Nowadays, technology moves and rules the world. As it advances, businesses need to adapt properly to remain competitive in a cutthroat environment. This requirement is especially true in eCommerce, as emerging trends and technologies significantly influence buying behaviors and decisions.
Moreover, the industry is growing quickly and steadily. By the end of 2021, Statistia.com records that the worldwide eCommerce market had reached $5.9 trillion in sales. Furthermore, experts expect that by 2025, retail eCommerce sales will hit $7.4 trillion, signaling the industry’s massive growth worldwide.
While growth is inherently positive, it can also mean increased competition. Make a few scrolls along social media platforms, and you’ll notice how more businesses create pages and accounts.
Hence, it can be challenging to establish a strong brand that will stand out among all the digital noise. Additionally, as innovative tech such as the Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) become popular, customer needs and buying patterns also evolve.
Whether you have been in eCommerce for a while or just starting, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the top tech developments that can influence the industry’s future and drive your company’s growth.
What are the modern technological advancements influencing eCommerce?
Customers now wield increased market power because they have a plethora of choices. Thus, it’s not solely the quality of your product that enables you to stay ahead of the competition. It’s more important to build and provide a customer-centric purchasing experience. Everything from an easy-to-follow order method and a more comprehensive range of payment options can improve your customers’ overall experience.
However, customer service is intangible and time-consuming, so it’s helpful to utilize online eCommerce tools and applications.
Today, almost every well-known business uses at least an eCommerce store, shopping app, marketplace, or perhaps even all of these platforms. Every attempt aims to increase online client acquisition.
Here are the current eCommerce trends and innovations that are worth looking at.
Social Media Commerce
As the name implies, social commerce uses social networking sites for online buying transactions. Social media is now part of our daily lives, and its presence fundamentally alters the buyer-seller landscape. Brands build and maintain customer relationships through popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
In addition, social media now incorporates more complex, technical aspects aimed at shortening the buying cycle. Most social networks are likely to incorporate the one-click “buy” button in the future, alongside other shopping features.
The convergence of eCommerce and social networks has resulted in the evolution of peer-to-peer marketplaces, including the most prominent examples of Facebook and Instagram. In fact, Fashion Discounts reports that these platforms also hold immense influence, with 87% of online shoppers using social media to decide what to buy.
Mobile commerce, also called m-commerce, uses applications on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones to facilitate shopping transactions. Nowadays, the population of customers using smartphones accounts for half of all internet traffic, implying that eCommerce stores must adapt to smartphone screens and, in some cases, develop their smart apps to reach more buyers.
However, simply building a webpage or smartphone app doesn’t guarantee huge success. Providing the fastest and most convenient online purchasing experience is critical. Customer retention and engagement are important metrics to monitor.
Because mobile users are picky, even the slightest flaw can push them to switch to a competitor. Thus, enhancing functionality should be a top priority.
Also, since users provide private information like banking details and shipping addresses and link their accounts to debit and credit cards, it’s a must to develop effective application security strategies to protect customer data and prevent cybercrimes.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One of the components of brick-and-mortar shops that is absent in eCommerce is the assistance of an in-store salesperson who is educated about the products and can provide specific suggestions.
Thankfully, technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence help bridge the gap, allowing merchants to find new ways to increase customer satisfaction. AI helps businesses understand the needs of their buyers and provide them with a more personalized experience.
However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. AI technology also enables online businesses to:
- Develop relevant customer profiles and use them to improve marketing strategies
- Enhance the purchasing experience by combining customer data with real-time analytics
- Automate customer service tasks using chatbots that assist customers 24/7
- Make timely promotions
- Optimize discounts and sales
- Improve forecast accuracy to make better decisions on digital ad spending
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality is poised to revolutionize the field of eCommerce. It will allow online buyers to visualize products they wish to purchase, like furniture or apparel, without needing to see or try them out in person. Through AR, customers can see how they will look wearing a specific outfit or how a piece of furniture will fit into their home. Having access to AR technology saves customers a trip to a physical store.
As a result, customers can be more confident in making online purchases, while retailers can benefit from lower return rates. Naturally, AR elevates the entire purchasing experience by allowing customers to interact with the product quickly and conveniently.
Recent market trends point to the likelihood of consumers ordering online more often if they could virtually test a product before purchasing it. Some would be less likely to visit a physical store if AR was offered on their preferred eCommerce platform.
In the future, you will likely see more companies utilizing AR to promote their products. Augmented reality will be the norm in social networking and eCommerce platforms.
Chatbots that can provide customer care 24/7 are arguably the best use of AI. Chatbots enable retailers to engage with thousands of customers while delivering personalized shopping experiences and relevant advice. Not to mention, it’s cheaper to incorporate chatbots in eCommerce platforms than to hire customer service representatives.
According to a study by Kinsta, over 60% of consumers prefer to use chatbots, websites, or apps to address their inquiries. This preference suggests that human intermediaries are no longer indispensable in customer service.
Chatbots could become among the most essential marketing tools in the arsenal of an online merchant. Today, retailers primarily use them to answer frequently asked questions and guide shoppers through simple processes.
As such, self-checkout will likely become the norm in retail. Chatbots can also be personal shopping attendants readily available when customers need assistance. Furthermore, chatbots use the data they obtain to forecast new products or services that may interest shoppers.
More and more households now own a smart speaker. Customers are actively counting on voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, or Google Assistant to conduct a wide range of tasks, from monitoring the weather to purchasing things online.
For example, if a household notices they’re out of milk, they may instantly buy it with a single voice command via their preferred online grocery store’s conversational interface. This functionality eliminates the need for the user to perform several steps—open their laptop, navigate their browser, input the store’s name, enter shipping information, and order the item—for a single shopping activity.
Furthermore, customers can easily repeat their orders because the voice assistant remembers previous purchases. Customers will also be able to order takeaway food without having to touch anything on a screen. As more families become accustomed to this technology, consumers will feel more at ease with making transactions.
This scenario offers so much potential for eCommerce enterprises. In an industry that highly values convenience and efficiency, voice-enabled eCommerce systems will undoubtedly be one of the key technological trends of the future.
eCommerce is one of the industries benefiting from the innovative use of blockchain technology. With the management of traditional databases, human error is inevitable. Delayed transactions, higher costs, widescale restrictions, and ownership of digital information are all common problems.
But because a blockchain network is a distributed and immutable ledger of all purchase transactions, it can keep accurate records of online payments. It also increases security, lessens the likelihood of data breaches, and introduces a new payment option using cryptocurrency.
Using digital assets in transactions also eliminates the requirement for a third party. Moreover, these transactions are speedier and reduce the fees for both buyers and sellers.
Plus, data entered onto a blockchain stays there permanently. This technology design means that regardless of how many times a product is sold or repurchased, the entire transaction is always preserved. Blockchain can go a long way toward reducing fraud risks and increasing accountability.
Key Points to Remember
With each year comes new eCommerce trends and technologies for the online shopping industry. To stay ahead, online retailers must use innovative solutions to attract more customers and deliver a distinct, customized shopping experience for every buyer. Being popular on social media and tapping into the mobile commerce market can also help online merchants explore additional revenue sources.
Accordingly, the success of virtual reality, AI bots, voice assistants, and crypto payments in driving growth for online stores demonstrates that continually improving the functionality and efficiency of purchasing processes will always be worthwhile.
Lastly, with technology constantly progressing, more innovations in eCommerce will undoubtedly emerge soon.