E-commerce is perhaps one of the most dynamic and versatile industries ever to exist. It has enhanced and expanded to such an extent that the survival of any business is undeniably at peril if it does not have an online presence. The industry is constantly transforming our lifestyles and buying behavior, adding more ease and convenience to it. Both fleeting fads and longer-lasting trends greatly influence the e-commerce industry.
Over the years, several trends have come to the fore, from an increase in the number of small businesses going online to the emergence of e-commerce marketplaces. Therefore, all e-commerce companies must remain abreast of the prevailing trends and patterns to stay relevant and competitive. Additionally, the role of technology cannot be stressed enough in e-commerce as continuous advancements highly impact the industry.
So, here we will highlight a few of the top trends that every online business should know about in 2021.
Innovation is the way forward.
Innovation is undoubtedly the only viable option for companies looking to leverage the e-commerce platform for market expansion. Since the e-commerce marketplace is riddled with competitors of all sizes, innovative market offerings will help set your brand apart. Many e-commerce market players focus on developing innovative offerings, customer experiences, and after-sales services to allure potential customers. It enables them to attain competitive advantages by highlighting their unique value propositions.
Therefore, focusing on this trend will prove worthwhile if you seek to establish a distinct brand identity in the e-commerce industry. Besides, you can leverage innovation in various ways. For example, you can provide unique product features, distinguishable after-sales services, or even introduce an immersive experience of your online store. The options are endless if you know how to exploit creativity and innovation to your advantage. For instance, wireless earbuds have been growing in popularity in the e-commerce marketplace. The ease of use and high performance they offer explains why people prefer such innovative products.
Innovation is and will remain to be one of the most crucial trends of the e-commerce industry.
Smart devices in the lead
The smartphone is undeniably one of the main drivers for your online sales and will likely remain so in the long run. With the number of smartphone users rising rapidly, the potential for customers using their smartphones for online shopping has also grown immensely. Although many customers still prefer making online purchases through desktops, we cannot overlook the rise in online purchases conducted from mobile phones. The prime reason for this is the convenience and ease of use.
Smartphones also ensure a hassle-free running of your e-store with the help of mobile integrated e-commerce platforms. Therefore, an online business should take advantage of this growing trend by making its websites and features mobile-friendly.
Voice search will grow.
Adding voice search options to your e-commerce platforms would serve as a smart move. With the popularity of the iPhone’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo, many consumers are more comfortable with speaking out their queries. According to Net Solutions, online shopping conducted through smart speakers and voice search would have a valuation of $40 billion by 2022.
Enabling this feature on e-commerce platforms will reduce time spent searching for a product and show results with less effort. Consequently enhancing the chances of a purchase.
Rising B2B focus
Many online businesses are still focusing on the business-to-customer (B2C) aspect and offering products online to end customers. However, several companies have identified the potential and benefited from the business-to-business (B2B) model in the e-commerce environment. According to DHL, the B2B e-commerce market will rise by 70% by 2027, reaching a figure of $20.9 trillion. Thus, businesses that have employed B2B e-commerce solutions are tapping into relatively more significant markets than B2C. It means more opportunities eliciting from an increased customer base and sales.
These solutions not only help make the operations more effective but also help in reducing costs. Alibaba is perhaps a perfect example of a B2B online marketplace that allows buyers and sellers to connect through its platform.
Augmented reality experience
A business might be catering to a single market segment with similar characteristics. However, despite having similarities, each customer is unique. The versatile nature of the e-commerce industry allows companies to provide a highly personalized experience to their customers. Augmented reality is a means through which businesses can browse products and preview them in their desired settings.
For instance, Ikea enables customers to view the furniture in their chosen environment together with the assistance of Apple’s ARKit technology. It allows them to enhance the overall user experience and attract more potential buyers. Today, many fashion brands use augmented reality to let consumers virtually try on apparel or accessories to see which items would suit them best.
Additional payment options feature
Several online businesses are already making use of multiple payments gateways. However, a growing trend indicates more advanced digital payments options like a digital wallet and the utilization of cryptocurrencies. For example, PayPal recently launched a ‘Checkout with Crypto’ feature that allows buyers to pay with cryptocurrency when making purchases online.
Additionally, many businesses are benefiting from the value chains built on databases for their monetary transactions. It would enable the companies to gather highly accurate payment data insights from the customers while making the process more secure. Another notable shift is towards contactless payments, particularly mobile app payments for online shopping.
The growing importance of ROPO
ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline) effect brings out thought-provoking insights gained from consumer behavior. Whether they purchase online or offline by visiting the outlet, most customers share a common habit. They research the products online before purchasing them. Specifically, ROPO translates into those consumers who research online but make a purchase in person.
The ROPO trend might seem like a challenge to online selling. However, combined with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it can prove beneficial. It aids in gathering information regarding customer’s product preferences, geographical location, and online payment behavior. The data can then be utilized to devise more accurate targeted advertising and marketing campaigns.
Social commerce will rule.
Undoubtedly, social media is a highly influential tool with a rapidly increasing role in e-commerce. Being the largest social media platform, Facebook alone had more than 2.8 billion active users a month in 2020. Almost three million businesses are actively advertising on this platform. There has been a steady rise in social commerce, which refers to purchasing products or services directly through social media, mainly through Facebook or Instagram.
Therefore, a successful online business must have a significant social media presence to capitalize on this opportunity. Besides, it is an excellent tool to advertise your products and interact with your customers, ultimately increasing brand loyalty.
E-commerce presents plenty of opportunities for a business to excel and grow. However, with new trends emerging every day, brands need to incorporate those that will remain relevant for a longer time, especially technological ones. These advancements provide a competitive edge while ensuring a company’s survival in the e-commerce marketplace.
As the industry by its very nature is in a constant state of change, only the highly proactive companies can maintain a considerable customer base.