What can be more convenient than the opportunity to buy and sell products in just a few clicks? In 2020, more than 2 billion people bought goods online. The same year, eCommerce sales worldwide were estimated at $4.28 trillion. With more and more businesses entering this market, we should take a look at all ecommerce trends you need to follow to stay competitive.
Online Shopping Trends that Will Stay Relevant
Do you want to open an eCommerce business? Then check out the 10-step guide not to miss anything vital and accumulate the necessary resources. And if you have an online store and want to know what is waiting for retail in the future — let’s move to the discussion.
BOPIS (or click and collect) is still in demand.
With the rise of the pandemic, BOPIS (buy online and pick up in store) became a necessity. Retailers couldn’t allow clients to enter a brick-and-mortar store and thus offered them either delivery service or curbside pickup. The convenience and speed of the second helped to turn it into one of the growing trends in online shopping. By 2024, the click and collect market in the US is projected to grow to $140 billion.
Click and collect represents the form of omnichannel customer experience with high returns. E-commerce clients love BOPIS for efficiency and speed. They save delivery costs and can quickly get their orders from the nearest spot. Meanwhile, clients do not have to spend lots of time at brick-and-mortar stores since they place their orders online on ecommerce sites. By offering click and collect, you bridge the gap between those who prefer online shopping and those who love the very process of visiting physical stores but want to make it as efficient as possible.
As for the trends of B2B e-commerce, online shoppers see how the B2C experiences are changing. They also expect that B2B sellers will be able to fulfill orders faster. To facilitate order fulfillment and streamline the processes, B2B companies will have to use automation like order management software or robots (as Shopify does). With order management systems, supply chain management can be extremely simplified across multiple sales touchpoints. Also, there are other alternatives such as third-party fulfillment (3PL) or warehouse automation. 3PL is a good option for growing online stores looking for ways to minimize their expenditures.
Going green becomes a trend and a necessity.
B2B ecommerce should drive environmental and social sustainability initiatives. Especially, it concerns ecommerce brands performing in high-risk sectors. Adrian King, Co-Chair of KPMG IMPACT, appeals to business leaders to help fight the biodiversity crisis right now since those neglecting such issues will be scrutinized very soon.
According to the NAVEX Global survey, millennials’ leaders appreciate ESG initiatives. They are more inherent to implement sustainable programs than their predecessors. 64% believe they should, and 55% state that environmental factors most impact a company’s reputation. Meantime, the KPMG Survey of Sustainability Reporting states that the volume of sustainability reporting increased. 90% of the largest companies in the world published sustainability reports compared to 30 years ago when this figure was only 12%. All that is driven not only by government and regulations but also by increasing awareness of how ESG issues impact corporate value and financial performance.
More and more prominent eCommerce companies pledge to implement practices that are environmentally friendly in the future. Amazon, for example, intends to go completely carbon-free by 2040. Companies that become “green” sooner raise their chances of becoming major players in the online retail market in the coming years.
Some of the steps that you can take towards embracing green consumerism:
- Be open about your goals and the “green” practices that you use to achieve them.
- Provide regular updates on the status of your goals.
- Use email instead of paper to send receipts.
- Switch to eco-friendly packaging for your existing products.
For e-commerce companies, reducing packaging waste is a good way to start. Here are some ideas of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic:
Mobile shopping is getting smarter.
It’s no secret that mobile software development is taking over the e-commerce industry. In 2017, the mobile commerce market share was 58.9%. In 2021, it was projected to reach 72.9%. Such numbers surprise neither eCommerce businesses nor their customers. What is changing is the power of m-commerce — mobile shopping is getting smarter. Automation and analytics tools enhance order processing and fulfillment. Clients get 24/7 support, while businesses are ensured high-level stock management and control. Machines do work instead of humans and save them time for more creative and goal-oriented experiences.
The mobile-first approach is a software development method where the solutions are built with mobile devices in mind and are the base for all further development. That means, designing your ecommerce solution first to work for mobile devices, then to work for desktop devices. We often advise our eCommerce clients to adopt a mobile-first approach for developing eCommerce software. For example, we carried out research for Offerta and found out that more than half of their B2B customers offer services via smartphones.
If you are inspired by the prospects eCommerce offers and want to build your own solution, take the process of looking for partners seriously. In our recent blogpost, Forbytes’ Chief Business Development Officer has outlined his most valuable pieces of advice for choosing an eCommerce development company. We invite you to check it out to find the best fit for your business case.
Chatbots are customers’ best friends.
Usually, chatbots are able to answer at least 80% of common questions asked by clients. Among the benefits they offer, the most important is getting a quick answer in an emergency (37%). This advantage is followed by another one — resolving a complaint or problem (35%). One more thing that customers expect from using chatbots is getting detailed answers or explanations (35%).
Still, businesses should realize that chatbots cannot replace humans. They do offer benefits, but users claim human communication to be the best solution for the issues they encounter.
The best way is to implement chatbots but offer clients the chance to get in touch with employees if a chatbot fails to satisfy their requests.
Top Ecommerce Trends that Will Enter the Game
Voice search will seriously compete with text search.
Customers are getting used to a more convenient form of making search requests — voice searching. In 2020, more than 4 billion digital voice assistants were being used worldwide. By 2024, this number is going to double, reaching 8.4 billion. As more and more people will use voice assistants in the nearby future, we forecast that the rise of voice searches will be one more ecommerce trend.
You should optimize your ecommerce website for voice search. Here are a few tips on how to do that:
- Use long-tail key phrases that are highly contextualized to optimize your web pages for actual questions rather than exact keywords.
- Make sure your website is fast, secure (uses HTTPS), and works well on mobile.
- Create a voice-based option for your ecommerce website navigation.
- Streamline your checkout process to make it easier to complete with voice commands.
Gen Z appear on the scene.
The customer base will shift significantly. Where millennials once edged out boomers, you must now put effort into appealing to Gen Z. These digital natives will surely lead to an increase in online sales and mobile shopping. But they also expect customer experience to be efficient and hassle-free. Here are some more facts about Gen Z’s customer behavior:
The first thing that makes Gen Z different is their age, of course. Gen Z are those born in 1997-2012. As you see, these people grew up in the era of technological advancement. Unlike millennials, they did not have to get used to technology — from the very start, technology was present in their lives. As more and more Gen Z people are becoming e-commerce clients, companies need to ensure a smooth and effortless experience. Compared to millennials, Gen Z possess different financial habits and rely on different factors while making decisions. Non-personalized communication, aggressive sales pitches, and cold calls belong to B2B marketing tactics that Gen Zers hate nowadays. That’s why the number of B2B companies that invest in building a self-service B2B ecommerce strategy increases.
As for millennials who still make up 60% of the market, 87% of them prefer self-service options rather than talking to vendor representatives. What influences their customer behavior? Free trials, product demos, and user reviews are among top-3 trustworthy information sources in comparison to product websites and vendor representatives, which are less influential and trustworthy.
Online marketplaces will be in the spotlight.
Third-party marketplaces like Amazon and Alibaba have reached their peak popularity today. The benefit of the online marketplace is that buyers have various options from different suppliers available in one ecommerce platform. 87% of B2B buyers use the marketplace as their primary channel of making purchases.
Client privacy preferences will keep changing.
Among the trends in B2B e-commerce, there also is quite a challenging one. Privacy preferences are changing, and accepting cookies is no longer a matter of one click. Today, 79% of US users feel concerned about their data. Clients are getting curious about how businesses use their personal info and what is done by companies to protect it. You have to stay transparent and inform your customers of all data privacy regulations you implement.
Subscriptions will penetrate the ecommerce industry.
If you think that the trend for subscriptions disappeared when people started to read fewer magazines and newspapers, let us surprise you. This trend in e-commerce is growing at a fast pace. Subscription is a model that enables clients to subscribe to services or products and receive them regularly. As a rule, what attracts clients is the lower price of a subscription in contrast to ordering goods or services repetitively. Also, they save time and get the desired service without any effort and extra pay. From the business side, companies get customer loyalty and confidence in tomorrow.
Ecommerce Trends that Will Rule the Industry
Self-service buying portals gain momentum.
Self-service portals not only enhance customer experiences but also can significantly improve your company’s internal efficiency. They save time for order processing, delivery, and sales. Integration with your ERP system and a payment service provider will make the purchase experience much more efficient and beneficial for both sides. However, it doesn’t mean that this trend will replace human interaction. Sales reps and ecommerce consultants will be needed to add value to the client experience. Instead of calculating prices, managing sending and delivery, checking product statuses, they will be more focused on nurturing their customers to make their journey more sophisticated.
The popularity of progressive web apps will significantly increase.
Among the benefits of PWA are the native-app-like user experience, easy maintenance and update, excellent connectivity even if the user is offline, smooth and fast scrolling and animations, cross-device compatibility, easy installation, and more. Instead of downloading the latest version of the app, customers just need to go to the ecommerce site from a desktop, mobile phone, laptop, or tablet. The web app will work fast and smoothly without undergoing the standard agreement processes.
There will be no need for B2B customers to provide their emails or authorize in order to get updated information (which can be released as often as you want) or push notifications. Furthermore, PWA offers better performance and a more streamlined customer journey when compared with native mobile apps.
B2B sellers, in turn, will also get significant benefits. Since they will have no need to build a mobile app, they will minimize expenditures. Moreover, with progressive web apps, businesses can enhance their SEO and be discoverable in search. Reduced bounce rates and low data usage will also be determinant factors, leading B2B businesses to select PWA rather than mobile apps.
AI-powered personalization earns client recognition.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning automate personalization. It analyzes how and when clients shop online, what products they are looking for, what product recommendations work for them, what are their shopping habits, and much more. According to Gartner, businesses will benefit from AI, reaching $3.9 trillion globally this year. Semrush states that more than 70% of marketers consider AI as a useful tool for personalization. Besides, 79% of organizations believe that AI makes their work easier, while 75% of businesses note that artificial intelligence enables them to enter new markets. This is what exactly they say about artificial intelligence:
Augmented reality helps set realistic product expectations.
Have you ever come across funny memes about the expectation/reality of shopping online, like the one below? Augmented reality is going to put an end to the common fails associated with an online purchase.
With this ecommerce technology, users get the chance to visualize their purchases. They no longer want to wonder if this shade of red will suit them, or if this retro lamp will fit into their living room’s interior. Augmented reality allows people to use their phone’s camera to see the new addition to the real world.
A great example of AR in action is the Wanna Kicks app. The app allows users to get sneakers out on their feet using the technology of augmented reality. Wanna Kicks enables people to try on new drops, classic models, and exclusive offers to pick up the best pair. Not only makes is it easier for a user to choose but it’s also quite an entertaining experience. By sharing favorite releases with friends, people both have fun and help businesses reach a new audience.
As for B2B ecommerce, augmented reality can also bring tremendous outcomes. Let’s take the example of VNTANA, the industry leader in 3D technology eCommerce, which doubled its conversion rates and increased cart size by 60%. This is how B2B companies use AR:
- Product presentation. B2B sellers can enhance their sales opportunities by presenting their product portfolios in the most realistic and immersive way. For example, you can use AR to demonstrate your products in real estate displaying the details. Or you can manipulate and customize furniture and home accessories, as the IKEA Place app does for mobile users:
- Data visualization. It’s one of the powerful B2B ecommerce trends which aims to translate complex data into a 3D visual representation. Such an approach helps understand data like never before. For instance, IBM Immersive Insight is a tool representing 3D data to enhance data science by viewing data from new angles and easily grasping insights. Although it’s still an emerging technology, we believe that it will become one of the huge trends in B2B e-commerce.
- Metaverse space. You might hear about the latest news on Facebook’s metaverse. But this is not the only case. For example, Metadome, Adloid’s metaverse, offers its customers solutions that can increase sales conversions from online channels up to 200%. With this solution, consumers and businesses can build their own realities in home decor, automobile, beauty, food, electronics, and other industries. In October this year, Hyundai used Roblox online gaming platform to create a metaverse space called Hyundai Mobility Adventure. In this virtual space, potential clients can customize their avatars and experience Hyundai Motor products and future mobility solutions.
Social commerce will be even more convenient.
Social commerce is buying and selling online via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. It’s one of the e-commerce trends that work best for the young generation. For them, social media channels are means of communication, knowledge-sharing, and purchasing services. Let’s take a look at how Instagram turns into a place for selling products and marketing.
In 2020, Instagram presented a couple of interesting features to enhance ecommerce. Namely, ecommerce companies are now able to create customizable accounts for business, sell products directly from their posts or the influencers’ posts, add product tags that mention product name and cost, and even integrate a chatbot into direct messages for faster communication.
Bonus Trend: Dynamic Pricing
Dynamic pricing is also on the list of top emerging B2B trends. Data pricing already helps online retailers stay ahead of the competition and attract more customers. Studies found that carefully crafting and implementing a unique strategy can boost your revenue. Dynamic pricing software is definitely something to consider in your B2B ecommerce strategy.
The Future of Ecommerce: Bigger, Better, Safer
What will the eCommerce of tomorrow look like? It will surely grow bigger, better, and safer.
- eCommerce businesses will continue to boost their flexibility. They will offer customers a variety of approaches to shopping, payment, and shipping. Companies will continue to integrate different business models into their platforms with the aim of scaling up.
- Omnichannel personalization will be as important as never before. Over 98% of B2B customers get the same purchasing experience across multiple channels. Therefore, your B2B ecommerce strategy must encompass self-service methods and human-assisted services to ensure hybrid selling models. Moreover, the omnichannel approach is not only about selling – it’s about building a solid brand presence.
- It will be integration that will keep transforming the eCommerce market. Businesses will continue to integrate tools, solutions, and functions into unified, complex systems. By doing so, they will reduce the interactions between third parties and the customer. It will raise ecommerce security and save a ton of time.
We hope that our analysis of the online shopping trends and B2B e-commerce trends was insightful. If you think that it’s time to build an e-commerce solution or upgrade the existing one — do not hesitate to contact Forbytes. Our team is ready to help you conquer the market with powerful digital tools and innovations.