A wave of consumers have had to come to terms with digitisation and adapt to online shopping since the onset of the pandemic, and 40% say they won’t be going back. Retail eCommerce stores experienced a dramatic increase in sales due to the pandemic with nearly half of customers purchasing products online that they normally would buy in-store.
The global shift to online shopping has changed the way that eCommerce companies engage with consumers and stoked innovations that make the customer experience more engaging and enjoyable. Let’s talk about how pandemic-era advancements in eCommerce technology have changed retail sales forever.
How the pandemic changed retail sales
The UK saw an increase of 74% in online sales in 2021 and the US saw eCommerce growth accelerate by 10 years in 90 days at the beginning of 2020. No other industry has seen this amount of growth, especially during a time of economic hardship.
Social distancing restrictions caused many people to start working from home and doing most of their banking, online shopping, and entertainment online. Ecommerce not only provided a way for people to shop at home, but also provided many workers across the globe the opportunity to start a profitable side-gig to increase their incomes as the economy tanked.
Many people were able to quit their original jobs altogether in favor of online jobs. In fact, 75% of online workers are making just as much money working for themselves online as they did working traditional salary jobs. That kind of spending power has had a sizable impact on the evolution of eCommerce, even forcing businesses to implement in-store technology like NFC tags, QR codes, and digital window shopping.
Tech-driven trends in eCommerce
The shift toward eCommerce sales was not a pandemic fluke, either. Online retail sales went up 32.4% over the course of 2020, and has already gone up an additional 39% in 2021 even as social distancing requirements have decreased or ceased.
Although the economic landscape of the pandemic has been bleak, 35% of the working class in the US is made up of millennials, notorious for “killing” brick and mortar industries in favor of eCommerce and online services.
Surveys have shown that 64% of consumers find online browsing easier than shopping in a brick and mortar store, citing that it’s easier to find items that they like as well as having the ability to research reviews before making a purchase.
1 – Conversational Commerce
The utilization of chatbot and other AI technology simulates human-to-human conversation and provides consumers with instant solutions. Giving chatbots the ability to access key information about products and services as well creates a personalized experience for customers.
2 – Social Selling
Social platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok provide an in-app shopping experience that helps streamline eCommerce marketing and sales within single platforms. Since Pinterest first introduced its Shop tab in 2018, it’s seen an increase in sales of 356%, with Facebook and Instagram sales up nearly 200%, and TikTok seeing about 3x the amount of sales.
3 – Shoppable UGC (User Generated Content)
In addition to content marketing and social selling, some eCommerce retailers are taking the UGC approach to advertising. This method relies on effective customer experiences to drive sales and increase consumer trust.
4 – Mobile Wallet Functionality
In addition to being able to accept a variety of payment methods, enabling customers to pay with their eWallet or other mobile wallets helps eCommerce sales in a couple ways.
Not only does this help boost sales, it’s also extremely secure, enhancing online store’s ability to protect customer data. The number of people using eWallets to make payments went up from around 900 million at the beginning of the pandemic to 1.48 billion peak-pandemic, and this number is steadily increasing throughout 2021.
5 – AR/VR Shopping
One of the biggest challenges that eCommerce retailers face is the inability of customers to try on and experience products before making a purchase. With more consumers shopping online for goods like clothing and furniture, more are likewise interested in using AR/VR technology to shop.
6 – Analytics AI
AI helps eCommerce stores analyze their data and take action on those insights automatically, refining their target audiences and simplifying advertising methods. When it comes to identifying your target audience, you want to be as precise and confident as possible, and AI makes that happen. This is an important tip to remember when starting an online store or refining your existing sales methods.
7 – PWAs
Progressive Web Apps are websites that can be accessed from a browser directly with all the features of a native app. PWAs bring agility to online shoppers by engaging customers and making it easy to buy.
8 – Voice Search
More mobile users are becoming increasingly comfortable talking to their devices about queries. Voice shopping features are expected to increase to $40 billion by 2022. This technology works by making suggestions to customers based on their passed voice searches.
9 – Actionable Content
Content that goes beyond the average content marketing techniques by offering consumers helpful content that is relevant to their personal experiences helps brands connect with customers and create lasting relationships. A general digital experience doesn’t cut it for customers in 2021. A custom digital experience is crucial to building brand loyalty.
10 – Cognitive Supply Chain Management
Machine learning technology is helping eCommerce companies streamline their distribution and inventory management systems in ways that mitigate risks, increase performance and improve the quality of insights. The best part is that cognitive supply chain management technologies can do it all on their own with little to no human interaction.
11 – CRM integrations
Integrated customer relationship management platforms help eCommerce stores retain customers by automating and personalizing the marketing experience after they make a purchase. These integrations synchronize a large amount of consumer data to improve overall business efficiency, with 97% of marketers reporting positive impacts of using integrated CRM systems.
Consumer and eCommerce shopping trends that took off during the pandemic are likely to continue with the increased digital transformation of businesses in all industries. If in-store companies want to be able to compete with their online counterparts they will have to adapt to the changing consumer environment and increased expectations for digital experiences and quality customizations.
These eCommerce tech trends are defining the eCommerce landscape and as we move into 2022 and beyond, you can expect to see even more technological advancements taking center stage as eCommerce trends toward dominating retail sales in the future.