Use These 8 eCommerce Trends to Level-Up Your Online Business
E-commerce 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.
E-commerce 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 of 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 up the competition.
Keep reading to the end of this post, to find out more about the latest eCommerce industry trends and get ideas on how to embrace them and level-up your business. My 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 a premium for such a “comfort”. Smaller retailers restrict same-day deliveries within a city, usually near their warehouse or a logistics 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 industry 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.
In a post named “E-Commerce Supply Chains in 2018: Millennial Consumers Most Concerned with Speed and Affordability of Deliveries” from August 2018, Helen Carey gives even more statistics and details about “Speed-of-delivery” as the main factor for success.
Here is an excerpt from the post:
For today’s millennial consumers, timeliness of deliveries ranks high on the list of requirements for customer satisfaction. In fact, in a study of 3000 consumers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, conducted by e-commerce company Radial, over one-third – 39.7% – of respondents ages 18 to 24 said that speed of delivery is their main concern when shopping online.
These respondents also reported that they were frustrated by the speed of deliveries in general. The study found that 59% of millennials said that orders were consistent in their timeliness and also in “perfect condition.” This means that about 40% of respondents experienced issues with online order deliveries. The survey noted that younger customers are generally “more critical of delivery and fulfillment orders than their older counterparts”.
These are important findings, as e-commerce retailers must fully consider millennials’ experiences and expectations; this group makes up a large portion of the e-commerce consumer base and is very particular regarding deliveries. This may be due partly to the fact that millennials grew up with e-commerce and consider it the norm, as opposed to older consumers who may still view online ordering as novel or luxurious, and therefore have lower expectations.
From this study, you will find even more important findings, also mentioned in this post below.
Key Findings from the Study:
- An average of 36.8% of respondents said they prefer items to be delivered in environmentally friendly packaging. Baby boomers and millennials made up the majority of this percentage.
- Of all respondents in the 18-to-24-year-old age group, 20.6% said they didn’t feel the high costs associated with expedited delivery were worth the added convenience.
- Respondents from all geographical locations and age groups said they prefer having packages delivered to their doorsteps, as opposed to picking up packages from lockers, having a proxy signer nearby, or allowing delivery companies direct access to their homes.
- In the 18-to-24-year-old range, 33.5% of respondents said they have been frustrated by deliveries taking too long to arrive.
- In the 18-to-24-year-old age group, 12.6% of respondents said they were concerned about package theft.
- Only 8.7% of Americans said that they would consider utilizing automated delivery if it relied on the Internet of Things (IoT) tracking tools. However, 35.2% of millennials said that they would consider this.
- Almost half of all survey respondents reported that they pick up items in stores after ordering online. These numbers were highest in the United Kingdom and Canada.
You can find out more about this study, here. These findings may be useful in guiding online retailers and the whole e-commerce industry through today’s ever-evolving e-commerce landscape.
The responses gathered show that timeliness and affordability — and, increasingly, eco-friendly, sustainable packaging — are consumers’ biggest concerns.
Another recent study conducted by AlixPartners showing that the average U.S. customer is willing to wait only four and a half days for a delivery, down from five in 2012, these tactics are more important than ever.
The same study, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers, also showed that nearly third-fourths of respondents want their deliveries to be free of charge.
Here are some images with data that will give you more context:
Figure 1: Free shipping is still critical to purchase decision
Q: When ordering an item for delivery, how does the choice of free shipping impact your ordering decision?
Figure 2: Nearly half of the Amazon Prime Members want items in three days or less
Q: Are you or any member of your household an Amazon Prime member? When buying an item for delivery, what is the maximum delivery time you are willing to accept in order to receive free shipping?
Figure 3: Shipping costs, instant need, and discounts are top reasons for in-store pick-up
Q: What would be reasons that you would consider picking up your order in store?
Figure 4: Shoppers plan to spend more on home furnishings and furniture in the next 12 months
Q: Please select all of the product categories you plan to purchase for delivery in the next 12 months.
Figure 5: Majority of shoppers don’t mind their order arriving in multiple packages
Q: When buying multiple items, does it matter if the shipment arrives in multiple packages over the course of multiple days?
Therefore, you need to take a sit and think about your logistics and delivery offerings very seriously. It is extremely important what kind of shipping opportunities you have to offer to your online customers and at what price.
With giants like Amazon and AliExpress, you need to define very specific goals and more importantly to build and follow а strategy to achieve them.
If you are looking for some serious and sophisticated business automation and transformations, including your logistics procedures, you can give us a call or contact us to discuss your needs.
Now, keep reading to see what else you need to implement as soon as possible if you are serious about your e-commerce business.
2. The rise of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Having in mind the constant buzz about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) circulating around Silicon Valley, the appetite for such innovations in the eCommerce industry will start to grow even more in the upcoming years.
I have already witnessed the rise of ML, integrated into 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. 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.
Here are some examples of AI in eCommerce
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 your inquiry is more complex, the message is directly sent to an actual person, who can directly get in touch and address your 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 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.
Do not stop here! Move forward and if not, set-up Viber and Messenger accounts for your Online Business.
This is the way to be as close as possible to your clients and some of the places where your customers can easily reach you.
These are some of the most preferred communication channels for users nowadays. Implementing them into your business will drive customer satisfaction levels up and ease some of your business processes.
Act now! If you don’t know how, check our service page and contact us, right now. We will create sophisticated chatbot for you and will help you grow your business.
Customer Relationship Management Platform (CRM)
Huge efforts were made to gather and evaluate data to offer superb services to clients. And I believe you already know that gone are the days when a human resource was the base of Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Now, AI can sift you and your business through vast volumes of data to predict exactly which clients will execute a buying decision, therefore, efforts are made to secure their engagement.
Using advanced CRM solutions, you can make predictions with enhanced accuracy, thus the sales team can concentrate on building long-lasting associations with customers.
Moreover this, your sales representatives are relieved from the monotonous task of analyzing numbers. They can now just focus on their revenue goals. So, now AI has become the fulcrum of sales efforts.
Internet of Things (IoT)
If you know what is IoT, you know that cohesion leads to smoother operations. This is what IoT intends to do. Offering connectivity in all elements of our life. If you don’t exactly know what IoT means, you can find out more about the internet of things here.
IoT is having an impact on virtually everything in our lives. From syncing different devices to programming your washing machine, lights, household appliances, and even your car, IoT is simply everywhere. It even monitors the city’s traffic lights and the quality of air.
IoT is basically an offshoot of AI and is changing the parameters of our life. Therefore, both B2B retailers and B2C retailers can benefit tremendously from the IoT revolution.
Offering IoT integrations and connections to our customers allow them to grow their business in a more cost-effective way. We tackle complexity and performance with state-of-the-art software and infrastructure architecture, leveraging every aspect of their business.
AI and achieving your Sales goals
It is the sales which make the world go around. E-commerce is basically all about generating sales. On the other hand, Artificial Intelligence can help you in the entire customer journey processes. From finding the prospective customer to rendering after sale services.
Moreover this, AI can be used to generate precise revenue forecasts at macro-level. Implementing software and hardware that uses AI as the core will give your sales managers clear insight into sales trends which are segmented by your sales reps. This is what we aim for every project that we develop for the needs of our clients.
Due to this our customers optimize their resource allocation and put together a healthy pipeline, examine team performance, and all this lead them to cost-effective outcomes.
What is automation? How does it affect the e-commerce industry? One thing is sure, artificial intelligence and machine learning do not connote that robots are taking us over, even though some feel has these impressions.
Basically, AI is providing retailers with the opportunity to offer what exactly a customer desires, and that also regardless of any time constraint.
Artificial Intelligence and machine learning do not connote that robots are taking over, even though some feel have these impressions.
3. Augmented Reality as the NextGen interior assistant in the eCommerce industry
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, a significant decrease in returned goods as well as less resource spent on logistics. All these thanks to a simple mobile app.
The global augmented reality market is expected to grow significantly to about 90 billion U.S. dollars by 2020, according to websites like statista.com. Revenue from augmented reality is projected to three times as high as that of VR by 2020. In 2022, AR hardware device shipments are projected to reach an estimated 68.9 million units—in comparison to 45.6 million VR hardware devices.
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 is why users can take a picture, see the difference, and make the final decision on whether to order or not. All that without being disappointed 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, implementing AR in your business 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 rising trends now 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 in 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.
Here is a list of some of the benefits that you and your business will gain when you start processing bitcoin transactions:
The scariest nightmares for every eCommerce merchant will be more easily handled. Maybe you don’t know, but Cryptocurrencies go through a push transaction. That is the way how cash is exchanged between cardholders and merchants.
Cardholders decide how much money to give before the purchase. And merchants cannot take more money than what is voluntarily given. The sale is done once the cardholders give the bits or bitcoins to the merchants.
A chargeback can occur if a purchase is paid by credit card. Not only may you lose revenue from the sale, but you may also end up paying costly chargeback fees. All transactions with Cryptocurrencies are protected by the Crypto network. That means you can accept payments without worrying about the threat of fraud or chargebacks.
Little to No Fee
Another downside of fiat money transaction in the eCommerce world is the conventional credit card fees, which can start from 2-3% to the merchant and can increase depending upon the terms fixed by the bank. For small business modules, even these 2-3% additional charges can add a lot to the end result over time.
There are no fees for merchants to accept transactions in Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc. And there are no fees for storing bitcoins.
Those are two great benefits! But you as a merchant will pay a small fee because you need to hire a company in order to process bitcoins. This fee is much smaller than most of the credit card processing fees. Especially for small businesses that are paying much higher credit card fees.
Maybe you are working with overseas suppliers and they mostly don’t have a bank account in your country or third-party transaction bridges. All that means, that every time you place an order overseas you will have to spend an international wire transaction fee, which may range from $25-$40 USD or even more! Using Crypto as a payment mechanism will save you a lot.
Due to Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance & fraud protection, all merchants have to carry additional costs for multiple financial compliance regulations and security checks for accepting credit cards.
Compared to this, although Bitcoin transaction requires wallet security on both merchant and payer sides, here neither payer nor you as a merchant have to carry out any kind of additional charges or processing fees.
As you can see, this is a short list with benefits, why you need to pay close attention to Cryptocurrencies market and why you need to consider receiving payments in Crypto.
5. Research Online Pay Offline (ROPO) consumer behavior
The ROPO consumer behavior is here to bring you more demanding customers. It 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 to 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 afterward lead to the biggest increase in sales.
This is very simple and anyone, who 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. According to an infographic by MineWhat.com quoted in AdWeek, 81% of the shoppers conduct online research before buying, 60% begin by using a search engine to find the products they want, and 61% read product reviews before making any purchase.
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 tempted to buy.
My 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 afterward.
The new iPhone X YouTube review from The Verge has more than 4 million views.
This type of content is 10 times more valuable than paid pop-up ads.
7. Voice commerce is here to help
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.
I would advise you to keep your eyes open for updates on this eCommerce trend and try to become the first one to adopt it in your industry, product category, and country of operation. The first-movers always have an advantage over the others.
8. Security, especially GDPR
Consumers are becoming more worried about their data every day. Given the various accounts, users have on different websites and all personal information stored in them, anxiety levels are rising. Although eCommerce websites reassure clients that 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 limited to companies located within the European Union, but also to companies doing business with European citizens.
You as Online Retailer 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 are tons of online articles and 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.
Just as all other businesses, the eCommerce Industry 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 by online marketplace OnBuy.com shows that 53% of Millennials prefer buying from a physical store, instead of ordering online.
The main reasoning behind this is they want to see, touch and try the item, before purchasing it or get it faster. Of course, 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:
- Build a logistics cluster by partnering with local groceries stores in creating drop-off points.
- Use Virtual Assistants and Chatbots to create smooth communication channels and to enhance user experience.
- Use Augmented Reality to reduce the risk of consumers returning items, or worse, not even ordering them.
- Become crypto-friendly. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the hottest topics recently. Don’t miss the chance to win more users by enabling such features on your eCommerce platform.
- Track users’ online searches, which later convert into actual purchases to understand and predict consumer behavior.
- Invest in video content, produced by influencers, instead of annoying users with paid pop-up ads.
- 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.
- 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!