The eCommerce world is booming. The 2020 pandemic has derailed many industries, but online sales are soaring to record highs. In fact, retail eCommerce sales are projected to reach almost five trillion in 2021.
But the fast pace of eCommerce trends can also be overwhelming. Online businesses with years of experience are seeing their market share dwindle. More innovative newcomers use advanced sales channels. They understand that the shifting eCommerce sales trends that can lead to rapid growth.
At the same time, online entrepreneurs that manage to get ahead of the trends and take advantage of the changes they bring can expect to tap into the ever-present opportunities that are available. It is now more important than ever to keep a finger on the pulse of the industry at all times.
But what eCommerce trends are the most likely to be on the rise in 2021 and beyond? And how will they impact your business?
Let’s explore some of the leading trends that you should keep an eye out for below.
Personalization Will Be Crucial
Keeping and maintaining your target audience’s attention might be the single most impactful aspect of running an online business. With so many distractions vying for the attention of people surfing the web, finding a way to consistently attract their attention and get them to respond is a valuable asset that can launch an entire business in a matter of days.
But while that sounds good in theory, getting people to actually notice your brand and listen to what you have to say is a different story.
After all, how can you ensure that despite the presence of industry giants like Amazon, and steep competition from smaller stores, people looking for what you have to offer actually decide to buy from you?
Well, it all starts with providing solutions that are more personalized and relevant to the specific person on the other side of the screen.
One of the simplest ways you can personalize your audience’s experiences is through product recommendations. Using advanced tracking tools, you can know precisely what each individual prospect cares about and offer them a tailor-made experience on your website or even on your newsletter.
Pura Vida, a brand selling bracelets, attributes more than 1.6 million additional clicks to their efforts in creating two recommendation categories on their product pages. They displayed products that were recently viewed and products that might be relevant based on that activity.
As you learn more about your buyers, finding the perfect recommendations for them will become easier. This will also contribute to making your content more welcome and less of a disruption. After all, you’re not just sending out random offers but are making helpful suggestions that will likely interest your buyers.
Shoppable Videos on Social Media
People today spend as much as 100 minutes daily watching videos. And that’s a statistic that has made video marketing increasingly appealing for eCommerce stores that want to showcase their products and tap into audiences that like visual content.
However, a problem with video content is that there was a disconnect between watching the content and making the actual purchase. People had to leave the video, go to a separate page, find the product they want, and then complete the purchase.
In other words, there was a lot of friction that made the sale much more complicated than needed.
Luckily, shoppable videos have come in to completely revolutionize how consumers can watch and interact with brand-created videos they see online.
Instead of having to go through multiple steps between watching the video and buying, they can do everything with a few clicks. And they can do it all from within the same video and without any external links.
Take a look at this IKEA video as an example.
You’re watching engaging visual content and see attention-drawing shopping buttons throughout the video. If you click on any of the buttons, it will take you to that particular item’s product page, allowing you to complete the purchase in mere seconds.
And the best part is, once you add the product to your cart, you can resume the video where you left off. You can also use this opportunity to see what else you might want to include in your purchase.
This is the type of seamless and integrated shopping experience today’s users expect. While the technology is still young, its early adoption by innovators like IKEA makes it poised to become widely available and used by online stores of all sizes.
More Powerful AI Integration
AI is making its way into all aspects of the business world, with uses such as data processing, task automation, and consumer behavior forecasting just a few of the countless examples of applications that forward-thinking companies are already implementing.
But while the technology is definitely at a stage where it can be helpful, finding ways to use it in your eCommerce store isn’t always easy. This is especially a problem if you aren’t a large company and want to keep things as simple as possible.
The good news is that Artificial Intelligence is no longer reserved for enterprises with millions of dollars in marketing and R&D budgets. The immense potential of AI has been distilled and adapted to the needs of small businesses. It allows them to reap the tremendous benefits it can offer without high overhead costs or significant upfront investments.
eBay is an excellent example of a company that uses AI to provide a completely personalized experience to their user, displaying the content, visuals, and recommendations that match their interests according to a wide range of data analyzed by AI. Today, this same technology is accessible to small companies as well, not just multi-million dollar companies.
Using AI in an effective way
But how exactly can you use AI to improve your operations and make more sales?
Well, one of the most straightforward use examples is taking advantage of AI to improve the way you interact with customers. By installing a chatbot with AI learning capabilities on your site, you can reduce the workload on your live support team. You’ll provide timely, relevant, and informative help for your visitors who want to get answers right now, no matter the time of day.
We already discussed the potential of personalization in providing a better experience for your shoppers. Artificial Intelligence can expand those efforts as well.
AI allows you to process much more data about each prospect. At the same time it offers them timely and relevant suggestions based on a variety of conditions and making educated guesses about what they are the most likely to respond to in seconds.
Finally, you can use AI to make finding products on your site easier and more convenient. Search engines on many online stores are not very helpful. This can be frustrating to many users, especially when they don’t know the specific brand and want a more intuitive search to guide them.
Using AI is an effective way to continually improve the way your site’s search engine operates. You can make it understand more advanced concepts, making more human-like connections.
The Pinterest Save Button, for example, is a Google Chrome extension. It is an excellent example of an intuitive search that allows saving and searching for images, displaying similar results based on what the image contains.
Advanced Payment Options
Few things are as frustrating to online sellers as having a prospect go all the way to the final order page, only to leave because they weren’t satisfied with the selection of available payment methods.
But as an eCommerce store, you also need to be thinking about payment processing fees and subscriptions that each additional payment method might come with.
Options like Authorize.net are well established, operating for more than a couple of decades. But they are still used by hundreds of thousands of online stores worldwide.
PayPal has also been around for a long time. It has become a go-to option for those that want a web-based payment method that’s easy to set up.
Exploring different payment options
However, as the user habits change, so must the stores that serve them. And in 2021, that means exploring the emerging payment options that your users are increasingly likely to want and need to complete the purchase.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use Stripe or PayPal. A lot of users will probably want to stick to those options just because they trust them and are used to them.
But in addition, you should consider adding Amazon Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, to name a few. These are services offered by large companies that have a built-in audience and a strong reputation that people trust.
If you want to really get in front of the changing trends, you could even consider adding cryptocurrency payment gateway apps. This can help if you’re dealing with younger and more tech-smart audiences. They might find this an appealing quality that separates your brand from others.
Voice Search Will Continue to Rise
It seems like most households today use Siri, Amazon Alexa, or Google Assistant, and that’s not even a large exaggeration. According to some estimates, around 41% of adults use voice search at least once per day. That number is set to increase even more in the future.
For eCommerce stores, that means that they need to reconsider how people are going to find their store. They also need to find out whether the majority of their target audience will still use a traditional Google search to find the things they need.
At the very least, smart online business owners should start taking into account the fact that voice search is now an important method for finding online stores. A strategy for getting in front of those users is also no longer optional.
Retailers have been striving to provide a better mobile experience for years. That is now becoming connected with mobile search, as many people actually use voice search as a command on their smartphones.
You should consider how you can use voice-search functionality to provide specific features on mobile devices. You can even allow users to order using a voice ordering system.
A good example of this is Domino’s. They launched their voice ordering system in 2014 and have since generated half a million orders through there alone.
Domino’s isn’t an eCommerce brand (at least not in a traditional sense). But it’s easy to imagine how this same technology could be adapted to almost any online store. It could provide a seamless and convenient experience to users. It could also help them complete their orders without even having to look at your website.
Subscription Services Will Ensure Continuity
As an eCommerce store, one of your top priorities is minimizing the fluctuations your business suffers. You should also ensure a consistent stream of revenue throughout the year.
Unfortunately, with seasonality and shifts in markets, this can be hard to attain. It can therefore have significant consequences on the long-term success of your business.
But if you’re willing to mix up your offerings and adopt emerging sales methods, you might be able to minimize those effects. You will also build a solid foundation on which your business can fall back on.
Subscription services in eCommerce are fast becoming one of the hottest trends of the industry. It used to be more of a niche service offered by a handful of shops. Now it has been adopted in various industries and might work just as well in yours as well.
Basically, an eCommerce subscription service is a business model that provides ongoing services or products to its customers.
Vegancuts is a vegan cosmetics store. It’s made beauty boxes a central part of their sales strategy. This allowed customers to enjoy different items each month and ensured continuity in terms of revenue and customer engagement.
Instead of trying to sell new products to a customer each time, you offer them a fixed service or product type for a set monthly fee. It provides them with either a replenishment of your product, curated products, or subscriptions that are more or less similar each month.
The biggest advantage of this type of business model is the increased customer retention. People get used to receiving monthly products from your company and might end up staying subscribers for multiple years. This means stable and predictable profits you can more or less count on no matter how well your regular sales might be going.
What’s more, these customers are actively engaged with your brand on a regular basis. It will make selling to them again much easier as well. Doing this will provide a significant boost to your customer lifetime value on top of the subscription sales you make every month.
So, while it may take some time to set up and some ingenuity in making the offer appealing, building out a subscription service is definitely worth it in the long term. Especially true when you consider the potential impact it can have on your business security and growth potential.
The eCommerce world is abundant with new opportunities to grow and provide a better experience for shoppers. Because of that, store owners must keep track of the emerging trends. They need to try to find ways to incorporate new technology as quickly as possible.
The trends discussed in this list are already reshaping the way innovative stores worldwide operate. Those that are earlier to the game will gain an advantage that can help take the eCommerce business to another level.