Leveraging ecommerce trends to optimize your site is more vital than ever. As online retail continues to evolve, the ever-changing landscape presents new opportunities, as well as fresh challenges.
First the positive: Online retail is poised for monumental growth in the new decade. Forecasters have predicted that annual ecommerce sales will hit $ 4.5 trillion by the end of 2021, 300% higher than just 5 year ago.
However, the dynamic nature of ecommerce means that brands have to continuously strive to meet the changing demands of consumers.
In this blog post, we look to the future by examining five major ecommerce trends that are predicted to drive our industry forward in 2020 and beyond.
Going Beyond “Mobile Usability” to Create a Unified Omnichannel Experience
Convenience has always been a driving force behind the rise of ecommerce. This reached new heights in the second half of the 2010s, as technological advances took mobile shopping from an idea in its infancy to a part of everyday life. Nothing crystalized this quite as well as the figures from 2019’s Cyber Monday.
In 2011, only 7% of ecommerce purchases happened on a mobile device. Just 8 years later, mobile orders accounted for 65% of traffic and nearly 50% of online purchases during Black Friday and Cyber Week. Continued growth in this segment is expected, as consumers take online shopping out of their living rooms, and into the world at large.
However, the implications of mobile shopping go far beyond accessibility; mobile browsing is changing how users shop. Instead of treating online shopping as a dedicated activity, shoppers are increasingly using it as convenient form of leisure. In traditional commerce, this would be equivalent to window shopping – which is great for traffic, but often bad for overall conversion rates. In fact, the mobile cart abandonment rate currently sits at over 85%.
How You Can Take Action
At this point, every ecommerce site should have a site optimized for mobile browsing. However, as consumers adjust their shopping patterns, sites must go beyond technical functionality to make mobile ordering easy, convenient, and enjoyable for customers. Given the increasing proliferation of low-intent browsing, now is the time to implement Lead Capture tools that allow for effective remarketing after a customer leaves.
Simply offering to save a shopper’s cart can be a great way to capture a lead while providing personalization to the user experience. It also allows users to pick up right where they left off on any device. A seamless experience across devices ensures that shoppers can quickly complete their order on their schedule, a win for both your site and your customers.
Increasing Demand for Flexible Payment Methods
For decades, it has been common for big-ticket retailers to offer their own, in-house financing. Similarly, sites have begun offering financing on items that may not have traditionally qualified for independent financing. Often, this financing is offered through a 3rd party service like Afterpay and Affirm.
These services allow users to pay for items over time, even if the purchases aren’t extremely expensive. In a series of case studies, Afterpay found that offering an on-site financing service can increase conversion rates by 20 – 30%.
These services allow the shopper to buy immediately, and then pay for the item in installments. Often, interest payments are lower than what would typically be charged by a credit card, and the financing has no impact on the user’s credit score.
How You Can Take Action
There are a couple of different ways you can incorporate pay-over-time options on your site. Perhaps the simplest is to simply add the option to your list of accepted payments. When customers enter checkout, they can select the financing option from the list.
However, you can also utilize financing as an abandonment prevention strategy. If a customer abandons a cart that meets a particular value threshold, you can launch messaging that promotes the financing as an option. This strategy mitigates price sensitivity and allows the user to purchase on their own terms, returning them to the conversion flow.
Personalization through AI
No list of ecommerce trends would be complete without mentioning AI, which is proving to be one of the most dynamic tools that sites have at their disposal. As consumers continue to make more of their purchases online, their expectations for an integrated shopping experience have increased. Specifically, a high level of personalization has become a must for most online retailers. The numbers are clear: a full 80% of shoppers buy more from sites that use technology to enhance personalization. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through the power of artificial intelligence.
AI has the power to learn from the behavior of both individual shoppers and your visitors as a whole. This allows you to offer a streamlined experience that benefits both you and your customers.
How You Can Take Action
Artificial Intelligence learns from the behavior of both individual shoppers and visitors to your site as a whole. For example, UpSellit’s product recommendation engine utilizes AI to increase average order value without offering an incentive. For one of its major fashion clients, a simple AI product recommendation at checkout increased AOV by a full 19.6%.
If you haven’t already integrated machine learning into your site, or you feel it could be performing better, now is the time to address this gap and start selling smarter, not harder.
The Return of Chatbots
Perhaps the most surprising of the ecommerce trends we’ll be discussing is the surging popularity of chatbots. These tools have existed for a quite a while, but had largely fallen out of favor until recently.
Chatbots have improved significantly in the past decade. While they used to rely exclusively on pre-chosen questions and answers, chatbots have grown far more intuitive. Sources such as Gartner report that nearly 47% of organizations are expected to use chatbots for customer service in the next couple of years, and 40% will utilize virtual sales assistants.
In a world where 50% of customers expect online support to be available 24/7, utilizing chatbots makes more sense than ever. Plus, with an expected market value of $ 1.4 billion by 2024, confidence in the power of chatbots is clear.
How You Can Take Action
Although chatbots are often used for social media sales, they can also be extremely useful for on-site promotions as well. Chatbots are a great way to help customers who have questions about an item or the return process. Bots can be programmed to answer frequently asked questions, and offer customers detailed responses to general questions.
In addition, brands can leverage chatbots as an abandonment tool. A well-timed incentive delivered through a live-chat can create the difference between abandonment and conversion.
The Free Shipping Debate
Another one of the ecommerce trends we’ve been following is the newfound consumer expectation of free shipping. According to the NRF, a full 75% of American consumers now expect free shipping on most orders, up considerably from past years. In this previous article, we discussed the psychology of free shipping, and the reasons that users feel drawn to free shipping offers – and why consumers dislike shipping costs so intensely.
Shipping costs have been a major ecommerce pain point from the very beginning. The truth is that neither consumers nor businesses want to pay for shipping, but these costs are a necessary part of any ecommerce business.
As consumers have become accustomed to Amazon’s Prime’s massively popular free 2-day shipping model, other online businesses have certainly felt the pinch. In fact, over ? of all site abandonment is partially due to unexpected shipping costs.
The pressure to offer free shipping is enormous. In order to compete with a giant like Amazon, many businesses feel as though they have no choice except to offer free shipping, an expensive endeavor for many smaller ecommerce brands.
How You Can Take Action
While permanently offering free shipping isn’t necessarily a good option, a happy medium lies in thresholds. In essence, these shipping schemes offer users free shipping once they’ve purchased a certain amount from your site.
This type of offer is good for several reasons. First, it helps you remain competitive in an increasingly saturated ecommerce space. Second, it increases consumer spending and average order value as customers work to meet the threshold.
New Year, New Perspectives
The 2020s are expected to be a massive decade for ecommerce. For an industry that’s seen explosive growth in the past 10 years and an ever-increasing share of overall retail, just about everything is coming up roses.
On the other hand, consumer expectations are increasing every day. With the increased popularity of online shopping comes more competition for clicks and conversions. By implementing strategies based on the ecommerce trends outlined here, you will position yourself for success in 2020 and beyond.
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