We all saw how lockdown accelerated the changes that were occurring in e-commerce. Companies had to quickly adapt or risk going out of business. Consumer shopping habits changed with more people wanting to shop safely and avoid crowds by purchasing groceries online. People also turned to DIY to fill their time and bought more clothes online when their favourite shops were forced to shut their doors.
AI and machine learning
More companies are turning to AI to get a better understanding of their customers so that they can run more targeted campaigns. The data can also be used to track current trends and the information can be used to work out the best times to post on social media. It is becoming essential to use analytics to determine which content generated the most conversions because businesses can understand their customers like never before. They can also be integrated with CRM systems which is vital for monitoring email campaigns.
An increasing number of businesses who sell products are turning to augmented reality to help the customer visualise the product in their home or on their person. Adding this option assists the customer with the buying decision. For example you want to buy a new sofa but you're not sure it fits with your current colour scheme or that it might be too big for the space. Using AR you can answer these questions before deciding to purchase the item. ThreeKit states that 71% of consumers say they would shop more often if they used AR. It is an area that has been a little slow to pick up but I think more businesses will be looking to use it in the future as consumer buying behaviour continues to change.
By using AI to better understand their consumers, businesses can send them more personalised communications. Tailoring your approach to suit different types of customers makes them more likely to welcome communications from you. Sending them offers that relate to purchases they have already made is going to make them feel more appreciated than a standard coupon for something they have never purchased and have no interest in. However, be careful not to get too personalised. People can be put off after seeing an advert for something they had been talking to their friend about because it could feel like an invasion of privacy. The aim is to establish a relationship with the customer to encourage loyalty.
Consumers are increasingly turning to chatbots because they are convenient and available outside of office hours. Some people prefer not to speak directly to a salesperson so chatbots are one of their preferred methods. According to Business Insider "Globally, 48% of respondents said they preferred a chatbot that solved their issue over a chatbot that had a personality." The use of chatbots also allows companies to reduce the amount of time spent dealing with telephone calls and email enquiries.
More ways to pay
Giving customers more options when it comes to payment makes it easier for them. Having the option to pay in instalments encourages the customer to purchase sooner. Another aspect on the rise is the ability to save your payment details for next time ensuring a faster checkout. Furthermore, with options like purchasing from the product page instead of adding to a basket speeds up the process even more. As well as having a variety of payment options most businesses have more options when it comes to delivery. With the increasing need to have everything quickly and the desire to reduce carbon footprints customers can opt for click and collect or pick a longer timeslot.
Businesses can use headless commerce to separate the back-end from the front-end to allow for a quicker and more responsive online store. This has positive effects on SEO and content marketing potential.
Companies and customers are more tuned in to the harmful effects on the environment caused by consumerism. Another trend to look out for is Recommerce, consumers are buying second-hand products to improve their environmental impact. The first lockdown made it more clear to us the negative impact we are having on the Earth and has surely encouraged us to make more sustainable choices.
Shoppable social media and TV
Consumers want easier ways to shop and have welcomed the ability to shop whilst on social media and now being able to shop via an app whilst watching tv is opening up more possibilities.
Listing your products on an online marketplace could be a viable option because Shopify states that "half of all global ecommerce sales occur on marketplaces, where consumers search for solutions rather than brands". It is important to remember that you won't own the customer data, so the aim is to try and drive customers to your online shop where you can share exclusive offers with them.
This concludes my list of e-commerce trends in 2021. It appears the use of AI and AR are on the rise and continue to assist businesses in making their online shopping experience quicker and more responsive for their customers. Consumers are wanting a more personalised experience and are happy to chat to a bot if their issues are dealt with promptly. Furthermore, providing more ways to pay and making an effort to be more sustainable are key trends that are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
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