March 21, 2018

Use these 8 eCommerce trends to Level-Up your Online Business

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Trends come along every day. If you want to be on the winning side, you should adapt your business model to such innovations as early as possible. Consumers associate such things with brands. Make sure this is your brand and not your competitor’s.

Ecommerce has become a noteworthy industry over the years. Experts expect the market value of eCommerce to reach 4 trillion by the end of 2020 (double in growth as compared to 2017). The Asia-Pacific region will remain the biggest eCommerce market. Currently, China has the largest volume in sales and revenue. Competition has become fierce and companies are desperately trying to win the hearts of customers one way or another.

There are two well-established business models most online retailers follow. The eCommerce giants such as Alibaba and AliExpress are going under the belt and trying to kill competition by offering cheaper products along with free worldwide shipping. There are also niche players, offering exclusive high value-added products, who are gradually carving their way into specific eCommerce markets. There is no straight answer on what to do to be a successful player in this business, yet you have to bring your best game ever in order to level the competition.

Here are 8 eCommerce trends, which will dominate the eCommerce industry and ideas on how to embrace them and level-up. Our tips will help you cope with the demanding customers as well as keep up with the changing environment.

1) Fast Eco-Friendly Logistics 

Who wouldn’t like to make an order online and receive it on his way back from work? This is not science fiction, but an emerging trend in today’s eCommerce reality. Most online retailers are putting lots of efforts to improve their logistics and offer same-day deliveries within specific geographical regions. Amazon would charge premium for such a “comfort”. Smaller retailers restrict same-day deliveries within a city, usually near their warehouse or a logistic center. Introducing the same-day delivery policy, however will increase operational costs and further pollute the environment. Don’t give up yet, here is how to embrace this eCommerce trend in an efficient way.

Small stores and drop-off points reduce the logistical effort on the retailer’s side and improve customer experience on the other. Imagine ordering something online and seeing that the drop-off point is near or even inside your local groceries store. This way you could enjoy traditional shopping and pick your parcel on the way. By employing such drop-off points or small stores to hold orders, couriers will help eCommerce to become cheaper and eco-friendlier. If you think about it even further, this could be beneficial for the groceries stores since customers, who come in to pick up their delivery will be more tempted to buy some goods as well. Are you still waiting for tips on logistics? Start calculating your routes, planning partnerships with local groceries stores and create a well-developed logistics cluster, which will be win-win for both you and your partners.

2) The rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Having in mind the constant buzz about AI and ML circulating around Silicon Valley, the appetite for such innovations in eCommerce will start to grow even more in the upcoming years. We have already witnessed the rise of Machine Learning, integrated in product recommendation engines as well as improved search functionality. Smart applications will start offering exactly what eCommerce players want in less time. Imagine you want to book an appointment at the hairdresser’s. Instead of having to call someone, you could “communicate” with an app, which uses AI to help you reserve a slot. This will save you time and effort and decrease your phone bill. Using this method will allow your eCommerce business to flourish by making the client-vendor communication process easier and more efficient.

Chatbots are also an on-going trend, which has been embraced by a lot of eCommerce businesses. Good for you, if you are one of them, it means you are on the right track. Just like having a shop assistant when you are in the regular brick and mortar store, the chatbot is there to help you with your shopping. This eCommerce trend is expanding through different messenger apps such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, etc. Some businesses now have chats, where you can directly ask the Virtual Assistant questions, leave feedback, track your order on the map. If the inquiry is more complex, the message is directly sent to an actual person, who can directly contact the customer and answer his question.

They empower the online retailers to advise the consumer when he/she is in doubt and close the sale. Such chatbots can be used to improve the customer relationship management and the overall user experience. Such conversational agents are expected to advance and handle a bigger variety of tasks by completing more complex algorithms, including becoming personal assistants.

We advise your eCommerce business to follow our tip and set-up such accounts in Viber/Messenger, where clients can easily reach you. These are some of the most preferred communication channels for users nowadays. This will drive customer satisfaction levels up and ease some of your business processes.

3) Augmented Reality as the next generation interior assistant in eCommerce

You see a sofa in an online store and you love it. But how is it going to fit within the interior of your place? Imagination can assist in this situation, yet it is not the best option. Instead of having to wait and see how it would look like, you can simply do that with a mobile application. This will heavily reduce the time you spend thinking about it, waiting for it and having to return it (if it doesn’t fit). The first eCommerce trendsetters here are IKEA and Amazon. They have been using the AR in their advantage and the results are stunning. Increased customer satisfaction, significant decrease in returned goods as well as less resource spent on logistics. All this thanks to a simple mobile app.

Don’t freak out when you hear Augmented Reality. Such applications are innovative, yet very simple to create. They simply use the mobile camera to place the offered item in the desired area. This way users can take a picture and actually see the difference and make the final decision on whether to order, without being unsatisfied with the end result once the item arrives. The main reason some people fear online shopping is because once the product arrives it may not fit as expected. Well, here is how to remove this risk, earn new clients and strengthen relationships with existing ones through a simple application and a mobile camera.

4) Cryptocurrencies to revolutionize eCommerce

One of the hottest eCommerce trend rising is cryptocurrency. The most common and widely known currency is Bitcoin, followed by Ethereum. Customers would usually associate those with the usage of the dark web, yet this is not the case anymore. More eCommerce companies have become Bitcoin-friendly over the past years. They would allow various purchase options, one of which would be a cryptocurrency. Giants such as Microsoft, Newegg and Expedia now accept payments in Bitcoin.

The advantage of accepting such alternative ways of payment are lower transaction and merchant fees. Bitcoin has a flat rate of 310 satoshis per transaction, or USD $0.22. Credit card fees are usually in-between 1-3% of the total transaction amount. This makes Bitcoin the most attractive solution. Credit cards also charge extra for merchant fees, which makes them even less desirable. They are also experiencing big security issues, gaps and vulnerabilities. By accepting this new eCommerce trend, your company will become more recognizable on the market, earn new crypto-friendly clients and drive more attention to your brand.

However, bear in mind cryptocurrencies are very volatile, thus prices on your eCommerce platform must be dynamic and adjusted to Bitcoin’s fluctuations every second. Aside from the potential technical difficulties, this is another channel, which will drag more customers to your online store.

5) ROPO is here to bring you more demanding customers

ROPO, or in other words, Research Online Pay Offline falls into the newest eCommerce trends category. Thrift shoppers are the trickiest clients one could wish for. They carefully research and explore all options, before making an actual purchase. BazaarVoice recently conducted a study, where 54% of respondents say they conduct detailed research prior buying. Nowadays, customers are both price and quality sensitive, thus always searching for the point where both meet. ROPO is the best tool for offline conversion tracking. Thus, you can actually see which ads/searches afterwards lead to the biggest increase in sales. This is very simple and anyone, who is wants to follow consumers’ behavior and understand users reasoning can do it for free. Follow the trends and be careful with thrift shoppers.

6) eCommerce data insights. Annoying or helpful?

Remember the last time you went online to shop for something and ended up being bombarded with unnecessary ads?

Everyone has experienced it and nobody likes it. Consumers have become very sensitive and like to see exactly what they are thinking of now. This can be achieved through smart evaluation of the browsing habits of consumers, which will enable online retailers to provide more relevant customer experience.

Modern clients make a research before making a serious purchase. Google, Apple and other companies, engaged in browser technologies and search engines, are willing to sell your browsing data to whoever they see fit. This data is then analyzed and content is recommended, based on searches and past purchases. Pop-up paid ads now appear in Messenger, Facebook and YouTube. Users go to Messenger when they want to text or respond to someone, not buy something. Same applies for YouTube, people want to watch videos, not ads. In both cases chances are they will get annoyed instead of temped to buy. Our recommendation here is to spare some money for something more meaningful, rather than paid advertising on Social Media. What you could do instead is pay an influential vlogger or blogger to make a review of your product and give it to him for free afterwards. The new iPhone X YouTube review has 4.4 million views. This type of content is 10 times more valuable than paid pop-up ads.

7) Voice commerce is here to help

Voice commerce or ordering through your smart home device such as Amazon Echo and Google Home is another emerging eCommerce trend coming along. The leader in this section is Amazon, primarily due to the nature of their service. They allow customers to shop directly from Amazon Prime. On the other hand, Google Home works with partnering stores. Amazon points out that Amazon Echo users alone have contributed to a 10% increase in the usage of Amazon Prime.

However, such ordering options are not available worldwide and are mostly concentrated in the United States and Germany. This does not present equal eCommerce opportunities for other countries to exploit this sales channel. It needs more time to expand and release its full potential. Consumers do not feel confident enough to shop this way yet and changing their preferences is usually a slow and expensive process, so only time will tell how eCommerce trends like voice commerce will affect the online retail.

We would advise players to keep their eyes open for updates on this eCommerce trend and try to become the first ones to adopt it in their countries of operation. The first-movers always have an advantage over the others.

8) Security, especially GDPR

Consumers are becoming more worried for their data every day. Given the various accounts users have in different websites and all personal information stored in them, anxiety levels are rising. Although eCommerce websites reassure clients their data is protected, there has not been a unified body that controls the data protection.

In Europe the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) aims to regulate information holders and protect customers from data abuse. The phenomenon is not limit to companies located within the European Union, but also to companies doing business with European citizens.

Online retailers should exploit this threat as an opportunity and comply with the new regulation to retain the trust of the European customers. Ensuring a secure shopping environment boosts customer retention and brand image of the eCommerce players.

Don’t panic if you don’t know a lot about GDPR yet. There is tons of online content, which can guide you through it and help you better understand it. Read what our Data Experts have to say about GDPR and how it will affect businesses.

Conclusion

Just as all other businesses, the market of eCommerce is constantly changing and requires quick adaptation to new trends. As technology evolves, consumers become pickier and more demanding. Digital is the real deal nowadays, yet Brick and Mortar stores are far from being forgotten. A recent survey shows 53% of Millennials actually prefer buying from a physical place, instead of ordering online. The main reasoning behind this is they want to see/try the item, before purchasing it or get it faster, if the store is in their city. The above-mentioned eCommerce trends will inevitably change the eCommerce business over the next 2 years.

Here is a short wrap-up of what you should take out from this article:

  1. Build a logistics cluster by partnering with local groceries stores in creating drop-off points.
  2. Use Virtual Assistants and Chatbots to create smooth communication channels and to enhance user experience.
  3. Use Augmented Reality to reduce the risk of consumers returning items, or worse, not even ordering them.
  4. Become crypto-friendly. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the hottest topic recently. Don’t miss the chance to win more users by enabling such features on your eCommerce platform.
  5. Track users’ online searches, which later convert into actual purchases to understand and predict consumer behavior.
  6. Invest in video content, produced by influencers, instead of annoying users with paid pop-up ads.
  7. Keep your eyes open for updates on the Voice Commerce trend, since it’s now available only in a limited number of countries. Make sure to be the first mover in your geographical region.
  8. GDPR is coming soon. The eCommerce business will be affected by it. Go read our expert thoughts on this topic and start complying with it before it’s too late.

Bear in mind the eCommerce trends we discussed may double or triple within the next years, so keep your eyes open and remember… innovate, innovate, innovate!

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