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14 Trends Shaping the Future of eCommerce

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14 Trends Shaping the Future of eCommerce

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Yuliia Buinova

August 17, 2022

In the coming years, eCommerce will experience the next wave of changes. In this article, you’ll find the most popular eCommerce predictions and future trends that will shape the new era of eCommerce.

Headless commerce

Since the beginning of time, traditional legacy eCommerce platforms, also known as monolith platforms, were the only choice for building an online store. These platforms operate as all-in-one systems. That means that the frontend and backend are heavily linked together in a coupled architecture. 

Monoliths restrict marketers from quickly introducing changes to the web store, causing them to fall behind their customer’s user expectations and lose conversions and revenue. This is where the headless commerce approach comes to the rescue.

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Headless commerce is part of the composable commerce approach in which eCommerce companies are free to select the perfect tech stack and arrange them into a unique composition that meets their unique business requirements. 

The headless commerce approach is based on the idea of separating the presentation layer (frontend/website) from the logic of the application (backend). This provides startup agility,  flexibility and scalability for even the most mature enterprises.

What other benefits does the headless commerce approach bring to the eCommerce business?

Since in headless commerce the frontend and backend exist independently there are no more interdependencies between these two layers. That gives businesses more freedom for creating and updating the presentation layer without interfering with the backend. Quick changes and constant iterations aimed at adapting the frontend to the ever changing customer needs and thus providing excellent customer experience is what gives headless commerce the absolute upper hand. 

Headless architecture is an approach that is in line with broader trends such as the microservices architecture that has been a lifeline for Netflix and Amazon. All of them have significantly moved away from complex solutions to microservices as they realized that monoliths were compromising their growth.

Last but not least, headless commerce helps companies to stay future-proof as they can plug and unplug third-party solutions (integrations) as their business demands.

Going composable brings numerous benefits that drive your customer satisfaction by: 

  • Enabling easier scaling and improved web performance 
  • Supporting mobile-first architecture 
  • Making upgrades quicker and safer 
  • Providing advanced personalization 
  • Delivering ultimate flexibility 

Read more about the benefits of headless commerce

A strong composable journey should start with a storefront as frontend drives customer experience. Download the eBook to learn more:

Frontend Drives Experience

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Focus on customer experience

Customer experience (CX) is the overall impression your customers have of your brand at all stages of their buying journey. 

In 2021, 44.5% of organizations worldwide revealed that they perceive customer experience (CX) as a primary competitive differentiator.

Source: Statista

COVID-19 pushed the retail industry into the digital world, looking for ways to offer its buyers rich and convenient shopping experiences that keep customers loyal in the crowded eCommerce world. Today the world of technologies is expanding, and online retail businesses are looking for ways to innovate and improve their customer experiences. 

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Customer experience is what increases conversion rates and ROI. Since the frontend is where the customer experience happens, prioritizing CX should be one of the main goals of the frontend. After all, a fast, mobile-first frontend drives an amazing CX and customer retention. 

To improve the customer experience of your eCommerce website you should consider the following:

  • Provide your customers with a lightning-fast mobile eCommerce experience.
  • Secure seamless omnichannel experiences with a mobile-optimized storefront (with PWA or native app)
  • Add product reviews for building transparent customer relations and loyalty. 
  • Implement an easily changeable storefront for your website to adapt to customer needs.

AI in consumer behavior

Forbes describes AI marketing as “a method of leveraging technology to improve the customer journey.” AI marketing uses artificial intelligence to find patterns and predict customer behavior to improve their buying journey.

How can AI be implemented in an eCommerce business?

  • Identification and forecasting of consumer buying behavior trends. Use AI systems to collect data from social media and news sources, as well as previous sales and customer ratings, to determine what consumers expect and what products they will spend more money on.
  • Customer sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis is a technique that uses text analysis solutions to analyze your consumer feelings. AI systems can scan a pool of online reviews then help you understand if your customers are satisfied with the quality and price of your products.

Augmented reality

Augmented reality simulates in-person shopping experiences by allowing customers to see how a product might look in reality. With AR, customers click on a product and instantly see it overlaid wherever they point their mobile device. As they can view a product from every conceivable angle in an interactive 360-degree experience, it gives them a better idea of the product value.

And here’s what most people don’t realize. Augmented reality is likely to be more widely used than virtual reality. According to Grand View Research, the global virtual reality market will be worth $87 billion in 2030. By comparison, the augmented reality global market will be worth $597 billion in 2030. It means that the global market of augmented reality will likely be six times larger than a virtual reality one.

Smartphones, smart glasses, and other handheld and wearable devices will provide the bulk of these experiences. Shopify AR is an example of a tool that already allows customers to view products in natural environments before buying them.

Image recognition turned into product recognition

Image recognition technology has been around for a while now. One of the most popular uses of this technology is unlocking your phone by scanning your face. But, in recent years the functionality of face recognition has been rapidly expanding. Today this tech can not only recognize a face, but it is also able to provide you with information on objects, if you point the camera at them. 

The tech can read labels and barcodes, and that’s where an impact on eCommerce starts. In terms of eCommerce, image recognition turns into product recognition. This technology can give a customer information on a particular product at any time. 

A good example of a product recognition tool is Google Lens. It is an AI-powered app that uses the smartphone camera and deep machine learning to not only detect an object in front of the camera lens but to understand what it is. 

What possibilities does product recognition technology bring to eCommerce? 

1. Improved product recommendations. With this technology, you can show similar products to a customer who is looking for a particular item. Such an approach might eliminate the product filtering process, improve the customer engagement, and shorten the customer journey.

2. Faster searches. With a product recognition search engine, customers can send a photo of the item they want to buy to a messenger chatbot. And, in a matter of seconds, the engine will filter through the inventories and find the product. A good example of such technology would be ASOS’s Style Match. 

3. Virtual styling. A product recognition system can be turned into a stylist service. Such a solution can offer products that match well with the products in the user’s shopping cart.

Video and live shopping

Everyone from brands to media, online retailers, and digital marketing experts are buzzing about live video shopping as it continues to grow across all segments. Consumers are getting used to more engaging and personalized experiences and live video shopping is the most obvious and inspiring solution to this challenge.

“According to a 2021 survey, approximately 84% of social media livestream shoppers felt this channel provides opportunities to buy limited collections and editions.”

Source: Statista

During a live stream, viewers can engage and interact by sending likes and comments and asking questions in real-time about products and services that are being displayed in the stream.

With a host in front of the camera and customer service agents behind the scenes, consumers have never been this inspired and felt so confident about making a purchase online. The speed at which consumers get answers to their questions in real-time is incomparable to any previous customer service experiences online

Retailers can host shows with store staff, and in-house experts, or partner up with influencers. With live video shopping merchants can focus on building engagement and creating online communities or they can focus even more on driving conversion by using discounts, promo codes, or exclusive offers.

Live video shopping is the future of eCommerce that will bridge the gap between offline and online shopping.

Omnichannel experience

Channels are media through which a brand communicates with their customers: a brand’s website (both desktop, tablet, mobile, and other devices), their physical stores, a billboard, or even product packaging, emails, phone calls, live chat, all kinds of marketing channels, or video calling. 

An omnichannel approach integrates channels with each other to create a seamless customer experience regardless of what channel the customer is using. 

According to The Harvard Business Review, around 73% of customers prefer shopping through multiple channels.

Smooth omnichannel shopping experiences remove the friction from moving between different touchpoints, making it easier for the customer to complete their buying journey. For example, a customer can start a query on one channel and easily move it to another without the need to start over again. 

To create an efficient omnichannel strategy for eCommerce business you would need to:

  • Implement content-driven sales across all channels
  • Embrace the mobile-first approach
  • Use coherent loyalty strategies

Progressive Web Apps

Shopping from mobile devices has become a routine for the majority of people. Smartphone sales are expected to grow significantly and exceed $432 billion in 2022 (Source: Statista).

A Progressive Web App is a type of web app that combines the benefits of a website and a native mobile app. Unlike mobile applications, they appear in Google and can be linkable, but at the same time, they offer similar functionality to native mobile applications. PWAs can work offline, send push notifications, and use the capabilities of mobile devices in the same way as native applications.

To maintain performance, high ranking in Google, and a native mobile app experience, eCommerce is leaning towards PWAs as a convenient answer to the growing challenges associated with omnichannel and mobile-first consumer demands.

With progressive web apps, maintaining a seamless UX is more convenient and cheaper than with separate mobile apps. In addition, the use of PWAs leads directly to narrowing the so-called mobile gap.

Sustainable eCommerce

Consumers are becoming more and more environmentally aware. That is why preserving our planet drives a lot of decisions that people make today. But, the transition to a sustainable economy is both one of the greatest challenges and great opportunities. 

The eCommerce industry is a frontrunner that can bridge digitalization and sustainability. Businesses all over the world are spearheading tomorrow’s sustainable solutions and shaping the way we shop online.

About 44% of consumers worldwide said that they were more likely to make a purchase from a company with a clear commitment to sustainability in 2021 (source: Statista).

From choosing the right partner, the way merchants package products, how these products are processed in distribution centers, to their delivery to the customers’ doors, and to giving these products a second life.

Sustainability is becoming the new norm and the future of eCommerce. 

eCommerce delivery drones

Drones are robots that fly and can be manually controlled or programmed to fly independently. The world that we live in is constantly changing, there is a possibility that drones will be delivering orders to customers. Such eCommerce giants like Amazon Prime Air are already preparing for drone deliveries. 

“The drone package delivery market is projected to grow from USD 228 million in 2022 to USD 5,556 million by 2030, at a CAGR of 49.0% from 2022 to 2030.”

Source: businesswire.com

As drones are much faster than humans their implementation can notably cut the delivery time. This technology will definitely be beneficial for both companies and customers. The costs for companies will be significantly lower, and people will get what they ordered faster. 

Drones are already being used for finding, identifying, and transporting goods in warehouses. It’s only a matter of time before drones will become essential for the eCommerce industry. 

eCommerce pop-up shops

Not having a walk-in store can be a disadvantage as some people still prefer making purchases in person. To solve this issue online retail brands can open pop-up shops to accompany the products they’re selling online. 

A pop-up stores are brick and mortar stores that are only open for a short period of time. For eCommerce businesses, such an option provides an opportunity to get a somewhat permanent location with short-term leases and lower financial risks.

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After the pandemic the world of retail shifted to online shopping, but it doesn’t mean that people don’t want brick-and-mortar stores anymore.

Here’re a few options on how to introduce a pop-up shop to your eCommerce business: 

Event pop-ups. You can use pop-up stores to generate buzz around marketing events and get real-time feedback on the product.

Virtual pop-ups. In a virtual pop-up shop, customers will be able to go through virtual rooms with the guidance of shopping assistance avatars.

Store within a store. This type of pop-up store occurs when online retailers allocate some space for partner brands to open a store.

Web 3.0

Web 3.0 is the newest buzzword taking over the tech and venture capital world. Web 3.0 is seen as the third generation of the Internet, a decentralized online ecosystem based on the blockchain. 

Theoretically, users will be able to exchange money and information on the web without the need for a middle man like a bank or tech company.

In this vision for the Web 3.0 world, people would have more control over the data and be able to sell it if they choose. And it will be all operated on decentralized, distributed ledger technology. 

Right now Web 3.0 is pretty much an abstract concept with little real-world foundation. But, the philosophy behind it is driving billions in investments in the venture capital world, funding a vast ecosystem of decentralized internet services.

In the future smart tokens and Web 3.0 transactions might become common in eCommerce. Customers will soon be able to seamlessly buy goods and services using tokens and apps built on the blockchain.

To prepare for Web 3.0 era eCommerce businesses should consider doing the following:

  • Consider accepting cryptocurrency payments
  • Add token gated commerce (when access to a part of an online store, like particular items, sales, or collections, is restricted to users holding a certain NFT.)
  • Gamify the buying experience

Metaverse

In July 2021 Mark Zuckerburg showed Facebook’s future – The Metaverse. Other companies are also working on their plans for the metaverse, the expected next iteration of the Internet.

The metaverse is difficult to comprehend, it’s usually described as online spaces where people socialize, work, and play as avatars, which are digital representations of their identities. 

In the metaverse, people will bounce between socializing with friends, having meetings with work colleagues, taking a trip to another country, and shopping.

Right now this version of the metaverse is still in the making, but it will be smart for retailers and brands to start thinking about this new reality and what products they might be selling in the near future. 

Next generation eCommerce will most likely be linked to metaverse in some way or another, and to prepare for the future the changes need to happen today.

eCommerce in the future: industry stats and predictions

Lately, the eCommerce industry has grown at a rapid pace. Let’s take a look at some statistics.

  • eCommerce will account for 20.4% of global retail sales by the end of 2022, which is up from 10% five years ago (source: Statista).
  • According to a recent survey, 76% of online shoppers have made purchases on a website outside of their home country.
  • As of March 2020, there is a notable increase in online purchases worldwide. In the US 23% of respondents said that their frequency of purchasing goods online had increased compared to one month previously (source: Statista).

Generations that will shape the future of eCommerce

Millennials and Gen Z are the generations that are shaping the future of online shopping right at this moment. What do you need to know about their buying behaviors?

  • Today, 36% of millennials are burdened by large amounts of student debt. This led to the "access over ownership" trend, as well as the driving force behind many recent payment innovations like “buy now, pay later” (source: comparecards.com).
  • Based on the Bloomberg report, the disposable income of young students and professionals is $360 billion. As this number increases, businesses are trying to find ways to sell to this generation, and many are trying to figure out how to inspire them to make purchases, especially since their buying habits are completely different from previous generations.
  • According to a Statista survey, 62% of US Gen Z and Millennials make purchases on their smartphone as a result of branded social media posts and/or content shared by influencers.
  • Generation Z and millennials want to support a real change. This year’s Deloitte survey showed us that Gen Zs and millennials are very concerned about the environment and are trying to balance the challenges of their daily lives with their desire to contribute to social change. Hence the re-evaluation of the priorities and bigger expectations from businesses. 

So, what can you do as an eCommerce business owner to attract Millennials and Gen Z as customers? Here’re a few tips that you can use to enhance your eCommerce business.

  • Add different payment methods considering the "access over ownership" trend.
  • Make your eCommerce website mobile-friendly.
  • Tap into social media and influencer marketing.
  • Implement environmental ideas to your business (eco-packaging, minimal waste products, etc)

Final thoughts on the future of the eCommerce industry

As you can see, there are tons of opportunities for eCommerce in the future. Most of the aforementioned changes have already started, and the future of eCommerce is shaping today in this very second. 

Don’t be afraid to leave the legacy eCommerce solutions behind and invest time and money in the technology that will give you more opportunities for growth and improvements.

Remember that the most important thing for eCommerce businesses is a high-quality customer experience, that in turn can improve your conversions and revenue.

Frontend Drives Experience

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