Did you know that U.S. consumers will spend more than $709 billion on eCommerce in 2020? That’s an 18% increase.
It’s no secret that eCommerce sales have only continued to accelerate this year with the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place orders.
Over the next few years, eCommerce sales are estimated to dominate $20 of every $100 consumers spend annually. Is your business prepared to make that leap?
In this post, we’re diving into nine ecommerce trends to watch to help you prepare your eCommerce business for future growth.
One-click payments are the future
Now more than ever, customers expect a frictionless checkout—and by frictionless, we also mean contactless and fast. Successful eCommerce platforms have embraced a quick checkout experience that skimps on data entry and boasts a more convenient purchasing process. Consider online retail giants like Amazon or Walmart, who utilize one-click payments to eliminate the need to fumble with credit cards and reduce payment errors.
Not to mention, the widespread incorporation of mobile wallet features such as Apple Pay and Google Pay has increasingly quickened a customer’s perception of how long it should take to buy a product online.
With contactless transaction values anticipated to reach more than $178 billion by the year’s end, and current projections reaching $1.5 trillion by 2024, one could imagine that a preference for mobile wallets isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
Headless commerce is here to stay
Unlike traditional eCommerce, which has a predefined front-end that’s tightly coupled with the backend code, headless commerce has completely decoupled the frontend presentation layer for streamlined functionality.
So, what does this mean for your business?
Headless commerce creates endless possibilities in terms of customization. With traditional eCommerce, your developers would need to edit countless layers of code between the frontend, database, and backend to customize your customer journey, and then pray that the changes you make don’t end up breaking something else.
Since headless commerce has already separated the front-end from the backend, you simply need to have a front-end developer tweak the components of your front-facing presentation layer. This flexibility allows you to create an experience-driven site, with the ability to implement artificial intelligence (AI) or augmented reality (AR) capabilities, implement seamless digital touchpoints across devices, and even custom checkout flows.
More purchases will happen on smartphones
During the 2019 holiday season, a third of all online purchases were completed from a smartphone. And, on Cyber Monday, 54% of shoppers completed their transactions using mobile devices, a dramatic increase from the year before.
Though most websites can be reached from a smartphone, the bigger question is whether or not the shopping experience is enjoyable for the consumer. If the website takes 30 seconds to load properly, the design is cluttered and hard to navigate, or the checkout process isn’t seamless, most people will go elsewhere.
Pro Tip: Setting up a mobile checkout experience doesn’t need to be time-intensive or hard. Now, there are tons of software options, such as JotForm’s Paypal Commerce Platform integration, which makes it easy for even solopreneurs and small businesses to deliver a great purchasing experience.
This segues into the fourth trend you should take note of, which is a continued rise in accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and progressive web apps (PWA).
An increase in innovative Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)
A progressive web application (PWA) combines the best of both the web and mobile apps. PWAs are built using web technologies, like CSS or APIs, but they act and feel like an app. Your customers can install web apps to their home screen, receive push notifications, and even promote offline working capabilities. To offer the most seamless mobile customer experiences, PWAs can load immediately, regardless of whether or not the user is online.
More commonly, eCommerce sites are combining a PWA with an accelerated mobile page (AMP). AMP’s are essentially mobile-first web pages that have been stripped down to basic HTML to drastically decrease their loading time. AMPs are the building blocks of Google’s mobile-first index, which gives preference to mobile optimization in search results.
More customers will use voice search
In 2018, nearly 28% of U.S. households owned a smart speaker. By 2025, that number is projected to reach 75% of all American households.
And, a recent U.S. Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report discovered that approximately 15% of smart speaker owners are using their products for voice purchases regularly. Nearly 30% are using these devices each monthly for product searches.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to optimize your eCommerce website for voice search. A variety of simple SEO strategies can increase the skin you have in the voice search game.
For instance, voice search keywords are generally longer and more conversational. So, while the target term “sewing a pocket” is ideal for mobile or desktop search, a voice search is more likely to be, “Hey Alexa, how do I sew a pocket on my jeans?”
Likewise, bear in mind that results for most voice queries are derived from the featured snippets found on traditional searches. Voice searchers are looking for immediate results, and featured snippets are Google’s method of condensing key information into bite-sized morsels. eCommerce sites should include both long-tail voice queries and featured snippets into their existing content marketing efforts to succeed in the evolving eCommerce climate.
New advancements in augmented reality (AR)
Let’s face it; the majority of consumers prefer online shopping experience because it offers an easier method of finding products they love without having to leave the comfort of their own home. Plus, browsing online allows consumers to weigh the price point of items they’re interested in purchasing against competitors in the space. However, consumers are no longer impressed with a handful of stock photos advertising your products.
Enter augmented reality (AR).
Augmented reality allows consumers to fully immerse themselves in your products before purchasing. Consider IKEA, the Swedish furniture and home decor giant. In 2018, IKEA implemented AR features on both their website and mobile app to allow users to envision what their furniture favorites could potentially look like in their home without having to step foot in the giant maze that is IKEA’s flagship stores.
Earlier this year, Pinterest launched “Try On, powered by Lens,” an AR program that allows users to virtually try on makeup products. Much like IKEA’s AR function, Pinterest’s Try On allows users to experiment with products and purchase directly through the app. By virtually handling the products before purchase, one could argue that AR helps to reduce returns from users who received a product that was not as they expected. And in an industry such as cosmetics, in which most returned products must be trashed, fewer returns are a very welcomed thing.
Artificial intelligence will deliver smart recommendations and personalized experiences
While eCommerce offers plenty of benefits, a traditional brick and mortar store could not, there is one trump card physical retailers hold: in-store associates. A sales associate could quickly connect with a customer and offer personalized guidance depending on the customer’s needs.
On the web, artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly moving in to take the place of virtual store associates.
Consider it this way: SHEIN, a Chinese eCommerce store featuring women’s fast-fashion clothing, boasts an AI-powered size guide. Instead of being measured by an in-store associate, a desktop or mobile app shopper enters their height and weight, age, common sizing in similar brands, and selects photos which most accurately represent their body type. The size guide then compares a user’s answers against a database of thousands of other user submissions to generate a size recommendation for the shopper.
They also keep a record of each size guide quiz a user takes. So, if a user wore a size large in pants and a size medium in shirts, large and medium would be auto-selected for each product respectively. This feature can be especially beneficial for consumers browsing general categories of products since the AI feature can remove products no longer available in their size.
Likewise, AI-powered data can generate smart product recommendations using a shopper’s past purchases along with more upsell opportunities to increase average order value (AOV).
A spike in influencer sales
Influencers are a shopper’s confidant and an eCommerce brand’s best friend. Nearly 50% of shoppers look to influencers before making purchasing decisions. For eCommerce brands, influencers can be your ticket to skyrocketing sales.
This is especially for Instagram influencers, which has become a $1.7 billion industry.
While you shouldn’t rush to send your product to anyone with a social media following, influencer research surrounding each industry is rapidly growing. Consider implementing influencer campaigns, especially around the time of sitewide sales or promotions, to begin testing the waters.
User-generated content will continue to grow
User-generated content (UGC) has rapidly grown over the past few years. Most consumers are now equipped with smartphone technology and web applications to essentially develop creative campaigns on the go. This is especially true of Gen Z and Millennials.
In fact, ads based on user-generated content receive four-times higher click-through rates and experience a 50% drop in cost-per-click (CPC) compared to traditional ads. Not only can UGC humanize your content, but the majority of shoppers believe user-generated content is very helpful when making a purchasing decision.
As eCommerce continues to take over an increasing amount of the retail market share, now is the time to prepare your brand for growth. By incorporating these recent trends and ensuring your platform is optimized for every area of consumer reach, you can prepare your brand for the future of ecommerce.