless and API-driven e-commerce
Headless and API-driven commerce is among the latest e-commerce trends and has been found to allow continued innovation.
More eCommerce businesses are adopting this technology as it allows an online store’s eCommerce platform to be disassembled from your front-end customer touchpoints.
This technology is often referred to as a solution as it is more or less contributes to the huge advancement of the eCommerce industry.
With headless commerce, the world is your storefront. For this technology to provide such profound services, features such as and flexibility on the backend, the added SEO, content marketing, and digital experience capabilities.
This offers immense freedom for online retailers to sell anywhere without design or development constraints.
Headless eCommerce is a profound technology that separates the digital storefront from the underlying engines (systems) that drive your business.
Brands no longer have to feel limited to templated front ends. As a result, this technology provides them the liberty to offer customers a highly personalized experience.
More so, this technology incorporates e-commerce functionality, including social media, mobile apps, smart mirrors, self-serve kiosks, vending machines, voice-assisted technology (like Amazon Alexa).
Statistics are that 64% of large enterprises are developing a grand solution to advance their eCommerce plans.
It has however been found that a further 76% plan to adopt some form of headless tech within the next 12 months.
10. Customers respond to “Video”
In 2019, video proved to be a great way to engage customers. According to the survey, video is not going away anytime soon.
Videos are one such profound tool for eCommerce stores as it not only allows you explain and showcase your products better than images but also allows potential customers get a feel of reality.
Videos can be likened to the role of a sales representative in an in-stores.
Creating videos for your website has been found to allow marketers to have one-on-one interactions.
This is a be a great way to instantly grab and engage a customer and inform them about your product or service and is therefore essential for increasing the percentage of those who complete desired actions on your eCommerce site.
As it gives customers a feel of reality, video marketing helps in building trust by increasing perceived transparency and eventually, brand authenticity.
According to a Sprout Social Survey, 86% of customers say that transparency is at the top of their priority list.
Online retailers can leverage high-quality videos to build brand awareness and increase transparency.
Videos can be used when displaying products in use, reviews/testimonials and even product tutorials, product explainer/overview.
When creating a marketing strategy, it is more advisable to use videos via social media, checkout pages, product pages, paid ads, and emails.
Video augment the opportunity for buyers to learn about how an eCommerce brand’s products and services provide the solution to the opportunity, challenge, or problem a buyer is looking to answer.
11. Subscriptions keep customers coming back
Subscriptions help brands increase repeat purchases.
It was previously a primary business model for businesses like Netflix and Spotify, but as more businesses are seeing the profound benefits of this service, subscriptions have begun to spread to other industries, including fashion and beauty.
Subscriptions are customers a recurring fee, usually monthly or yearly, with which they can gain access to a product or service.
While there are subscriptions of all sorts these days, they have all been found to be based on the principles governing strong customer relationships.
Customers find the convenience of subscriptions to be attractive as such, they are very effective in increasing customer loyalty.
These loyal customers then become reliable sources of recurring revenue.
The longer a customer uses your product or service, the more valuable they become to you and the lower acquisition costs in the long term.
While traditional online retail is based on purchasing for specific purposes, subscription models rely on pre-planned purchasing thus shifting the business towards recurring, predictable revenue.
More and more consumers are leaning towards hassle-free shopping experiences, free delivery, and instant gratification while shopping.
The subscription model serves as is one tool that caters to this need.
It has been observed that more than 12% of the existing online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscription services.
Subscriptions in the e-commerce business have been growing at a very accelerating pace due to the growing number of consumers signing up for various subscription services.
It has been observed that the market size as well adoption rates are reaching all-time highs.
Over a forecast period of 2019-2025, the revenue generated from global subscriptions in the -commerce market is expected to reach USD 478.21 billion by 2025 experiencing a robust CAGR of 68.0%.
12. Sustainability is becoming more important
Consumers are becoming more conscious about where they shop as they are becoming more aware of their environment.
They consider the impacts purchasing from a certain environment could have as well as the related effects.
This concern is the reason why customers lean more on sustenance.
As sustainability measures have positive impacts on the environment, actively promoting it as an online retailer would increase customer loyalty and even attract new customers.
A recent survey found that 50% of respondents wanted more sustainability in the fashion industry, and 75% wanted to see less packaging.
13. Businesses should optimize digital strategy for conversion
Regardless of the nature of the business, you are running, you’ll need to know how to increase conversions to generate more sales, and impact business growth.
Optimizing key site elements have been shown to help in the increase of conversion rate and improve lead generation results.
Optimization allows online retailers to capture more information about their audience and visitors and market to them which would eventually drive traffic to your site.
While it is one task to get potential customers to your site, it is another to get them to complete their desired actions.
Optimizing product pages is an effective tool in improving conversion rates.
Aside from optimization, other ways of increasing conversion rates include conversion analysis tools such as HotJar, Quantcast Measure, Google Analytics, BigCommerce Analytics.
14. B2B is growing…and changing
Survey shows that B2B buyers typically constitute 57% of the way to a buying decision before actively engaging with sales.
72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email. 34% of B2B buyers say their purchase decisions are driven most by features, while 27% say price and 39% say brand.
65.2% of B2B buyers said that they found value in discussing their situations with salespeople. 45.6% of B2B buyers want to hear new ideas at the beginning of a sales conversation.
More and more businesses are beginning to see the value in servicing their customers online.
By automating these tasks through their eCommerce site, teams are moving away from spending the bulk of their time on processing order entries from email spreadsheets or hard copy forms.
Instead, they are shifting their focus towards what matters most: engaging with customers, providing them with an excellent customer experience, and establishing ongoing client relationships.
Late in 2018, Forrester predicted that by 2023, the B2B e-commerce market would climb to 17% more of the 1.134 trillion USD revenue projected for 2018 in a forecast released in 2017.
The internet provides a robust environment in which businesses can find out about products and services and lay the groundwork for future business-to-business transactions.
Data from e-commerce creates an opportunity to manage inventory based on real-time customer behavior data.
The frequency of customer activity from e-commerce behavior provides new training data to support predictive machine learning models.
A retailer can establish machine learning models that establish a relationship between operation activity to customer choices.
Moreover, retailers can develop forecast guidance based on activity, yielding better ordering schedules, fostering metrics for operational efficiency, and raising better communication among managers overseeing a retail operation
This underscores the importance of marketing to pave the path at every step of the journey for consumers to learn about and engage with your brand.
Ecommerce is indeed the future of sales.
As new services and new applications for already existing services are being discovered daily, online retailers must keep abreast with the latest e-commerce trends to enable them to thrive in this industry.
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