2020 has been a whirlwind year for ecommerce. Ahead of the holiday shopping season, we’re already looking at an 18% spike in revenue for the industry this year, and ecommerce is expected to reach $4.13 trillion in 2020.
The stampede of brick and mortar businesses into ecommerce has been astounding. Early predictions show that retail’s expected decline will be around 10.5% by the end of the year, more than QUADRUPLE earlier predictions.
While the economic fallout from COVID-19 has been catastrophic, one thing’s for certain: ecommerce. Is. BOOMING. Online orders are up 80% since January, and even in a pandemic, the predictions look promising.
Ahead of that growth are trends that are setting the stage for an online shopping experience that’s more immersive and personalized than ever before.
Let’s talk about the top 8 emerging trends.
1. Chatbots Are the New Virtual Shopping Concierges
The rise of the chatbot is reaching its apex in 2020, with 80% of ecommerce businesses predicted to integrate some form of the tool by the end of the year – and they’ve come a long way. With the integration of AI and machine learning, chatbots are getting better at understanding language and providing helpful responses.
2. AI-Driven Product Recommendations Are Driving CRAZY Spikes In Revenue
In addition to innovations with chatbots, artificial intelligence is being used to enhance product recommendations for retail marketplaces such as Amazon. On Amazon’s platform alone, product upselling through these recommendations accounts for an ASTOUNDING 35% of overall revenues.
Early data shows that these types of recommendation enhancements can increase conversion rates for ecommerce sites by as much as 915%.
3. Buy Online Pick Up In Store Is Where It’s At
For order delivery time, the bar has never been higher. Ninety-percent of shoppers say that a delivery date of more than two days has deterred them from purchasing a product before (thanks, Amazon).
BOPIS (Buy Online Pick Up In Store) is a type of shopping that allows a shopper to purchase something online, and then pick it up locally. Forty-eight percent of shoppers reportedly use BOPIS to counter expensive shipping costs, and over 40% use it to get items in time for the holidays.
With such strong numbers, ecommerce companies are scrambling to adopt the practice. According to BigCommerce, 61% of retailers mark BOPIS as at the top of their list for investments in the next year.
4. Direct to Consumer Numbers Have Never Been Stronger
When Amazon shuttered purchasing of nonessential goods in early 2020, consumer goods wholesalers were left in a panic as huge portions of their revenue disappeared overnight.
Now to avoid the uncertainty of ebbing and flowing consumer demand, many B2B wholesalers are pivoting towards a direct to consumer, or DTC model. The industry’s growth initially had flatlined as investment capital began to dry up, but is now seeing a surge again, and is projected to hit $18 billion in 2020.
5. Livestream Ecommerce Is Making Its Debut in the US
There are quiet stirrings of an ecommerce trend that’s done exceedingly well in China finally setting up shop in the United States. Called the QVC of Gen Z, live commerce platforms enable video viewers to watch product demonstrations in real-time and make purchases within the app, typically with no interruption in the video feed.
The shopping and streaming experience is simultaneous, and is attracting the attention of American venture capitalists – and it’s no wonder. In 2019, live commerce hit a whopping $63 billion in China.
6. Smartphone Shopping Numbers Are Surging
The move to mobile has seen a slower transition in ecommerce than it has for content consumption, but we’re finally reaching the tipping point. At this point, 51% of purchases are now happening on smartphones, leading developers to focus on progressive web apps for ecommerce customers.
PWAs keep the UX consistent from desktop to mobile, reducing customer dropoff and keeping the UI consistent and easy to use. Statistics show that the use of PWAs in ecommerce has a dramatic impact on conversion and bounce rates, with some companies seeing an increase in the former of 30%.
7. Incredible Front End Customization for Personalized Experiences
Personalized ecommerce is at the forefront of innovation for 2020. A new trend known as “headless ecommerce” allows developers to fully offload the front end of their website from their platform to allow for fully custom coded personalization.
This practice allows for unparalleled personalization not previously allowed within the constraints of most ecommerce applications, paving the way for a personalized shopping experience set to rival segmentation.
Studies show that personalization has a unique impact on a shopper’s likelihood of purchasing a product, with more than 80% being more likely to purchase from personalized ecommerce sites.
8. Virtual Showrooms Are Digitizing Retail Stores
If virtual reality was on the rise before, COVID-19 has pushed it full force into deployment as a virtual shopping experience for ecommerce brands and retailers.
In 2020, the rise in experiential ecommerce and the requirement for connection with a brand was the driving force behind such innovations as virtual showrooms and in-store experiences. With the capability to digitize their brick and mortar locations, high-end retailers are able to allow their customers to literally shop the store online through virtual reality.
According to Obsess, a VR and AR firm specializing in digitized retail, 78% of millennial shoppers are in favor of a virtual reality experience in their shopping apps.
“While the foot traffic is low to the stores, Obsess is enabling retailers to quickly make their retail stores shoppable ‘remotely’,” says Amrita Maria, champion of business development at Obsess. “With Obsess, our clients are showcasing their collections to their buyers globally, who are not travelling to fashion capitals this season by creating 3D 360 photorealistic virtual showrooms in which buyers can experience the collection and get the full brand experience.”
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