Over the past few years, the ECommerce industry has boomed across all categories of consumer brands. Widespread adoption of mobile apps has further accelerated the boom. This evolution has forever changed the face of the retail industry, as has the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic brought with it social distancing laws and lockdowns that forced consumers to stay at home and shop for necessities and luxuries online.
With so many more new advances and technologies gracing the industry today, ECommerce is continuing to undergo dramatic transformations. Italian consultancy Finaria and Forbes have predicted that global ECommerce retail sales will reach a value of over $2.7 trillion in 2021, and may reach $3.4 trillion by 2025.
Here are some of the predicted ECommerce strategies and development techniques of the future that businesses will use to supercharge their sales in 2021 and beyond.
Exploring ECommerce Strategies of the Future
Social Media Advertising
Social media marketing is already a must-have marketing strategy for ECommerce businesses across all industries. According to a recent benchmark report published by MarketingSherpa, 43% of businesses with online stores report enjoying significant web traffic from their social media sites.
Businesses that have well defined paid social strategies are already well on their way to improving their brands’ awareness. However, integrating shoppable ad features into the mix on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat will take these strategies to a whole new level. Paid media ads can convince target audiences to take action and click through to product landing pages as soon as they see a product they like, improving conversion rates significantly.
The concept of pay-to-play has also taken its spot in the limelight. This is thanks to the increase in paid media opportunities available for businesses that use social media marketing. In the future, more businesses than ever before will turn to sponsored posts to target their audiences and retain an edge over their competitors.
Rise in Mobile Commerce
Mobile shopping has risen astronomically over the past few years. Customers across the world use their tablets and smartphones to purchase products and services, and this trend is only expected to grow over time. Online retailers are expected to adopt a mobile-first approach to optimizing their websites and ECommerce platforms to provide a positive mobile shopping experience to their consumers.
The number of mobile device users globally reached 7.26 billion in 2020, and will continue to grow as the technology becomes more advanced. Furthermore, mobile is expected to dominate ECommerce sales with a more than 50% share by 2022. This is facilitated in part by the convenience of shopping on the go and paying using secure and instant digital payment systems.
B2B Will Continue to Outstrip B2C ECommerce
B2B ECommerce is currently driving the global economy more than any other means of online transaction. A recent study by Forrester notes that US business-to-business ECommerce retailers will collectively be earning over $1.8 trillion by 2023.
B2B sales minimize the hassles of using manual processes. It also allows businesses to distribute products and services from one organization to another through online channels. ECommerce businesses that are battling to remain competitive in the current B2C industry may thus turn towards offering B2B products and services instead of stabilizing their revenues and keeping operational costs low.
Omnichannel Retail and Unified Sales Approaches
Omnichannel retail is a modern, ECommerce-based sales approach that offers customers a seamless and unified retail experience. Omnichannel ECommerce businesses promote and sell their offerings across multiple channels. Including their own official websites, digital marketplaces, and offline channels as well.
This approach blurs the lines between physical and online channels. It will continue to do so as ECommerce grows in both popularity and demand among future consumers. Marketing and selling across multiple channels will give businesses of all sizes more opportunities to offer leads information about their visions, products, and services. Plus, it may increase brand recognition and sales opportunities.
The omnichannel approach allows customers to visit multiple channels through their purchase processes, starting on one channel and completing the purchase on another. The businesses that succeed in providing omnichannel retail in the future will be those that provide their customers with a consistently high quality experience across all of their sales channels—online or offline.
Voice Shopping Will Step Into the Spotlight
Voice shopping is rapidly becoming the preferred way to shop online for younger generations of consumers. Research shows that more than half of all web searches are expected to be voice-driven by 2022. The US voice search commerce industry is expected to hit $40 billion by the same year. Major retailers like Amazon, Walmart and Alibaba have been some of the first to introduce voice shopping capabilities to their platforms.
Interestingly, more than 30% of American internet users have used a voice assistant to purchase products or learn more about them. Voice shopping has the power to streamline the purchase process, enabling users to search, compare and buy products using simple verbal descriptions and commands. In the future, this instant purchasing power will become more widespread as more of the world’s population gains access to voice-recognizing devices.
Increasing AI Presence
ECommerce businesses are expected to use artificial intelligence to take their offerings to a whole new level in the near future. Stores that integrate AI into their platforms are better equipped to analyze customer and retail data, track buyer behavior, and use these insights to develop highly effective marketing campaigns and sales funnels.
AI also makes the purchase process easier for consumers, who can conduct visual searches, enjoy personalized recommendations, and use voice assistants to make purchases with ease. These AI-powered tools all make the ECommerce experience more enjoyable and more streamlined. This is why online businesses are expected to spend more than $7.3 billion on AI technologies in 2022.
A recent Business Insider study has noted that chatbots managed more than 85% of interactions between customers and brands in 2020. Thousands of ECommerce businesses have already harnessed the power of AI to generate more leads, develop a clear brand voice, improve their customer care processes, and offer a smooth user experience.
In the future, AI will facilitate 24/7 customer service, rapid smart searches for products and information, hyper-personalized product recommendations, and better inventory management for ECommerce businesses.
Augmented Reality Purchase Visualization
One of the historical downfalls of shopping online was the fact that consumers could not always see the products they wanted in detail. This led to high rates of ECommerce returns and reduced customer satisfaction. In the future, virtual and augmented reality could solve this issue.
AR and VR may offer consumers ‘virtual tours’ of how products actually look in the real world. The augmented reality aspect may also offer them more details about a product to ensure that it will adequately meet their needs.
A great example of this technology in action is provided by the US cosmetic brand Sephora. The brand’s Virtual Artist feature enables customers to ‘try on’ different makeup shades and create customized looks before they make their purchases. This makes for a highly personalized and interactive shopping experience. It also boosts shoppers’ confidence and helps to ensure that they know exactly what they are purchasing before they place their orders.
This technology will also help to streamline financial processes for e-tailers, and make payments and invoicing easier in the long run. Having to constantly reconcile returns and refunds is time-consuming and potentially costly.
The ECommerce industry is a highly competitive one, and it’s expected to become even more competitive as technology and time progress. ECommerce businesses need to keep up with the latest online retail movements and trends. It’s imperative that they update their strategies and development techniques according to the needs and desires of their target markets.
In the future, ECommerce businesses will need to focus on improving the user experience they offer in any way they can to remain afloat. The success of their enterprises will rely on how easily customers can access and use their ECommerce platforms, especially using smartphones, tablets, and futuristic technologies like voice recognition devices.