This year has been a unique year, and 2021 is another step into the unknown. The only thing we can say for certain is that the age of eCommerce has truly arrived as the pandemic has amplified the consumer’s increasing desire for convenience, immediacy, and simplicity.
Trend 1: COVID-19 Online Shopping Influence
E-Commerce, in the time of Covid 19, is at its highest point ever. The pandemic has accelerated the shift in demand from brick-and-mortar retail to online shopping and triggered changes in consumer behavior. For the first time, digital technologies offered an alternative channel for maintaining business activities, social interactions and consumption in times of strict preventive measures.
Lockdowns, social distancing, retail closures and travel restrictions made more people shop online in 2020 than any other year prior. Prime location or beautiful stores no longer matter for now. Probably, those who do a better job of making it easy for people to buy their products will be the ones that win out. This trend is not only a tailwind for digital brands, but also a headwind as the world of eCommerce becomes more crowded and competitive than ever.
Trend 2: Artificial Intelligence
Without a doubt, technology is running faster than any other industry, providing us with countless opportunities that we need to take advantage of. Artificial Intelligence – AI, is something that can’t fail to mention. This innovation is in just about every area of life — and the eCommerce industry is no exception. The question is, how will AI continue to influence eCommerce?
1. Voice Search and SEO
AI has taken over the search engine game, providing more flexibility with semantic recognition tools. This allows customers to find what they were looking for, even when they don’t make it clear. Therefore, SEO will likely see a shift.
With the inflow of virtual personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, our lives are increasingly digitized and streamlined. Instead of relying on manual typing, many customers use their virtual assistants to find answers for them. Indeed, voice recognition technology has come a long way, and more people are turning towards using their voices due to the convenience it offers.
This year has been an evolution of online purchasing. When your business is going back to the omnichannel strategy – eCommerce highlighted – you then have to start thinking about storing, warehousing, shipping, etc. This is where logistics come into play.
For certainty, AI is innovating the logistics industry as well. Companies that apply AI to their fulfillment process are observing quicker, cheaper shipping, operation cost reduction and increased customer satisfaction.
The world that we’re living in right now has forced brands to think through the entire consumer journey from start to finish.
3. Upselling and Cross-Selling Features
Upselling and cross-selling are huge money-making tactics. When we see a chance that a customer could spend even more, why not give them some incentives? Deciding what products to offer as an upsell or cross-sell does matter, which AI can take over automatically. It will look at the customers’ current purchases and make suggestions for add-ons based on what seems to make the most sense.
AI can answer common questions with an automated chatbot. With this advancement, eCommerce merchants can offer 24/7 customer support to visitors, quickly collect valuable data, track behavior, and reach seamless brand continuity without having to do any extra work.
Chances are, when customers were chatting with online merchants, they were actually talking to a bot programmed to help with any questions they may have. And honestly, it’s getting difficult to even tell the difference.
5. Inventory management
Similarly, AI’s predictive analytics are making big waves in the world of inventory management. It can be a nightmare with the constant pain of keeping inventory up to date, shelves stocked and keeping an accurate track of everything. To ensure your brand’s product data and inventory levels are accurate and updated in real-time, your platform should automatically synchronize product information like price, description, and images with SKU counts. Thanks to advances in AI, shop owners will be able to more accurately predict both real-time and future inventory needs for their business.
Trend 3: Automated Marketing
Automated marketing is a common trend that companies use to save time, money and push their businesses to the next level.
1. Personalized email marketing
Social media are changing every day. But email – that’s the one consistent that has not changed. We own our audience in that world. Email is still the most important channel for any business to have.
It is proven that emails with personalized subject lines are more likely to be opened than those without. Personalizing your email campaigns is an effective way to increase your open and click-through rates and can have a measurable impact on your ROI and revenue. These results stem from the fact that personalized emails are more relevant to subscribers. Instead of receiving a campaign with generic offers and messaging, your subscribers will receive an email that is targeted directly at them, includes their name, and provides offers (products, promotions, etc…) that are relevant to their interests.
2. Segment customers for optimized conversion
Your target customers are different individuals with different needs and preferences. So when it comes to marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that’s going to work. Dividing a broad market into smaller ones as per the interest and demographics can make it easier to reach a specific audience.
3. Auto-scheduling blogs, posts, banners & ads
Since social media is a two-way interactive platform, plan your social media content calendar ahead of time and schedule outposts to align with the most digitally active time periods of the day without causing any interruptions in your work.
Key to takeaway
ECommerce will definitely continue growing. COVID-19 pandemic limits offline sales much more and eCommerce expansion is expected to move even faster.