08 Jun What Can We Expect in the Future of E-Commerce?
E-commerce has enjoyed a massive spike this past year due to several factors, including a global pandemic that shut down traditional retail and kept people at home and a recent explosion in technology that makes online selling easy for anyone. Revenue in this sector continues to rise and is projected to reach new heights this year. As new entrepreneurs and seasoned business professionals alike give in to the allure of launching online brands, the future of e-commerce will require companies to become savvy about every aspect of their customer experience, from marketing strategies to payment options. Remaining up-to-date on the latest e-commerce trends will be crucial to keeping the revenue flowing.
Projected E-commerce Revenue Exceeds $1 trillion Between 2020 and 2025
The researchers at Euromonitor International have projected that nearly half of retail growth between 2020-2025 will come from online sales and that total growth in that period could exceed $1 trillion. Though online sales still account for a relatively small portion of global retail, it’s clear that momentum favors e-commerce, and that online shopping will become more prevalent as digital tools and consumer expectations evolve.
This growth is excellent news for entrepreneurs who plan to launch an e-commerce business or expand the online presence of an existing brick-and-mortar store. E-commerce trends demonstrate that the consumer appetite is there, but brands need to step up and deliver now that competition and expectations are higher than ever.
E-commerce Brands Must Satisfy Rising Consumer Expectations to Thrive
Research into consumer attitudes and behaviors around e-commerce shopping reveals that they expect high performance from their favorite e-commerce brands. Companies that fail to meet these expectations face serious consequences. According to the EY Future Consumer Index, only 21% of e-commerce customers forgave mistakes made by e-commerce brands during the COVID-19 crisis. That means that even in one of the most challenging economic situations in living memory, consumers expected brands to be able to deliver on their promises without delays or product issues. Those consumers are unlikely to become more forgiving as the global economy reopens and excuses for mistakes disappear.
For new e-commerce sellers, this attitude presents a serious risk. If a fledgling brand cannot deliver a high level of service due to a lack of resources or technical problems, it may not survive long enough to meet customer expectations in the long run.
Invest In Technology Early To Achieve Growth
In the future of e-commerce, rising expectations are sure to push entrepreneurs to go big from the start. With an unforgiving audience of online shoppers, new companies will need to invest early to compete with established brands that have already captured consumer trust. Customers are looking for brands that deliver seamless shopping experiences that conveniently fit into their everyday lives. Investments in technology can enrich customer experiences and marketing activities to build an engaged audience, convert leads, and establish brand authority.
While many free or inexpensive e-commerce tools exist in the marketplace, most require higher subscription fees as companies exceed certain thresholds. Companies should consider these costs to prepare for future growth and plan for scalability. It’s important that sellers set aside the resources and capital to continue to invest in the customer experience as expectations change.
Platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce have become mainstays in the e-commerce world. They offer shoppers a complete experience while providing valuable tools for sellers—without increasing the company’s workload.
Automation Is An E-commerce Trend That Will Become Standard
Automation and machine learning are quickly becoming essential technologies for e-commerce brands. With the fast pace of e-commerce retail, it’s nearly impossible to keep up with the flow of orders, returns, marketing, social media, and all the other daily work of running a business. That’s where automation comes in.
Automated processes—sometimes known as robotic process automation—are quickly becoming ubiquitous in the e-commerce world because this technology takes much of the transactional and analytical work out of running an e-commerce business. Machine learning is essential when it comes to data management. A growing customer base means more customer and marketing data and less time to manage it all.
Automation can also reveal opportunities and problems in a business’s strategy that would be difficult for a human to identify. For example, marketing automation can highlight opportunities to present shoppers with relevant content and advertising that matches their demonstrated interests and buying behavior. It can also reveal where customers fall away from the conversion funnel, enabling marketers to craft more effective campaigns.
Omnichannel Selling Is Expected
Automation is also critical because e-commerce selling has expanded past the confines of the digital storefront. While a brand’s website is among its most important tools, it’s no longer sufficient to offer customers a smooth experience on the website alone. These days, consumers should have the ability to shop whenever and wherever they want, and on whichever platform and device they enjoy the most. Meeting consumers where they are is critical to success in the future of e-commerce.
Omnichannel is the new sales and marketing standard. Customers expect to continue their shopping experience from a website to social media, mobile apps, and other channels without interruption. They also expect to be able to complete the entire transaction within any one of those channels without needing to leave. The most successful e-commerce brands create storefronts that can be shopped directly through social media channels like Instagram or TikTok, letting customers complete an entire transaction without ever leaving the app.
For brick-and-mortar businesses that are diving into e-commerce, omnichannel selling also means finding ways to integrate digital shopping into the experience at physical retail locations. Many shops will enable customers to pick up and test out the items they purchased online in a physical store, making it easy for them to decide if they’re satisfied and return a product if they’re not. The connection between online shops and brick-and-mortar stores also provides sellers new opportunities to qualify and upsell customers, which helps to boost revenue and provide excellent customer service.
Personalized And Holistic Marketing Boosts Conversions
Consumers expect brands to deliver high-quality, immersive shopping experiences that are personalized to their needs and interests. Customization is critical as a large portion of customers report they are turned off by brands that show them content that isn’t relevant to them. Every part of the experience should reflect the brand’s understanding of its customer, from email marketing and display ads remind customers of items in their wish lists to online stores that make product recommendations based on each shopper’s past purchases or browsing behavior.
Building this kind of personalized and engaging experience requires investment in the brand and its target audience. With such a competitive landscape and demanding consumers, it’s critical for new brands to build strong from the start and for existing brands to never get complacent. Staying on top of e-commerce trends as they evolve will be crucial to ongoing success and customer satisfaction. The future of e-commerce looks bright, and it’s up to companies and aspiring brands to step up and give customers what they need so they can reap the rewards in loyal fans and steady revenue.