The trends identified here all point to three main objectives:
- Reducing friction in the buying (and selling) journey
- Creating rich brand experiences
- Selling anywhere and everywhere
In other words, the future of ecommerce will be driven by increasing convenience for both merchants and their shoppers, providing rich, compelling shopping experiences, and enabling experiences across channels in a consistent, customer-friendly way.
1.Global ecommerce grows as markets outside of U.S. accelerate adoption of online shopping.
The ecommerce share of retail sales globally has been on the rise for at least the past five years and is expected to continue.
Net consumer optimism has decreased in several countries, according to McKinsey data, as a result of COVID-19. However, the pandemic has also necessitated greater adoption of ecommerce, especially for essential items.
This opens up a big opportunity in expanding sales cross-border to countries in which the growth rate for ecommerce penetration previously lagged.
That said, brands will have to do their own research into whether or not an international expansion is right for their online business. Some things to consider:
- Is there demand for my product or category in that market?
- Will my marketing translate cross-culturally, or will the brand need to invest in unique campaigns?
- Do we need to localize our ecommerce site for an international audience?
- Which payment options are most popular in the target country?
- How will we approach cross-border shipping?
Consider all the costs of marketing, selling, and shipping internationally so you can assess whether it will be worth it for your brand to leverage global ecommerce opportunities. Also important to note: in selling to mobile-first regions like APAC, Africa, and the Middle East, delivering an easy-to-use mobile shopping experience will be critical.
2.Voice commerce and headless technology will open the door to automated commerce.
A January 2019 survey found that about 45% of Millennials had used voice technology like the Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa to conduct some kind of shopping activity. As users become increasingly comfortable with using voice-assisted technologies like smart speakers, this will likely increase — to a point.
It’s still a bit of a leap to think that we might be ordering new apparel or home decor without ever seeing it, but easier to imagine a use case for reordering, for example: “Alexa, put dog food in my shopping cart.”
In this case, Amazon remembers your brand and quantity preferences, making reordering a breeze.
The ultimate future for this, though, builds on the voice commerce trend along with the rise in subscriptions to reach automated commerce (acommerce) and headless commerce-powered IoT devices.
“Headless commerce is reaching a point where it’s defining itself in the market,” said Amir Hessabi, an enterprise solutions engineer at BigCommerce. “We’re thinking about headless as a commerce engine that can be paired with anything — like IoT devices.”
With acommerce, an IoT-connected device will sense when you’re running low on an item you subscribe to and will automatically order it for you.
Talk about inventory management — for your fridge.
Brands with products that fit in well with that model — consumer packaged goods, for example — are the ones who should spend the most time thinking about this one.
3.Customer experience becomes a driving force in development.
As COVID-19 pushes us further toward a digital-first world, brands will have to work harder to provide the rich, compelling shopping experiences that hold their customers’ attention in the crowded ecommerce market.
Now that the technologies to create differentiated experiences are becoming more accessible, brands are looking to innovate. So how can you give your customers the best possible experience?
3D, augmented reality, and video.
Video a way to immerse shoppers in the ecommerce experience as well as the brand. Compelling video creates an opportunity to spark feeling and engagement, and gives your shoppers something to interact with.
Don’t stop at the boundary of your digital storefront. The brand experience has to tell a consistent narrative across channels, devices, and contexts — including your online store.
Contrast agency founder Elliott Davidson sees a lot of untapped potential in figuring out how to solve the “in-person, white-glove service that customers have come to expect in retail.” So, how can ecommerce websites leverage the benefits of bespoke customer service?
“A great example of a retail company going further is one of our clients offer FaceTime calls to enable customers to ask as many questions about the product as they want. With high ticket sales they do a custom service and really analyse what the customer’s needs/requirements are,” said Davison.
For brands considering improvements to their customer experience, start looking into how headless commerce could help you best bring your vision into the light.