E-commerce has come a long way since the first online transaction took place in the 1990s. Over the years, we've seen significant growth in the industry, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Experts predict the global e-commerce market will reach a staggering $6.5 trillion by 2023.
As more and more consumers turn to online shopping, businesses must keep up with the latest trends to remain competitive.
1. Personalisation is Key
Personalisation matters to consumers. A whopping 77% of them havpe chosen, recommended, or paid more for a brand that delivers a personalised service or experience. And it's not just lip service – 83% of consumers are willing to share their data to create a more personalised experience. This shows that businesses prioritising personalisation can drive loyalty and retention and gain a competitive edge in today's market.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the key technologies driving personalisation in e-commerce. AI algorithms analyse customer data such as past purchases, search history, and demographic information to create personalised product recommendations, pricing, and marketing messages. AI can also personalise website and app interfaces, such as displaying product categories and search results based on the customer's interests.
For example, Amazon's product recommendation engine uses machine learning algorithms to suggest products based on a customer's browsing and purchase history. The recommendations become more accurate over time as the AI system learns more about the customer's preferences.
Product recommendations are a critical part of personalisation in e-commerce. According to a study by Accenture, 65% of consumers are more likely to purchase if a retailer recommends options based on their purchase history.
Retailers can use various techniques to create personalised product recommendations, such as collaborative, content-based, and hybrid filtering. Collaborative filtering recommends products based on what other customers with similar interests have purchased, while content-based filtering recommends products based on the customer's browsing history and product descriptions. Hybrid filtering combines both approaches to provide more accurate recommendations.
Customised User Experience
Personalisation is not limited to product recommendations. E-commerce businesses can use customer data to customise the entire user experience, from website design to marketing messages. For example, a company can display different product categories or promotions based on the customer's geographic location, weather, or time of day.
A study by Epsilon found that personalised emails are 26% more likely to be opened and studies have shown that revenue is 5.7 times higher in emails that employ personalisation than generic emails. This highlights the importance of customised marketing messages in e-commerce.
Personalizing your post-purchase emails can lead to a better customer experience and higher ROI. At Bigblue, our customers' post-purchase emails have an average open rate of 75%. These emails can be a great opportunity to share sponsorship offers, discount coupons, and even preview upcoming sales with your customers.
In conclusion, personalisation is crucial in e-commerce to meet the expectations of modern consumers. AI-powered personalisation, recommendations, and customised user experience are some of the top trends in this area for 2024. E-commerce businesses prioritising personalisation will be better positioned to retain customers and increase sales in the highly competitive online marketplace.
2. Mobile Optimisation is a Must
In the age of smartphones and tablets, a mobile optimisation is no longer an option for e-commerce businesses; it's a necessity. Mobile devices have become the primary means of accessing the internet, and this trend is only set to continue with the rollout of 5G networks.
Mobile optimisation starts with designing websites and apps that are optimised for smaller screens. This includes creating responsive designs that adapt to different screen sizes, simplifying navigation, and optimising page load times. A study by Google found that 53% of mobile users abandon sites that take more than three seconds to load.
Interactive content is also becoming increasingly popular on mobile devices. E-commerce businesses can use interactive features such as quizzes, product configurators, and virtual try-ons to engage customers and provide a more personalised shopping experience.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a technology that allows websites to load quickly on mobile devices by stripping down the code and only loading essential elements. Google prioritises AMP pages in its search results, which can give e-commerce businesses a competitive advantage. A study by Google found that AMP pages load four times faster and use 10 times less data than non-AMP pages.
Mobile Payment Options
Mobile payment options are also essential for e-commerce businesses. Customers expect to be able to pay for their purchases using their mobile devices, whether it's through mobile wallets like Apple Pay or Google Wallet, or through mobile-optimised checkout processes. A study by eMarketer found that mobile payments are expected to reach $1.9 trillion globally by 2025.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are another technology that is gaining traction in the e-commerce industry. PWAs are websites that function like mobile apps, providing a seamless user experience on both desktop and mobile devices. They offer the advantages of mobile apps, such as offline access and push notifications, without the need for customers to download an app from an app store.
In conclusion, mobile optimisation will be a must for e-commerce businesses in 2024. Mobile-friendly design, AMP pages, mobile payment options, and PWAs are some of the top trends in this area. With mobile devices becoming the primary means of accessing the internet, e-commerce businesses that fail to optimise for mobile will be left behind. By prioritising mobile optimisation, businesses can improve the user experience, increase engagement, and drive more sales.
3. AI and Automation will Drive Growth
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation have already revolutionised many industries, and e-commerce is no exception. In fact, e-commerce businesses increasingly leverage AI and automation to streamline operations, personalise the customer experience, and drive growth.
Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
One of AI's most visible applications in e-commerce is using chatbots and virtual assistants. Chatbots can handle basic customer inquiries, such as tracking shipments and processing returns, without the need for human intervention. On the other hand, virtual assistants use natural language processing to provide more personalised assistance to customers.
Another application of AI in e-commerce is predictive analytics. By analysing vast amounts of data, AI algorithms can predict customer behavior and preferences, allowing businesses to personalise the customer experience and target customers with relevant offers. Big data analytics and machine learning are key technologies that enable predictive analytics.
Automation is also driving growth in e-commerce by automating marketing processes such as email campaigns and social media advertising. By using AI to analyse customer data, businesses can create highly targeted and personalised campaigns that drive engagement and sales.
A study by Juniper Research found that AI will save e-commerce businesses over $8 billion annually by 2022. The study also found that AI-powered chatbots will be responsible for over $112 billion in retail sales by 2023.
In conclusion, AI and automation will continue to be key drivers of growth in the e-commerce industry in 2024. Chatbots and virtual assistants, predictive analytics, and automated marketing are just a few AI and automation applications in e-commerce. By leveraging these technologies, businesses can improve the customer experience, drive engagement and sales, and reduce costs. As AI technology evolves, e-commerce businesses that fail to adopt it risk falling behind their competitors.
4. Social Commerce is on the Rise
Social commerce (or social selling), integrating social media and e-commerce, is becoming increasingly popular among consumers. With social commerce platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, businesses can leverage the power of social media to drive sales and engage with customers.
Instagram Shopping has become the go-to destination for consumers. They have the opportunity to do social shopping, discovering new brands and buy products on the platform while completing purchases in a hassle-free way. With Instagram Shopping, merchants can tag products in their posts, create an online storefront, and streamline the entire buyer journey from discovery to checkout in just a few simple steps.
What's more, 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business account, which means that Instagram Shopping has become an effective way for businesses to reach potential customers and make sales. This feature helps businesses to showcase their products to a wider audience and provides an easy way for consumers to purchase them directly from the app. With this kind of reach, it's no surprise that Instagram Shopping is quickly becoming one of the most popular social commerce options for merchants.
Facebook Marketplace has quickly become a go-to platform for consumers looking to purchase products online. In fact, according to a June 2020 eMarketer survey conducted by Bizrate Insights, 18.3% of Facebook users had made a purchase on the platform. To tap into this trend, Facebook has rolled out Facebook Shops, its own in-house e-commerce platform. This feature enables businesses to showcase and sell their products directly on the platform, making Facebook a one-stop-shop for learning about a product and making a purchase.
In addition to Facebook Shops, the platform is also known for its lengthy discussions in comment threads, particularly on product pages. Enthusiasts often share their experiences and thoughts on brands' official Facebook pages, fostering social engagement and creating substantive discussions that are key to social selling. With these features, Facebook Marketplace is an ideal platform for businesses looking to reach a wider audience and increase their social commerce sales.
TikTok Shopping is a new feature that is currently being tested in select markets. It allows businesses to link products to their TikTok videos, making it easy for users to shop without leaving the app. The feature is expected to be a game-changer for businesses looking to reach a younger audience.
In addition to these social commerce features, businesses can also leverage mobile optimisation, influencer marketing, user-generated content, live streaming, and interactive content to drive sales and engagement on social media. Mobile optimisation is key, as over 90% of social media users access these platforms on their mobile devices.
Influencer marketing campaigns involve partnering with social media influencers to promote products to their followers. User-generated content, such as customer reviews and photos, can be a powerful tool for building trust and driving sales. Live streaming and interactive content, such as polls and quizzes, can also be effective for engaging with customers and driving sales.
A study by eMarketer found that social commerce sales in the US are expected to reach $36.09 billion in 2021, up 35.8% from the previous year. The study also found that social commerce sales are expected to account for 4.3% of all retail e-commerce sales in the US in 2021.
In conclusion, social commerce is on the rise and offers a great opportunity for businesses to engage with customers and drive sales on social networks. With features such as Instagram Shopping, Facebook Marketplace, and TikTok Shopping, businesses can leverage the power of social media to reach a larger audience and drive sales. By leveraging mobile optimisation, influencer campaigns, user-generated content, live streaming, and interactive content, businesses can create a powerful social commerce strategy that drives engagement and sales.
5. Sustainability and Ethical Practices Matter
As consumers become more eco-conscious, sustainable e-commerce and ethical practices are becoming increasingly important in the world of online shopping. In fact, a 2020 survey conducted by IBM found that 57% of consumers were willing to change their shopping habits to help reduce their environmental impact. This has led to the rise of eco-friendly products, green commerce, and the responsible supply chain.
One of the most effective ways for e-commerce businesses to reduce their carbon footprint is by using eco-friendly packaging. This includes using biodegradable materials, sustainable transportation, and renewable energy in logistics. By using sustainable packaging, businesses can help reduce waste and minimise their environmental impact. For example, sustainable fashion brand Patagonia has committed to using 100% renewable energy in their supply chain by 2025. The brand is committed to banning single-use plastic from its shipments and their recyclable packaging is made from recycled and biodegradable materials.
Ethical sourcing is another important aspect of sustainable e-commerce. This involves ensuring that products are produced in an environmentally responsible and socially responsible manner. This includes using fair trade practices, sustainable agriculture, and upcycling. Brands like TOMS and Warby Parker have built their business models around social responsibility, providing glasses and shoes to people in need while also focusing on sustainable sourcing and manufacturing practices.
Socially Responsible Business Practices
In addition to ethical sourcing, socially responsible business practices are also essential for sustainable e-commerce. This involves taking steps to reduce waste and increase energy efficiency, such as implementing a closed-loop system or using carbon-neutral shipping. It also includes green marketing, which highlights the environmental benefits of a product or service. For example, online retailer Zappos has partnered with environmentally conscious brands like Allbirds and Rothy's to offer sustainable footwear options to its customers.
In conclusion, sustainability and ethical practices are no longer just a trend but a necessity for e-commerce businesses. By embracing sustainable e-commerce practices like eco-friendly packaging, ethical sourcing, and socially responsible business practices, businesses can reduce their environmental impact and appeal to the growing number of environmentally conscious consumers.
6. The Importance of Omnichannel
Seamless Customer Experience
Omnichannel is becoming increasingly important in e-commerce, as it enables businesses to provide a seamless and consistent customer experience across all channels. This means that customers can interact with a brand across various touchpoints and still receive the same level of personalisation, product information, and customer service. A seamless experience can increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, leading to increased sales and revenue.
Headless commerce enables businesses to provide a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. By decoupling the front-end and back-end of e-commerce platforms, headless commerce allows for more flexibility and customization in creating unique customer experiences. This approach empowers businesses to deliver personalized content and product recommendations across multiple channels, including mobile apps, social media, and voice assistants, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Multiple Sales Channels
Omnichannel also involves utilising multiple sales channels to reach customers wherever they are. This includes brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce platforms, marketplaces, social media, and mobile apps. Expanding sales channels enables businesses to broaden their product catalogue's reach and increase exposure to potential customers.
When it comes to physical retail, many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have been hesitant to invest in brick-and-mortar stores. However, the tide may be turning, as in 2022, 30% of brands considered increasing their retail presence. Only 48% of DNVBs are present in this sector (compared to 56% in wholesale). Those that have taken the plunge generate up to 40% of their turnover from physical sales. This shows that despite the rise of e-commerce, retail still plays a crucial role in many consumers' purchase journeys. By integrating their brick-and-mortar and online channels, businesses can provide a seamless shopping experience and offer customers more options for how and where to shop.
Integrated Data Analytics
To fully leverage the benefits of omnichannel, businesses need to track and analyse customer interactions across all touchpoints. This involves integrating data from various sources, including social media, email, website, mobile app, and in-store interactions.
Data analytics can provide insights into customer behavior, preferences, and purchase history, allowing businesses to offer personalised recommendations and promotions. For example, a customer who frequently purchases sustainable fashion products may receive targeted promotions and recommendations for new sustainable products.
In conclusion, a successful omnichannel strategy involves seamless integration, consistency, personalisation, and data analytics. By leveraging multiple sales channels and tracking customer interactions, businesses can provide a superior customer experience and increase sales and revenue. As e-commerce continues to grow, an omnichannel strategy will become even more critical to a business's success.