Why do business owners turn to us for application development? All possible reasons, from the desire to increase sales to raise the profile of their business, can be combined into one: everyone wants a better future for their projects.
It is the future of e-commerce that we will discuss in the final, bonus article of our How to: E-Commerce section. What expects online retail in the nearest and remote future? What will the rapid development of the e-commerce market lead to? And for how long more will online sales be relevant?
The Era of Marketplaces
In 2021, it is not enough to talk about competition among branded stores alone. They all end up with a common problem: the dominance of marketplaces that hinder the development of smaller market players.
More than half (54%) of all online purchases are made on marketplaces. It was found that on such sites, buyers are looking not for a product of a specific brand, but for a product category itself. That being said, a request on the marketplace would more likely sound as “electric kettle” and “jeans” instead of, for example, “Braun kettle” and “Levi’s jeans”. This is because the marketplace allows the buyer to compare many similar options and choose the most suitable one in terms of price or other parameters.
So, what is the future of e-commerce? The position of branded stores will probably get more problematic. And so that the buyer does not prefer the marketplace to your small store, you need to offer them not only a product, but a unique shopping experience. It is product personalization and brand with a story behind it.
How Can Branded Stores Survive
Storytelling has largely grown in recent years. Marketers have long understood that people are attracted by a well-thought-out brand concept and proper positioning. Storytelling is a powerful marketing tool designed to evoke emotion and a strong association with a product. Consumers go to branded online stores not only for a product, but also for its story, to which they feel their involvement, and original presentation.
As a brand, you need to offer unique customization options. In other words, individualize the product for the needs of buyers: for example, offer them to add their initials on the piece, allow them to choose the color of the item or part of it. Individualization of the product strongly affects the buyer’s psychology: while selecting the configuration to suit their needs and preferences, the buyer already begins to feel like the owner of the piece. A product made considering the preferences of the consumer is of the greatest value for the latter; consequently, they will be ready to pay more for such an item.
Of course, the ability to offer customization of goods will require additional time and expenses. But this is what will ensure customer loyalty. Anyway, there are marketplaces for everything else.
We expect the further development of the latter, but brand stores will live on.
Voice and Photo Search
As we speak, we are witnessing overall computerization and simplification of sales. Purchases are made in one click, more and more stores are integrating voice assistants and photo search on their sites and mobile applications. We anticipate even more extensive use of these tools in the future.
Voice commerce is the e-commerce future. It wins the love of users because it allows them to save time searching for the right product: you can literally find it on the run. Photo search photo allows customers to find the product that most closely matches the one they are looking for.
Speaking of computerization, we cannot fail to mention chatbots, which are widely used in online stores. Instead of hiring a consultant, many business owners opt for an automated assistant. And despite its possible imperfections, this trend is also not planning to decline.
At the same time, robots have long gone beyond online. For example, the world's largest marketplace Amazon uses robots to transport goods inside its huge warehouses.
The question of ethics may arise since robotization of all spheres of life, not sales alone, deprives people of jobs and takes on a significant part of their tasks. One needs to understand that this is inevitable in our days: one can keep up with progress only using modern technological developments.
Automation eliminates the human factor from processes and, accordingly, speeds them up. In the future, you will deal with automated systems all the time, including when shopping.
AI, Machine Learning, Big Data
Technologies for collecting and processing data will not go away as well. Machine learning and big data will become key companions for online retailers and shoppers. Artificial intelligence performs processes that would take a huge amount of time for a person very quickly, making its abandonment almost impossible.
For example, if an online store offers a user a product they might like based on their past purchase history, this is a sure sign of using artificial intelligence and machine learning. Personalized recommendations encourage users to come back to the online store for customized offers and discounts. For the business owner, in their turn, it becomes easier to collect store statistics and plan future supplies.
The user appreciates the convenience that automation tools provide. Time is a valuable resource, and the buyer always welcomes the opportunity to avoid manual input or hour-long search for the desired product.
At the same time, as per the e-commerce experts predictions, the craving for good old social interaction is growing in proportion to the general automation and computerization of online commerce. This does not mean that you need to give up all the tools that make life easier, but you should give the user a chance to feel their importance to you.
Take the trouble to build strong, lasting relationships. Create a feedback form with the consumer, thanks to which they can ask questions and express their opinion. Do not leave their messages unanswered.
Beautiful and descriptive photos in the catalog always draw the attention of buyers. This has long been known and widely used in e-commerce. Photographers use a variety of tricks to present a product in the best possible way: with the help of special angles, professional lighting, and decorations. However, modern problems require modern solutions, and photos alone are not enough for sophisticated buyers.
Advanced online stores are gradually introducing 3D models of their products. This allows the buyer to evaluate the product from all sides and get a complete picture of its size and appearance.
Creating 3D models of goods undoubtedly requires more effort than just photographing them. But be sure that the models will impress potential buyers and push them to purchase. Practice shows that this trend will only gain momentum in the future. Selling quality goods is not enough anymore: you also need to present them properly, emphasizing their strengths.
Feel free to experiment with augmented reality (AR) technology. Why not allow the user to try clothes on or figure out how a piece of furniture will look in their apartment?
These features will become extremely popular, especially for large products, and be at the head of trends for the future of e-commerce.
Easy Payment Options
It will become, if it has not already, easier to pay for goods online. A TransUnion study showed that fewer millennials are using credit cards to pay for online purchases and services. Digital payment systems replace plastic cards. More and more mobile systems like Apple Pay will emerge. This suggests that today's consumers prefer to keep all the necessary tools and data in one place: in their smartphones.
Read also Why does e-commerce need a mobile app?
Online store owners are willing to go to great lengths to attract visitors and stimulate purchases. The opportunity to get an installment payment plan or a deferred payment, the so-called BNPL (Buy-Now-Pay-Later Payment), is becoming more and more available. Previously, these options extended mainly to large goods: household appliances, furniture. Today and in the future, we predict the possibility of such payments for goods of almost all categories.
SolveIt's Expert Predicts the Future of E-Commerce
Since we, the SolveIt team, are responsible for taking on various projects in the field of e-commerce, I can certainly note that the development and improvement of technologies will directly impact the e-commerce industry in the future.
Those who do not ignore the latest technological trends and implement the recent know-how into their mobile applications remain the market leaders. This trend will keep intensifying, so a business needs to move forward and update its software on time, adding new and usable functionality.
Nowadays, the number of online shoppers is constantly growing. Consider this: since the coronavirus pandemic onset, about 150 million people have made their first online purchase.
Having experienced convenient, fast, and safe shopping once, the customer will be eager to repeat it. And I am sure that it is a high-quality and modern application that plays an important role in increasing the customer retention rate. This indicator is known to be one of the most important in commerce.
— Alexandra Vilkovskaya, Sales Manager at SolveIt.
What about ecology? As we know, since 2019, retail business keeps moving online at a fast pace: it is convenient, fast, and affordable during the pandemic. In addition, online shopping is constantly expanding and becoming borderless: thanks to advanced global logistics and digital progress, goods can be delivered almost anywhere and from anywhere.
However, globalization has its downside. Along with it, the number of materials used for packaging is increasing: these are still mainly cardboard boxes, plastic bags, and non-biodegradable air film. The already tense environmental situation is getting worse. E-commerce predictions make little sense if the planet is being ruined, don’t they?
We hope that more retailers will use recyclable packaging materials in the future, but we cannot expect significant improvements yet.
No one can say with certainty what the future of retail will be like and how e-commerce will change in 2022. However, stable trends allow imagining the vector of its development in the foreseeable future.
With the rise in e-commerce popularity, the cost of advertising on retail platforms and social media will continue to increase.
Experts predict the future of e-commerce to be highly competitive. Branded stores will be focused on personalized offers, as global marketplaces will be here to stay. And delivering high-level services alone is not enough anymore: competent positioning and marketing drive today’s trade.
In conclusion, let us stress again that the world is changing rapidly. Businesses need to respond to these changes instantly to remain visible and relevant due to growing competition in the market and automation of all processes.
P.S. We at SolveIt will gladly guide you into this future and help make it brighter for you. Contact us for more!