About 25% of the global population shops online. That means there are billions of people looking for the best online deals and products. In terms of growth patterns, it seems that this trend toward virtual commerce is likely to continue, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those in the e-commerce industry, this news bodes well in terms of future endeavors. But business owners and sole proprietors also need to be aware of the trends that are currently driving the industry if they plan on staying ahead of the curve.
We’ve researched all of the major growing trends in ecommerce to help you stay up-to-date and make the best possible decisions for your ecommerce business. No matter what types of services or products you provide, the following trends will help you grow your customer base and enjoy increased quarterly and annual profits.
In 2020, there are several trends to notice. The most crucial of these are:
- Multi-Device Compatibility
- A Focus on Media
- Sustainable Packaging
- Subscription Services
- Headless Commerce
- Machine Learning
- Voice Commands
- Engagement and Personalization
- Virtual Reality
- Mobile Customers
- Customer Service Chatbots
- Diverse Payment Options
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these e-commerce trends to discover what they are, how they function, and why they’re changing the industry in positive and long-lasting ways. Remember, one of the best ways to keep your business thriving is to invest in worthwhile marketing, design, and media trends.
The average American consumer is in a constant state of change and growth. Two decades ago, the typical US family owned one family computer, several television sets, and a stereo system. Today, however, it’s not uncommon to find family households with multiple televisions and a smorgasbord of personal electronic devices.
The modern home is brimming with personal computers, smart devices, and touchscreen tablets. Approximately 81% of Americans own smartphones, and about 21% use smartwatches or fitness trackers. Nearly half of all US children under the age of 8 own a tablet computer. As such, the need for multi-device compatibility has never been more pronounced.
E-commerce sites that don’t recognize this need may struggle to adapt and thrive in the current and future markets. There’s a growing push toward absolute compatibility, something that would allow clients and customers to shop on their phones, tablets, and smartwatches.
If your website isn’t capable of being viewed on a phone or accessed via voice commands, the time to change that is now. Technology is evolving and improving at an accelerated rate, and the current technological standards and conventions will likely be passé within the next decade. Consequently, keeping up with compatibility is pivotal to continued success and growth.
A Focus on Social Media
Social media can be both a blessing and a curse. However, social media influencers account for a massive proportion of consumer sales. While traditional celebrities may have endorsed products on television commercials or through radio in the past, the modern consumer prefers to receive their recommendations from individuals that seem more relatable.
But influencers and their sponsors aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of this trend. Any e-commerce business can experience a regular increase in viewership (and potentially sales) by regularly engaging their customer audience via social media.
You can create a professional business account for Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook to help promote your services and products. By regularly updating these accounts, as well as responding to comments professionally and positively, you can use this social media trend to your advantage.
Of course, it’s also important to familiarize yourself with current social media marketing tactics, strategies, and trends. After all, the “in” thing this week could very well be forgotten by the time next week arrives.
If you haven’t started building your social media presence yet, it might be worthwhile to hire an analyst or specialist to help you get set up for success. A social media marketing specialist will be able to explain the basics of maintaining business accounts across multiple social media platforms, and they can direct you to helpful resources to stay updated on current trends.
While “green products” with sustainable origins and recycle-friendly endings are nothing new, the rise of sustainable packaging is relatively new. Not only are customers looking for the most effective and affordable products, but they’re also searching for items that are environmentally conscious or responsible. This extends to packaging.
The greatest challenge facing e-commerce business owners in terms of sustainable products and packaging is cost. Goods made from recycled materials tend to cost slightly more than those made from new plastics or papers. However, the long-term benefits of sustainable products and packaging are evident.
Not only is this trend an excellent way for consumers to feel more comfortable and confident about their shopping, but business owners may find that adopting this trend now could help them grow their audience much more quickly.
Because climate issues don’t seem to be going away any time soon, businesses that take this time to become more environmentally sustainable and eco-friendly are likely to flourish for decades to come.
Being able to order a product as part of a subscription service can help save time and energy. Customers with families or hectic schedules may not have the patience to sit down and reorder their entire grocery list each week.
Subscription buying allows people to purchase their favorite products without even having to click a button or touch a screen. Automated services are becoming far more reliable, convenient, and desirable. An excellent example of a popular subscription service is Amazon Prime.
While Amazon once employed Dash buttons to help consumers reorder common household goods, they’ve now discontinued the tiny electronic objects in favor of a more sustainable and digital alternative—Prime subscriptions. This allows Amazon Prime members to subscribe to a monthly repurchase option.
Users can choose from thousands of Prime items, and many of the applicable goods are things like laundry detergent, toothpaste, and snacks. Online retailers looking to emulate the success of this service may want to offer shoppers the option to save money by subscribing to automatic monthly repurchases.
But click-and-subscribe options aren’t the only way that subscription services are changing the digital shopping game. Monthly subscription boxes have continued to see an increase in customer sign-ups, especially those focused on home goods or food.
As more people seek to work remotely from home and spend more time with family, the need for delivered subscription goods is only growing. You could utilize this information by incorporating a subscription service into your online business.
E-commerce platforms can be restrictive. Some offer limited design options or payment options, which restricts customer access and the owner’s creative control. Others charge business owners a commission fee, limiting profitability. Fortunately, headless commerce is changing all of that.
You can now design and create a website using any website builder, then direct customers to a separate API (or microservice) backend for purchases. Essentially, this allows you to maintain a fully-customized front-end across multiple platforms, freeing you from previous platform-induced limitations.
Also, headless commerce options allow you to integrate more customer-friendly features and applications, reaching a wider audience and keeping visitors engaged long enough to present your ideas, products, and services. This trend is growing quickly and shows no signs of stopping, so it may help to start adopting headless commerce options now.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning might seem scary to some, but it’s a fantastic tool for business owners and marketing specialists. That’s because AI applications gather immense amounts of data, compile it together, analyze it, and make predictions or guesses based on that data.
As an AI program learns more about a customer base, its predictions and recommendations become more accurate and attractive. So, if a customer visits your page searching for a new pair of jeans, an AI software can track which selections the customer views and how long they spent looking at each item.
Using this data, the AI can trigger a recommendation to the customer based on their previous searches. When a person spends hours shopping online, machine-learning software reaches new levels of accuracy in terms of personal recommendations. As such, attractive website design and immediate engagement policies work hand-in-hand with AI marketing programs.
When you compare this process to the more traditional customer research strategy, the differences become both evident and staggering. Advertising campaigns often require weeks or months of research and data collection. In most cases, a marketing specialist is hired to handle these advertising needs. This additional cost can be a challenge to manage for small businesses.
Traditional marketing practices can also involve a tedious and challenging process, especially when marketing agents employ questionnaires as part of their data-collection strategy. Many customers simply aren’t willing to answer surveys or answer marketing questions while shopping. In fact, employing such tactics may even be detrimental to sales.
Proprietors can cut costs and save time by investing in an AI-led marketing strategy. The information that machine-learning software gathers is invaluable, especially when hoping to target specific customer groups and learn more about niche shopping habits and preferences.
Hands-free shopping is quickly becoming as common as hands-free talking. Many Americans already own some type of smart device, such as a smartphone, a smartwatch, or even a smart thermostat. The majority of these devices come with voice-command features. Perhaps the most well-known of these devices are the Amazon Alexa devices.
Other companies, such as Google, have released their own smart devices with voice control. And now, several years after the release of these products, nearly every smartphone and tablet is designed to be used with voice commands. One of the most popular features of these devices is the ability to order goods and services with them.
While Alexa is most known for this feature, other non-Amazon devices may soon adopt their own voice-controlled shopping platforms. Based on current Alexa shopping trends, it seems that the modern shopper prefers to use voice commands to reorder goods than to sit down at a desk or scroll through a smartphone.
As such, e-commerce leaders are investing more time and energy into making their businesses more accessible via voice command. Integrating this type of technology into your business sooner rather than later can make noticeable differences in site visitors or product viewership.
Engagement and Personalization
Customers often enjoy the ability to communicate with business owners and proprietors. There’s also a significant amount of data to support the idea that customer personalization increases sales and overall revenue. But what exactly is customer engagement and personalization?
In terms of goods-based businesses, it means tailoring your online presence to the needs and viewpoints of multiple customers. This can be done simply, often via a welcome page quiz or diagnostic test. By asking a handful of questions, you can gauge each shopper’s needs and desires.
Not only will this allow you to quickly make automated product recommendations to shoppers, but it can also help you collect information concerning your audience’s general preferences. With this data, you can customize marketing campaigns to appeal to your target audience’s shopping trends.
Keeping users engaged also means investing time in social media accounts, subscription services, and chatbots.
While virtual reality (VR) is still most dominant in the gaming industry, it is starting to find uses outside of that market. Shoppers are beginning to use VR to try products and goods digitally. Paint samples, for example, can now be virtually rendered in nearly any space, allowing shoppers to view color options and pick their desired product without leaving their home or spending any money.
VR is also allowing customers to virtually try on clothing and makeup and even install digital furniture into an AR (altered reality) setting. As this technology continues to improve and adapt, it will likely grow to become a significant technological feature within the e-commerce industry.
While quite a few people have been stuck in their homes throughout 2020, that doesn’t mean that mobile accessibility and shopping has declined. If anything, potential customers are more “on-the-go” when it comes to shopping than they ever have been. Though international and domestic travel has seen a decrease over the last several months, shoppers are still quite busy.
As such, mobile compatibility and accessibility is key to growing a modern and successful business. Most website-building platforms do offer this option, which can minimize the stress of transforming your current site into a mobile-compatible one.
However, webpage design and access isn’t the only type of mobile compatibility owners should be investing in. Applications continue to be one of the primary methods of engagement for shoppers. Utilizing an app may help you reach a bigger audience than ever before.
Customer Service Chatbots
Chatbots have come a long way since the days of Olive Bot. More and more service-oriented businesses are incorporating chatbots into their websites to encourage customer engagement and interaction.
Potential shoppers who access your site after business hours may not be able to immediately speak with a customer service representative. However, chatbots allow shoppers the opportunity to ask questions and share concerns at any time of day.
When a customer feels confident about the products or services they’re viewing, they’re far more likely to make a purchase. Installing and customizing a chatbot service for your webpage may boost sales and help you engage with clients more readily and consistently.
Diverse Payment Options
Though we briefly touched on payment options, it’s vital to take a closer look at this growing trend. After all, allowing customers to pay for products via multiple means ensures that a greater number of shoppers can purchase your services or goods.
While online shoppers may have once been restricted to only using credit or debit cards to pay for their transactions, digital currencies and online banking platforms have become significant challengers to more traditional banking solutions. PayPal and Bitcoin are two excellent examples of payment options that modern shoppers tend to utilize.
While cryptocurrency is still somewhat divisive, online payment systems are far more accepted and accessible. As such, it’s essential to add at least one such payment option to your online business’s repertoire.
As you can see, the future of e-commerce is bright. Digital shopping has been increasingly more popular over the last several decades, but the need for greater personal safety has ushered in an e-commerce boom. By taking advantage of trends and emerging technologies, business owners can increase their sales and reach a massive online audience.