6 E-Commerce Trends We’re Watching
You live in a cabin in Vancouver, your customer lives in a flat in London, and your warehouse is in Atlanta. Somehow it all works in the dizzying world of ecommerce.
Well, it works until it doesn’t. Consumers in the U.S. spent $870 million in 2021 on ecommerce, a jump of 50% from 2019 levels. Obviously a little thing called Covid drove that surge, but the lesson here is pretty simple. Ecommerce is the lifeblood of many businesses, and that all-important space is very crowded and can be merciless in its march forward. What worked today might not be operative tomorrow.
So when it comes to ecommerce, you’d better keep your nose in the air and be alert for the latest trends, consumer preferences, tech upgrades, and business challenges. Failure to keep up can lead to adversity, i.e. a hit to your bottom line.
The real world is a quaint place, but when it comes to ecommerce, reality needs to be augmented. One trend that consumers seem to relish is Augmented Reality (AR), in which shoppers can play around with images of a product in interactive ways.
Let’s say you’re shopping for a sofa. Plenty of websites will feature pictures of the item from multiple points of view, but the real question is how would it look in your actual living room. AR allows you to use your phone’s camera to run that simulation, and this kind of hands-on AR experience alone accounts for at least 3% of all ecommerce sales, according to one study. Making a sale is about imparting a vision, and AR fits in perfectly to that aspect of ecommerce (not so much in the brick-and-mortar setting).
If you have a WordPress-powered website, then check out these plugins: AR for WordPress and AR for WooCommerce. You don’t have to be at the enterprise level to provide your customers with this feature.
Their Wish Is Your Command
Telling people what to do, nothing inflates your head bigger…except perhaps bossing your virtual assistant around. And judging from user data, people really like ordering Alexa and Siri to buy stuff on their behalf. In fact, according to a recent study put out by Juniper Research, transactions carried out by voice assistants will grow by 320% in 2023, reaching $19.4 billion, compared to $4.6 billion in 2021.
The smart money says that if you rely on ecommerce for revenue (and who doesn’t?), then you’re going to have to leverage voice-search optimization. But as of now, there are some hurdles in the way, namely that screens don’t exist on certain devices (like Alexa) and Apple, Amazon, and Google need to open their platforms to third-party sellers.
But if some Stan in St. Paul starts screaming “Buy me a widget!” at his smart speaker, you want to be positioned to make that happen.
Pay Your Way
Here’s another growing trend that should garner your attention. If consumers don’t get to buy stuff with their preferred method of payment, they’ll jump ship and find the vendor who will accommodate them. They’ll leave that full cart or bag just sitting there, abandoned–now about 8% of shoppers are already doing this, but expect that share to grow.
You don’t have to provide every conceivable method of payment under the sun, but you do need to have options to a traditional credit card or check. Venmo and Apple Pay are popular with Gen Z, and PayPal has been around since 1988. There are moves you can make to stay ahead of the curve.
Lose Your Head
Even though this sounds like the latest TikTok challenge, one emerging trend in ecommerce is going “headless.” That is, the on-line store that is created in the backend isn’t coupled with a specific front-end presentation. In WordPress, the front-end is linked to the bank-end via the REST API, but an API can link your bank-end to a host of different platforms.
The upside is that you can now sell your products on a plethora of different devices or frameworks, which allows you to enlarge your multichannel profile. You aren’t tied down to just your own website. If you are proficient at coding in Python, for example, this won’t be a hard transition to execute. If you don’t really program much, going headless will necessitate working with a web designer to ensure a smooth rollout.
Social Media to Sell
Until recently, the relationship between ecommerce and social media was based on the traditional print media ad-campaign model. Social media was a marketing tool used for promotion to drive users to a website where the transaction would take place.
No more is this the case. Analysts predict that the “social commerce market” will grow three times as fast as the current ecommerce framework in the coming years. Industries like publishing have been transformed by TikTok, which just recently opened up TikTok Shopping. Instagram and Facebook have established portals for users to make direct purchases.
Posting something cute about your product won’t cut it anymore. You need to get Likes, but today you can also drive sales.
Read the Room
It’s been well-noted that Gen Z and Millennials spend money as a way to make broader statements about what they value. Since that cohort will dominate market-share in the coming decades, any business that wants to cultivate a truly lasting CRM protocol needs to understand how to reach them.
But you can’t just greenwash and pay lip service to issues like sustainability unless your business is committed in a meaningful way. Gen Z will roast you for being fake. That’s why “Mom-and-Pop” businesses are booming in the “direct to consumer” (D2C) space, because they can establish real bonds with consumers who share similar worldviews.
You don’t need a chia pet to stay current. E-commerce is evolving and staying in touch with change can only benefit you. Just keep sniffing out opportunities to grow.