E-commerce is evolving by leaps and bounds today. By the end of 2019, the global e-commerce market registered sales reaching $3.5 trillion. This represented 14% of the total share of global retail sales! Experts also predict that by the end of 2020, the global e-commerce sales will reach a smashing $4.2 trillion, making up for 16% of total retail sales around the world.
But what does it mean for store owners?
The competition online has certainly been growing fast. Advertising rates are getting higher, and it's hard to build a solid brand to stand out among the digital noise. Moreover, consumer shopping habits are changing together with the emergence of brand-new technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) or Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR).
That's why keeping up with the latest trends in e-commerce is so critical to surviving in the retail landscape.
To make it easier for you, we compiled a list of the most important tech solutions e-commerce retailers will be using this year and in the near future to capture new customer segments and secure their growth.
8 Trending Tech Solutions in E-commerce
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Hyper-personalized experience
- Ambient commerce
- Online to offline (O2O)
- Mobile shopping
- Conversational e-commerce
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
One of the aspects that have been lost in online shopping and that makes brick-and-mortar shopping so pleasant is help from an in-store assistant who’s knowledgeable in the offer and can provide relevant recommendations and personalized guidance.
The rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning will only solidify on the market, allowing retailers to find new ways to boost personalization and improve customer service.
AI can take the form of a helpful virtual assistant that directs customers to the right product offers by asking them a few questions about their needs and preferences.
But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Artificial Intelligence can also help companies to:
- learn more about their customers and deliver a personalized experience to them,
- connect customer data with real-time insights to boost the shopping experience,
- automate processes such as customer support thanks to chatbots that help customers 24/7,
- generate timely promotions,
- optimize pricing and discounting,
- boost demand forecasting to make smarter choices for their digital ad spending.
Consumers like brands that care about them. AI helps to achieve that by connecting different data points into an intelligible whole, creating customer profiles that include meaningful insight retailers can use to craft personalized experiences.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented Reality is set to become a key game-changer in online shopping. It will help online shoppers to visualize products they would like to buy, whether it's furniture or clothing. Consumers using AR can see how they would look wearing a certain item or how a sofa would fit into their home. And all of that without having to visit a brick-and-mortar store.
That way, shoppers will become more confident about purchasing products online, and retailers enjoy reduced return rates. Naturally, AR takes the entire shopping experience to a new level because it helps customers to experience the product as quickly as possible.
In a recent survey, 35% of respondents said that they would be shopping online more if they could virtually try on a product before buying it. A further 22% declared that they would be less likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if Augmented Reality was available in their favorite e-commerce platform.
In the future, we're going to see a lot more businesses using AR for their products. Augmented Reality will become standard in social media and e-commerce platforms.
Since Artificial Intelligence is increasing in e-commerce, the number of applications it affects are practically limitless. Retailers are bound to use AI to gather information about their visitors and adjust their on-site stores to their preferences.
Consumers today value tailored experiences and products more than ever. This is something that e-commerce retailers often lose when consumers switch to online and self-service shopping.
AI-powered personalization will become a key trend driving the adoption of this technology by the e-commerce sector. As brands capture and analyze more constant consumer data, they can create relevant experiences for shoppers — ones that are fully personalized and one-of-a-kind. This is exactly what shoppers want today.
Ambient commerce combines the use of Artificial Intelligence and sensors to help customers select and pay for the items without relying on checkouts or cash registers. Amazon and Alibaba invested billions of dollars in acquiring stakes in physical retailers. Naturally, such automated stores have been criticized for discriminating against members of the society who don't have bank accounts or smartphones. As a result, some cities in the United States have already banned them and forced Amazon to accept cash payments in some of their stores.
However, this trend might gain some steam in economies impacted by Covid-19, where consumers are on the lookout for opportunities to reduce their contact with other people.
Online to offline (O2O)
O2O commerce is a brand-new business strategy that attracts potential customers from online channels to physical stores. Retailers such as department stores or supermarkets are using O2O strategies to compete with the high-tech sector.
The largest e-commerce businesses like Alibaba have already responded to this trend by moving into off-line commerce themselves.
By implementing the branded experience online and offline, retailers stand to gain more engaged customers and deliver experience through more channels.
Naturally, the off-line sites are equipped with all kinds of smart solutions such as the Internet of Things sensors that will allow them to blend the in-store experience with the online one.
The greatest implementation of AI capabilities lies in chatbots that can deliver customer service 24/7. Chatbots allow retailers to communicate with thousands of their customers while giving them the feeling of personalized contact and offering relevant recommendations.
Today, retailers use chatbots mostly in the area of customer support. However, it's likely that chatbots will become one of the most important marketing tools in a retailer's toolkit. For example, in the retail space, self-checkout will become the norm, and personal shopping assistants will be there to help shoppers get what they want. Moreover, they will use the collected data to help anticipate new products that customers might like.
One of the key advantages of e-commerce is the ability to get shoppers to shop literally from anywhere. According to Statista, by the end of 2020, 73% of e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device.
With this insight in mind, it's critical that retailers build a robust response of design and create mobile apps to engage customers through their prepared channels.
E-commerce businesses are already doing everything they can to provide smooth user experience in e-commerce sites with a number of different payment options that include mobile wallets.
Other trends that link to this is the use of Progressive Web Apps (PWA) and other technologies that offer native-like experience with features such as push notifications. These trends will be giving e-commerce brands another push to improve the customer journey for online shoppers with the help of mobile devices.
According to a recent study, 75% of US households will own a smart speaker by 2025. Consumers are increasingly relying on voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa to perform a variety of actions, from checking the weather to buying products online.
How does this translate into e-commerce?
For example, when a customer realizes that they're running out of milk, they can quickly order it with a simple voice command through the conversational interface of their favorite online grocery store. That way, the user doesn't have to open their laptop, go to their browser, enter the name of the store, add shipping information, and then finally order the product.
The voice assistant will remember past purchases, making it very easy for customers to repeat their orders. It will also allow consumers to order takeout without having to touch anything on a screen. As an increasing number of households become used to this technology, consumers will become more comfortable with making purchases.
This that's why it holds such great potential for e-commerce businesses. Voice-enabled solutions in the e-commerce space are one of the key technology trends of the future.
E-commerce relies on tech today and it's going to embrace even the more cutting-edge solutions in the near future. We hope that this list of trends helps you to understand where e-commerce stands right now and where it will be in the next few years.
If you have any other questions about where e-commerce is headed in terms of tech solutions, feel free to reach out to us and keep a close eye on the blog. Our experts have many years of experience in working with retailers on tech projects and are more than happy to share their insights about the potential of digital tools for reinventing the customer journey.