Gone are the days when owning an online store was an afterthought or a fancy accessory that businesses used to show they were active on the web. Ecommerce today has revolutionized retail in a way that simply didn’t exist before. From high-quality integration to enhanced return policies, from customization to ease of access — buying goods over the internet has evolved to meet the changing requirements of shoppers. Therefore, today’s best ecommerce platforms must make online stores a part of their core strategy and stay on top of all the latest ecommerce trends to gain traction in the market.
But what are these trends? And how can a business take advantage of them to take their online store to the next level? Below we explore the latest and the best trends that have taken ecommerce by storm in 2021, and how manufacturers and retailers can best benefit from them:
#1. Green Consumerism
There is no doubt that consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious by the day. Vegan skincare, plantable pens, recycled modern furniture — environmental concerns are increasingly influencing people’s buying decisions. In fact, according to a report by the Hartman Group, 84% of the population falls within the category of “World of Sustainability.” This indicates an increasing demand for taking care of the environment which is parallel to that of personal requirements. For businesses looking for an opportunity to win, this rise in green consumerism makes for one of the best ecommerce trends in recent times.
With over half of all digital consumers claiming to opt for eco-friendly choices over conventional ones, retailers can easily turn over the tide by making subtle changes to their offered items — and the way they manufacture them. They can start by conducting an internal audit of their manufacturing process, then find ways to replace conventional manufacturing with more eco-friendly options. This can include several options – switching to locally-sourced materials, avoiding nonbiodegradable items, using recycled materials, or even reclaiming furniture. The more the customers know about the business’s part in protecting nature, the most trustworthy and approachable they will be.
#2. International Market
The entire world today has become a global village. From remote companies hiring employees from all over the globe to non-banking financial institutions, cross-country transactions have become simpler and easier than ever. On one hand, this allows people to have wider access to a variety of goods and services that were previously not available in their home environment. On the other hand, it allows manufacturers to exponentially increase the reach of the area in which they can sell their products and earn profits.
With cross-border purchases set to account for at least one-fifth of all worldwide transactions, retailers must make it a point to include what is clearly one of the most fast-evolving ecommerce trends in their growth strategy. Industries that support ecommerce are already doing their part to make international sales and delivery of goods easier — ecommerce websites now allow multi-currency transactions. Some even have corresponding stores for nationalities designed according to the country’s native language and currency. Finance is getting simpler too — the existence of third-party logistics companies simplifies the differences in tax rules between countries.
#3. Social Media Ecommerce
Social media’s rise as one of the key ecommerce trends is not the most surprising of revelations. After all, it has evolved to become an important part of every aspect of human life, including the way people buy things. Social shopping is rapidly becoming the preferred way for buyers to shop online. Facebook now doubles as a top ecommerce platform, while Instagram has its own “Checkout on Instagram” that allows customers to buy without ever leaving their feed. Meanwhile, Pinterest has made a name for itself with its one-of-a-kind visual search feature, which allows people to find products they can buy from any photo they find on the internet.
This trend in ecommerce is one of the best things any business today can take great advantage of to grow by leaps and bounds. Nowadays, simply having profiles is not enough — businesses must have active social media pages that interact authentically with their customers — paying or otherwise. They also must adapt to the latest features related to social browsing and visual searches, while making sure they rank high on the respective social media algorithm. Retailers should also invest in making a solid PR strategy that will help them attract influencers who can endorse their products.
#4. Voice Commerce
Touted as the biggest non-visual in ecommerce, voice commerce is a new and improved way for people to browse and buy products. Ever since its mass introduction in 2014, voice commerce has evolved as one of the biggest ecommerce trends. The introduction of smart speakers of the likes of Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, Google Home, and Apple Home-Pod have made people more inclined to order products simply through speech. In 2019, an OC&C Strategy Consultants report revealed that 13% of smart speaker users in the United States preferred to purchase through voice — a figure that is slated to reach as high as 55% by 2022.
Despite its growing popularity as an ecommerce trend, however, voice commerce to date remains in its very early stages. This makes it a wonderful opportunity for businesses to find new avenues to grow. Voice commerce is non-visual – it works by customers finding a product through its verbal description, which is then matched to physical descriptions of other products. Retailers must thus ensure that their product descriptions are up to date, include all the latest and most popular buzzwords. This will help their products get matched with customers’ verbal descriptions faster.
#5. Mobile Stores
Of all the technological advancements that are credited for the growth in the popularity of ecommerce, mobiles take up the top position. Smartphones, with their ease of access and applications, have literally put ecommerce in the hands of people. This has given internet sales a strong boost. According to Statista, sales made through mobiles went from increasing by 15% in 2019 to over 60% in 2020. Such a strong figure clearly indicates mobile shopping as a strong and steady trend for ecommerce. With millennials and GenZ entering the main part of the spending force, this figure is bound to increase as time passes.
While mobile shopping isn’t the newest of concepts, its sudden surge in terms of popularity certainly is. This makes it pretty much a priority for any business to make sure that it offers users a comfortable and intuitive user experience. For starters, retailers should ensure that both their websites and their ecommerce stores are optimized to be viewed on mobile devices. They should also ensure that the content and design of the website matches with the current algorithm. Finally, if they have applications, they must update them regularly, and keep them free from bugs and glitches. Doing these will help retailers ensure that they are making the best of one of the fastest-evolving ecommerce trends.
#6. StayAtHome Movement
Like it or hate it, you cannot ignore it. That is the effect that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had on internet shopping. The novel coronavirus, which almost no one saw coming, has started what is set to become one of the most long-lasting trends for ecommerce. As most of the world has gone into lockdown mode, and most people are quarantined in their homes, the rise in orders has risen very sharply. While this development itself is not surprising considering the context of the pandemic, the figures certainly are. Ecommerce mogul Amazon itself, for instance, has so far seen a rise in revenue worth $24 billion, courtesy of more and more people adopting ecommerce channels as their primary source.
Most experts agree that while the coronavirus will pass, the impact caused by the pandemic on ecommerce will not. With people getting more comfortable with ecommerce and buying everything from prepared food to 3D furniture online, there will be a much larger inclination towards shopping over the internet. This means that existing ecommerce retailers should up their game to make themselves as efficient as possible. This also gives a chance to struggling businesses, especially those that operate mainly through brick-and-mortar stores to pivot and reinvent themselves.
#7. Second-Hand Items
Speaking about one of the most surprising ecommerce trends ever seen, the sale of second-hand goods has taken the world of online shopping by storm. “Re-commerce,” as it is often dubbed, allows both buyers and sellers to purchase and sell goods that are old in age, but great in form and function. People are choosing to go second hand for all kinds of reasons, from the aesthetic quality of old products such as furniture and budget-friendliness to environmental concerns and minimalist outlook. This also allows sellers to capitalize on products that were previously useless for all intents and purposes.
Quite unsurprisingly, the bigger players are already capitalizing on this up-and-coming ecommerce trend. Take Poshmark, for instance, which now has a dedicated section for second-hand goods. Social media is not far behind, with Facebook Marketplace, which has huge demands for similar products. This clearly proves re-commerce to be a lucrative opportunity for businesses at any level. Those starting out can build a niche for themselves, while those in their more later stages can find new avenues to grow theirs. All in all, if a retailer can arrange to sell goods that can be returned and resold without compromising their quality, they should go for it.
#8. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
With mobile shopping becoming a top trend in ecommerce, it is now a necessity for retailers to optimize their e-stores and websites to create a fulfilling user experience. This is easier said than done, however, when one has to create separate designs for applications and mobile web browsers while maintaining speed and functionality. It makes managing things difficult for small-scale retailers who operate on tighter budgets. The solution? Progressive web apps. This is a special kind of technology that allows e-tailers to maintain the look and feel of a native mobile app in web browsers.
The technology behind PWAs itself is not new – tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter have been using it for a while. Its evolution as one of the best ecommerce trends, however, is fairly new as more and more online stores are opting for it. After all, utilizing them means creating a richer web browser experience without compromising on content or functionality. It also helps that it costs fairly less, as the development from scratch is not required. Ecommerce stores, especially those with layered CRM and ERP systems, or complicated content formats can and should easily take advantage of these.
#9. Personalized Shopping Experiences
Customers today have different needs when it comes to their ideal online shopping experience. Given the ease of access they now have thanks to visual search, mobile shopping, and social media-driven ecommerce marketing, customers today crave a more personalized experience. The more tailored it appears to them, the more it is appealing. This emerging trend of ecommerce has been verified by both shoppers and marketers. According to a Bazaarvoice report, over 50% of shoppers had a strong preference for personalized experiences. On the other hand, an Evergage report stated that over 74% of marketers believe personalization to be a pivoting point for their business.
The logic behind this ecommerce trend is simple — the more personalized the experience, the more attracted the customer will be to the brand. Retailers must, therefore, make it a point to offer the best in the industry. There are several tactics that can go a long way in ensuring this. This includes (but is not limited to) offering discounts, adding high-quality content, social media engagement, and adding informed recommendations. Marketers can also get more innovative to include blended in-store and online experiences or offer value-added services.
#10. The Use Of CGI for Product Imagery
One of the biggest requirements of ecommerce stores today is reliability. If they do not come across as authentic in the quality of their products and services, they will not be successful. In the world of online shopping, the success of a business lies greatly upon the quality of the imagery. The growing trend for ecommerce in terms of imagery now lies in CGI photos. These images, which are fully rendered virtually, are realistic and can be viewed virtually from all angles just as in a real product. This enhances its reliability and authenticity in the eyes of the customer.
When customers see a business use CGI in their catalogs with confidence, they automatically think that the retailer is tech-savvy and progressive. CGI also happens to be simpler and easier on the wallet. For instance, if a furniture store wants to use CGI for its products, all it has to do is submit a few photos to the studio. CG visualization artists can then easily render photorealistic images with high-end qualities such as 3D animation and 360-degree view. There are several studios that offer such high-end services at very affordable rates.
The above-mentioned ecommerce trends clearly prove online shopping is definitely here to stay. With more consumers opting to buy virtually rather than in stores, ecommerce is set to soar high. In a world that is always super-competitive, it is essential for businesses to analyze these trends and adopt them into their growth strategy. The earlier and faster they can do this, the better is their chance of succeeding as a thriving online seller.
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