Ecommerce has changed the world as we know it. It empowered anyone with an Internet access to become a brand and start selling online. It has made many businesses rich and allowed many local brands to sell globally.
Ecommerce is also one of the fastest changing industries out there.
Ecommerce is being defined and refined by fast-evolving technology. In fact, it's changing so quickly that it's starting to feel like a sci-fi movie.
These days we have smart assistants searching and buying on consumer's behalf, smart applications predicting your competitive edge, intelligent customer support bots influencing consumers' shopping decisions...
Have you been trying to keep up with all the changes and innovations technology is bringing?
What ecommerce industry trends should you be watching out for?
Here are some of the most influential ecommerce industry trends that you should watch out for in the coming years.
1. Social Commerce
Most people today have social media accounts and that is where they spend most of their time. Ecommerce companies have seen this as an opportunity to promote and sell their products. This trend in the industry, also sometimes referred to as social commerce, is gaining pace and slowly evolving into a mainstream online shopping platform.
Both Gen Z and Millennials spend most on products they come across on social media channels, especially Snapchat and Instagram. Source: Bigcommerce omni-channel marketing report
Allowing people to buy products on social media pages helps businesses reach out to more people and boost sales. It also gives better access to customer data which can be used for personalized marketing later.
Here are a few ways you can embrace social commerce in your business:
- Use Facebook "Shop: buttons which are said to produce a 5 to 10% increase in revenue.
- Use product showcases on Facebook to promote seasonal offers and products
- Embrace shoppable stories on Instagram and Snapchat allowing your customers to buy from you right from your stories
2. Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence has been revolutionizing most industries and ecommerce isn't far behind. Artificial Intelligence, in the ecommerce industry, is mostly being used for predictive analysis and customer service.
Through predictive analysis, you can predict a customer's actions and send out automated suggestions using AI. AI is increasingly being used to respond to customer queries, send out personalized emails and suggest relevant products.
According to Gartner's report, 1/4 of all customer service operations will "integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020"
Allowing a smart AI-powered chatbot help your customers right when they need it is easier than many people think. There are already a few powerful platforms allowing businesses to create smart chatbots using easy visual dashboards, with no programming knowledge required. These include Mobile Monkey and Botsociety:
On the other hand, machine learning has already changed the sales and conversion optimization process. For example, Salesforce's self-learning algorithm delivers "predictions and recommendations based on your unique business processes and customer data."
Machine learning makes it possible to take all the scattered data from various devices and channels together to create individual customer profiles, discover patterns, and set up advanced personalized experiences.
Make sure to find a personalization technology partner that is best for your brand. Luckily, we have quite a few powerful players in this sector already, including Hubspot and Moengage.
3. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Technology
Augmented Reality (AR) and virtual reality technologies are also making their way into the ecommerce industry. AR is already being used by many companies to give their customers an idea of what a piece of furniture would look like inside their living space, or how a pair of glasses would look on their face.
Here are a couple of examples of AR-driven ecommerce:
- IKEA Place offering you to virtually "place" IKEA products in your room.
- Sephora's "Virtual Artist" letting you virtually overlay your makeup choices on your face and to buy the look you liked.
Virtual Reality (VR) is also picking up and will soon be a way of giving customers an immersive buying experience.
While virtual reality is all about simulating experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world, Augmented Reality enhances the real world.
Both trends become an effective tool for ecommerce marketing by allowing buyers to test the product in the real-world context before buying it.
4. Voice and Visual Search
The way people search for products online is now changing. They have moved on from typing in queries to visual and voice search. They can now search for a product by clicking on a picture of it with a visual search tool, or ask a smart speaker to look for a product online.
To keep up with fast-growing mobile and voice search, Google's search algorithm is changing rapidly. These changes present even more challenges to ecommerce businesses trying to maintain their organic search presence.
Ecommerce companies have to optimize their websites to stay up-to-date, because this trend is here to stay:
- Create a dynamic (adaptive / responsive) website
- Use high-quality and search-optimized photos on each product page
- Make use of Google's structured data including Speakable
- Get your local listing in order, i.e. keep it clean and updated as most voice search users search for local-based queries.
- Optimize for plenty of well researched, flowing long-tail keywords and phrases in your content. This includes researching niche questions on forums, tracking keyword context in real-time on Twitter, taking notes from phone calls with customers, etc
The web is getting faster and engaging the customer is becoming more challenging. The solution is building a cross-platform presence and using aggregated data from all the channels for advanced analysis capabilities.
Luckily, ecommerce businesses have a wide variety of advanced applications and marketing services to work with. You can find reliable partners to enhance your content development process, lead nurturing strategy, and conversion optimization tactics.
To stay competitive, every ecommerce business should keep on top of key technologies and innovations that will drive change in the marketing industry.