In the past decade, there has been a lot of evolution in the e-commerce industry. Now every business, whether big or small, is making a presence in the e-commerce market. E-commerce has revolutionized the shopping experience of the customers and is still evolving to meet the changing needs of the people. At its inception, e-commerce was fairly limited in its features & capabilities. But not anymore. Whether it is performance, design customization, or complex features & functionalities, these changes are continuously taking the world of e-commerce by storm.
The e-commerce market size has been continuously on the rise since the last decade. In 2014, it was $1.34 trillion and reached $2.84 trillion in 2018. This is expected to cross $4 trillion by 2020 and reach $4.88 trillion in 2021. The fastest growth in retail e-commerce between 2018 and 2022 is expected in India and Indonesia. The number of online e-commerce lies in the range of 12-24 million globally. In this hugely competitive market, one needs to stay ahead by adopting early trends.
Not surprisingly, 2020 has already given us the signals an era of transition in e-commerce. In this article, we have jotted down the trends you can see in e-commerce in 2020.
Cloud Hosted E-commerce Platforms
Cloud computing technology has provided huge benefits to e-commerce in many different ways. Cloud-hosted e-commerce platforms can save both time and resources. Let’s know-how in detail…
Scalability is one of the greatest perks of cloud-hosted e-commerce platforms. Cloud hosting speeds up the scalability of the platform. By cloud hosting, you can easily add-up or delete the servers as per your requirements. You also need to pay only for what you use in the cloud-based hosting. You can scale up the hosting when you require a promotional event and can downgrade the scale when it is over so that you can even out your hosting costs with the growth of your brand.
Corrupt software, power surges, hard-drive crash, and other disasters can wipe out your precious data if your database isn’t secured, but this is not a case with the cloud-based e-commerce platform. Cloud-based storage provides control over the data you want to save and where you want to store.
No doubt, price is one of the most important factors why companies are choosing cloud-based storage. As you only need to pay what you use.
File Sharing is another reason why e-commerce companies are storing data on the cloud. Using cloud storage, companies can share data without using a virtual private network.
Headless commerce is a CMS that stores manages and delivers content without requiring a front-end delivery layer. In a headless platform, the front-end, which is mostly a theme or a template, is removed, leaving all on the backend. The developers use APIs to deliver products, blog posts, or reviews to any device, while front-end developers can focus on how to represent that content using any framework they wish. In simple words, headless e-commerce is developed for the IoT age.
In the headless commerce system, the requests are passed between the presentation and application layers through the web services or API calls. Let’s understand in easy words: when a customer clicks on the “Buy Now” button on his device, the presentation layer of the e-commerce platform sends an API call to the application layer in order to process the order. The application layers then sends an API call to the presentation layer to show the customer the status of the order.
Flexible front-end development
As there is no predefined front-end platform, the front-end developers can create UX from scratch, which meets all the business requirements. They don’t need to constantly worry about modifying databases in the backend, as they only need to do is to make an API call. The only con is that the frontend developers have to begin from scratch for everything.
A headless CMS will propel your content anywhere and everywhere i.e., delivering your products, product videos, or blogs to any channel.
You can do rapid updates without much configuration in your back-end system. The changes can be easily done on the frontend to coincide with the speed of consumer technology.
Headless e-commerce supports new technology when they arise. This is damn good for new user experiences. Thus, the marketing team can easily roll out new designs, portfolios, brands, and divisions.
A headless e-commerce platform must have an API that makes easy to integrate & communicate with other platforms. You can add your business to any new device, expand the opportunities, and outreach your customers at the same time.
It has been expected that by 2021, mobile commerce will generate more than 50% of the online retail sales revenue. Some of the benefits of progressive web applications:
Capture a wide range of audience
PWAs are highly responsive to fit the size of the different screens, whether it is a mobile, tablet, or computer screen. As they are easily accessible to a wide range of audiences and easily sharable through a link, more people adopt them than downloading an app.
Reduce cost & time of development
There is a requirement of own development as well as maintenance in the native app. And you have to create both iOS and Android app to reach the audience, while there is no such need in the progressive web applications.
Speed & accessibility
As per a report, 53% of users leave an application if it takes more than 3 seconds in loading it, i.e., speed is the key point in business. PWAs tend to be super fast as they employ modern web technologies and frameworks.
Because of the above-mentioned benefits to the user, there are higher chances of customer conversion in the PWAs. For example, Alibaba saw a 76% increase in conversions across different browsers after introducing PWAs.
Business Intelligence (BI) is the conjunction of best-in-class technologies and strategies that gives the merchants important information about their business & patrons. They can store raw data, process it, and get relevant, meaningful information. In addition, it is also helping businesses to be more updated and get taking better decisions. A lot of e-commerce applications have taken the leverage of BI’s ability to evaluate useful data. The major benefits of business intelligence services are:
Business Information for E-commerce
Timely and accurately available data is the key factor for boosting up your e-commerce business. Many BI providers develop matrices, charts, or any other easy representation to present data that can aid in decision making. The commonly required information is top performers, product analysis, marketing reports, sales reports, inventory reports, margin & trend analysis.
BI boosts up the sales in e-commerce by providing information like the demands of products, trending products, etc. The merchants can utilize this data in formulating their sales strategies. It also helps in exploring new business opportunities. It also helps in enabling your platform efficient enough to hand huge traffic at the time of sale.
Do you know that developing new customers is 6-7 times more costly in comparison to retaining the old patrons? BI provides you with potential reasons to know what makes your visitors leave your platform. It can be related to late shipments, site speed, checkout problems, returns, customer reviews, and complaints. The merchant can use this information to overcome the hurdles and provide better UX for converting customers.
Augmented Reality in e-commerce
There are many different ways that e-commerce store owners are employing AR or Augmented reality to provide a better user experience. As it provides the customer with in-depth experience, it can boost up the conversion rates and increase sales.
Augmented Reality employs mobile technology to layer new content over images of the real world. It is just like how movies use CGI to create things that don’t even exist. However, the difference is that AR happens in real-time. AS is easily accessible as the required technology, i.e., mobile, is readily available. The advantages of augmented reality in e-commerce are:
Engaging Customer Experience
AR grants customers to view the product in the form of a model they can interact within the same manner they would if they were in a physical store. This gives the shoppers a better feel and how they fit into their needs.
Customization and Modification
Many people like to explore numerous choices and preferences before making a final purchase. With AR, customers can now experience this virtually from the solace of their residence. They can change colors, design patterns, and a lot can be explored with AR.
Shopping Time & Testing
Nowadays, many e-commerce stores provide a guide video on several products to help the customer understand the product. With AR, not only can they interact with the product, but it also can explore its different functionalities as well. As per a study, an online shopper spends roughly 2 minutes on the site, but with AR, this time increases, and it has been shown that the more time a customer spends in a store, the more likely they are to make a purchase.
Virtual Reality in E-commerce
Virtual Reality or VR is an artificial 3-D environment created by different technologies. It is presented in a way to the users that compels them to suspend their belief and believe that they are in another physical surroundings. It is becoming increasingly important as a marketing tool for businesses. Introducing VR to e-commerce can really provide immense benefits to the merchants as well as customers.
Mimic Physical Settings
It is a truth that online stores can’t offer the same experience that brick & mortar stores can and lack a personal experience like you can’t try out items like clothing. However, in an online store, you order blindly as you have to analyze by just through size charts and images.
But now VR is becoming the game players here. It provides customers with a more personalized experience. The customers can wander through a virtual store instead of surfing through just a product list. However, the innovation still lacks the physical sensation & smells, but still, it comes to pretty close.
Stick your customer to your shop
In a physical store, the customer may not abandon his cart for which he has worked so hard, but on an online store, he will. The average shopping cart abandonment rate for e-commerce is nearly 70%. Other than the customization or personalization changes, VR can play a big role. VR can offer an immense experience like 360-degree video capabilities and interactive content.
In virtual reality, the speed to market gets increased. In fact, rather than marketing a physical store, virtual showrooms or products are created in confidentiality. Competing businesses can’t see what you are doing & try to beat you to the punch.
AI and Machine learning in eCommerce
AI can help the e-commerce owners by making future predictions about sales, provide better support to the customer, and retarget customers who got away. AI helps in providing the customers with a seamless, easier, more convenient, more personalized, and faster experience than ever before. Let’s know how AI is boosting e-commerce:
24/7 e-commerce experience
Your e-commerce store is always open. This was initially a problem who will respond to a midnight customer query. In the end, you have to hire a person to manage queries which of-course increases the business expenditure. But the AI chatbots are an answer to this. They have the ability to respond to customers instantly in real-time, and as they are using machine learning to provide satisfactory, relevant answers specifically.
Machine learning has the ability to accurately predict what a customer requires and then show the suggestions to fit their needs. Voice search has also played an important role, in fact, as per a research, the voice search can overtake half of all searches by 2020.
Better Inventory Management
While overstocking, you lose your cash, and in understock, you miss your sales. It is just like a seesaw for e-commerce platforms on which you have to make a balance. Inventory management is really a pain for every e-commerce owner. AI can help with this. It can forecast future demands and allows you to control your stock with ease, and also ensures that you know more about your customers.
A better understanding of customer behavior
If you can’t understand your customers, you are losing them. AI increases the loyalty of your brand by understanding your customers way better than you can think of. It stores and analyzes your customers’ data, which you can use in the future for making strategies and better decisions.
Voice Processing in E-commerce or Voice Commerce
Voice processing in e-commerce or voice commerce is a technology in which the end-users don’t have to rely on hardware and allows them to use voice commands to search and purchase products online. Customers are choosing voice shopping because of many benefits like:
- It’s hands-free
- You can do other things while doing voice shopping
- Faster processing and results
A customer can purchase using voice technology by using a mobile device or a smart speaker and a virtual assistant. The popular smart speakers using voice-controlled virtual assistants are Amazon Alexa and Google Home (Google Assistant-powered). A lot of companies have taken the leverage of voice processing in their e-commerce business. The main benefits are:
The foremost advantage of voice processing is that it is easy to use. You just need to activate a device with voice assistance and your own voice. You can do shopping while cooking, working in the office, other multi-tasking, and even while driving.
In voice commerce, you don’t need to log in or fill the personal detail form on the site for doing shopping. Thus, it saves your valuable time and provides much ease.
Personalize Buying Experiences
As voice commerce is quite easier than the traditional way of online shopping, people tend to interact more with these devices. The devices gather a lot of data from their users and then use this data to provide a better personalized experience. The companies can also collect information on the behavior of consumers, preferences, and other historical data to create powerful marketing strategies.
Image Processing in E-commerce
The invention of digital cameras, particularly those built of current smartphones, has led to an exponential surge in the data of new digital images and videos on a daily basis. Henceforth, business are required to find ways to leverage these images and use them for delivering better and smarter services to customers. Image processing is like any other technology which has the ability to identify places, people, objects, buildings, business logos, and many other varieties. Here are a few images of why image processing is important in E-commerce:
Web Design Evolution
Responsive Web Design, in which a single website automatically adapts the screen and resolution of the user’s device, plays a big role. It adds complexity in selecting the proper images for delivering them dynamically after identify from where the request is coming. Image processing makes it quite simple.
Customers access e-commerce stores using many different devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets. You need to deliver high-quality images for each of these devices for a great shopping experience. However, resizing and reformatting images for all possible device types, screen sizes, and resolutions can be really hectic, if done manually. However, image processing makes it significantly faster and more efficient.
Performance & SEO
With greater quality, the size of the image also gets an increase. In fact, nearly 60% of the weight of the page is due to the high quality of images. Hence one needs to reduce the size of images for better speed. Image processing automates the process of compressing images, and changing the format was necessary to achieve faster page loads without degrading quality. Improved site speed also helps in better rankings and SEO.
A chatbot is a computer program that imitates conversation with users to provide some sort of service. The chatbots in e-commerce have the following purpose like completing buyers’ purchase, recommend products to the buyers, and provide customer support. Chatbots have helped the e-commerce owners to resolve the customer queries at any time. Here are the following ways chatbots are making the shopping experience smoother:
A customer feels quite comfortable while purchasing an item if his queries or doubts are getting resolve instantly. A lot of customers abandon the e-commerce site if their queries are not getting resolved. Here chatbot can be a major player, provided the conversation has been designed meticulously, understanding all the potential queries.
Act as a billing agent
Chatbots have the ability to handle your billing with high efficiency and accuracy. Customers can browse through the products available and add them to the cart and make payment with due flexibility.
Act as a virtual assistant
Mostly cancellation and refund related processes are cumbersome, and they can cause stress to any vendor. However, it should be handled with scrupulousness as every customer expects the return for the product they were not satisfied, and treating them in an improper way would add fuel to the fire. You can employ chatbot for this delicate task as it can perform without any mistake and frustration.
Chatbots can also be utilized for the push notifications feature. Chatbots respond quickly when your customers respond to your offers or product recommendations.
A Last note…
It is an amazing feeling to be in the e-commerce business, and the best thing is that there seems to be a system behind success. You need to be updated about upcoming features, left obsolete designs & features, and need to update better customer experience to stay ahead from your competitors. A quarter of 2020 is coming to an end, take leverage of the above-mentioned to cater to your customer needs to the fullest.