I could start this article by offering many examples of how the world, and technology, has evolved from the beginning of times. But I am certain that at this point of your business development you are already convinced that the world we live in is constantly evolving and so is technology, if not faster.
It should come as no surprise that in the next 5 or 10 years we will experience a great deal of changes in technology and on the way we do businesses.
Many companies are resistant to changes, especially when they foresee a possible impact on the revenue or client’s relation and retention. However, it is when a company is truly innovative and ground breaking that a great business case is built. And you can be both once you are able to adapt your business to changes and be on the forefront of trends and new consumer needs.
In technology, changes are normally a result of customer demand and market innovation. So, those who aren’t able to fit in will eventually lose a slice of the pie. May it be due to not living up to their customer’s expectations or to falling behind their competitors.
In this article we will explore 7 ecommerce trends that you should be paying attention to in the next 5 to 10 years, and maybe even plan ahead while drawing your business canvas.
So, shall we begin?
Many experts foresee an easier shopping experience for customers, where they don’t get stuck on making decisions, and those decisions are facilitated to them by the merchant. Dimira Teveva, Marketer at Metrillo, wrote to Smile blog that customers are tired of making choices every time they need to shop.
Larry Brangwyn, Head of UX Design at Addressy, adds that “the biggest trends in ecommerce this year will center around reducing user effort and improving the online customer experience”.
According to Brangwyn, there are too many choices, too much thought required and lack of clarity, and “any tools that can reduce online friction and simplify the user’s input are going to be huge”.
He finishes by saying that “the less users have to think about your interface or design, the more they can focus on accomplishing their goal on your website”.
Experts mention the important rise that subscriptions and monthly payments had in 2017 and how it will continue to increase over the next few years.
Users are looking for merchant to curate products for them and once again facilitate their choice making process. According to Ecommerce Guide website, “product curation and pay monthly models are likely to continue to form an increasing part of the future of ecommerce.”
Dimira Teneva, ecommerce expert, also says that “ecommerce has conditioned customers to expect immediacy and convenience with every purchase interaction. This means that people will increasingly jump on subscriptions and replenishment plans for consumables instead of repeat ordering them every month.”
Increase social engagement
Not only social media has been playing an unquestionably important role on advertisement and brand building, is also an important tool to bring customers closer to your brand and to improve customer service.
“For shoppers, real-time engagement will become a norm, so merchants should make customers and social followers a participant in, not the target of, communications", said Krista Fabregas, e-commerce B2B and B2C business founder, to the Smile blog.
"Don’t just create and deliver content, try answering customer questions and concerns via socially engaging media like Facebook Live, forum threads, blog posts or videos that can be shared”, Fabregas goes on.
Doz website also bets in social media communication over advertisement: "today, people want open communication; they trust opinion leaders and want to know what ideas are staying behind each brand. And that’s why social media is a new main tool and a key driver of e-commerce".
Because of this, communication between brands and customers is expected to get closer and less formal, so brands already acting like that are in the winning situation.
Focus on company culture and values
“Shoppers are becoming more aware that they can have their needs fulfilled by multiple brands, and some at even better value and cost. This means merchants cannot rely on traditional sales & marketing approaches but instead will need to start creating key performance indicators around culture, engagement and values centered around their product in order to have a competitive advantage – especially for where millennials are concerned”, says Marketing Manager at E. Fundamental, Anam Khawar for Smile blog.
Digital List Mag also adds the importance of transparency, as millennials have grown with transparency and information available all the time and only a finger touch away, and brands should design their businesses accordingly.
“Transparency and authenticity are essential for gaining traction with millennials. It’s not just about what you sell anymore. It’s about how you promote it” and it is your social media presence that will reinforce your business’ values.
Create relevant content
By now we have already gone through the importance in boosting your social media engagement and promoting your business values and culture, which makes creating relevant content an inevitable part of your ecommerce business development.
According to Web Pro News website, “strategies focused on the millennial demographic, and using conventional marketing tactics won't work here. It's vital that you engage with them honestly and realistically. This means providing content with the same behavioral, emotional, and psychological benefits that turned them to social media.”
And in engaging with your customer lies the importance of taking advantage of moments of opportunity in the buyer’s journey to deliver the best possible content for the buyer’s need, according to Kyle Olson, Senior Content Manager at Digital Third Coast.
“The customer journey is fragmented and chaotic so it’s becoming increasingly important for brands to be front and center when people are willing to engage”.
Make it personal
One of the many advantages of the increasing consumer sales data is being able to personalize your communication to specific buyers, as consumers are regularly offering up more personal information, and it ends up enhancing the ecommerce and retail experience.
Ecommerce Guide adds that personalization along with better customer experience will be the holy grail for ecommerce businesses in the future.
“Customers will eventually flock to those offering as close to the in-store experience as possible, and major ecommerce retailers are already striving to make things more personal and more tangible on web”, they add.
This includes personalizing the messages you send to your customer at every point of interaction they have with your brand.
“Similar to people preferring brands to be more open and act more human, messaging is becoming an important e-commerce tool. A merchant can send texts about sales, special offers or some personal sets of items based on their preferences and previous purchases. It also can be a message conversation with a consultant on a website”, according to Doz website.
Amanda Wilson, VP of Global Marketing at MobileBridge also discuss the importance of personalization in your ecommerce business.
“Consumers are flooded with information, so the need to make messages relevant and contextual is no longer nice to have – it’s is a must to cut through the noise consumers receive each day. These messages not only need to be contextual and personalized, but delivered in channels that best connect with consumers – their mobile devices”, says Wilson.
Make use of virtual and augmented reality
Virtual reality and augmented reality applications will make a huge impact as commerce continues to move in this direction.
Serial entrepreneur Ted Murphy says that early players are trying to understand the landscape, and early experiments will provide invaluable information about what works and what doesn’t.
He believes that "these experimentations will ultimately lead to more product integration in video content on major platforms like YouTube, giving customers the ability to click and buy what they see onscreen to propel the digital shopping experience forward.”
According to Doz website, we can no longer say that augmented reality and virtual reality are science fiction as they are becoming our commonplace reality.
“With the help of a wearable device like Google Glass, most merchants will soon have a chance to link the real world and virtual reality in comprehensive augmented devices and technologies, which promises a new exciting shopping experience."
YMulti Channel Merchant looks at the benefits of augmented reality from a product testing perspective, excluding the need to go to a fashion store to try a pair of pants, once you are able to add your body measurements online and try those pants virtually.
“Augmented reality is already useful for buying products related to interior decorating or landscaping, giving us the ability to visualize how a product would actually look when placed in a room, or outside your home. As we look even further beyond 2020, there is a chance augmented reality will give way to virtual reality shopping, letting us test electronic equipment, vehicles, and more.”
Blue Acorn goes one step beyond and believes that by 2027 augmented and virtual reality will have entirely changed the civilization although right now it is “only just scratching the surface of possibilities”.
“What happens when we begin to have the technology to actually touch and interact with these virtual items? It’ll be an entirely new marketplace for ecommerce”.
Speed up your delivery time
Tabitha Jean Naylor, the founder of Startup 101, says that consumers are no longer patient to receive their goods at home, and next-day shipment isn’t that big of a deal anymore.
“Overnight delivery is sometimes not enough to satisfy them, so one, two and three-hour windows of delivery are going to become more commonplace", Naylor says.
Consumers will demand this service as a way of distinguishing between buying from one company or another, putting more pressure on companies to offer these same-day deliveries just to keep up with their competitors.
Ecommerce Guide insists on the drone-delivery method for quicker delivery period:
“Drones will in the future allow companies to deliver packages much more efficiently and quickly, with delivery times of just 60 or even 30 minutes from order entirely plausible."
Drones will be sent out from distribution centers and travel directly to the delivery addresses provided, at significantly lower cost and logistical hassle than at present.
Although some experts believe that delivery drones and automated package delivery are not in the five-year plan for America, it is already a reality in China as JD.com is currently delivering goods by drone.