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Through Covid, online shopping has enjoyed meteoric success. Forced to do their shopping from home, people tried it, liked it and now use it without thinking about it twice.

This opens up a huge opportunity, especially with new technological advances, for brands looking to extend their reach across borders and in other countries where growth might otherwise have been slow.

So, let’s take at some of the biggest trends.

Voice search

Thanks to the likes of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, voice search is a rapidly growing phenomenon. Not only do more people own smart speakers, but they also rely on voice assistants to complete daily tasks.

According to statistics, 50% of adults own a smart speaker in the UK, and 75% of adults in the US are expected to have one by 2025.1

Alexa will of course tell you when your package from Amazon is due to arrive, so it stands to reason, therefore, that many people will soon be using voice assistants to order online too.

Automation

In the context of future ecommerce that means Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots.

If you’re a shop-in-person real-world-shopper, chances are you’re not a fan of the humble chatbot. And you won’t be alone. Right now just 19% of businesses use them. But a Business Insider Intelligence report predicts that global retail consumer spending via chatbots will reach $142 billion by 2024. It’s well worth noting that chatbots can increase sales conversions in some industries by 70%,2 though this still requires substantiation as monitoring them across industries is difficult.

Augmented reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is happening now, especially in certain industries like fashion.

In fact, 35% of people say that they would shop online more if they could virtually try on a product before buying it and 22% would be less likely to visit a brick-and-mortar store if AR was available via their favourite ecommerce store.3

The AR industry will reach $198 billion by 2025, up from $3.5 billion in 2017. When combined with 3D body scanning, AR technology will revolutionize the fashion store experience.4

Mobile

Over a third of all shopping in the UK is done on a mobile phone and 79% of smartphone users have made an online purchase in the last six months. 

The figures are rising every year. As well as a fully responsive site – that works on computer, tablet and especially their phone - offering more ways to pay is a sure fire way to increase conversion rates. Statistics show that if your site isn’t up to scratch on mobile, 40% of users will go to your competitor. 84% of shoppers have experienced difficulty completing a mobile transaction. So if your site isn’t optimised for mobile, now’s the time to sort it out.

Subscriptions

Subscription services are a great way to create a steady income stream, and plan for inventory and sales that are already locked in.

More ways to pay

PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo. Younger tech savvy consumers expect to be able to pay in different ways.

Also many ecommerce stores are now offering options for low-to no-interest financing – sometimes known at BNPL (Buy Now Pay Later) - enabling shoppers to buy over an extended period. Popular BNPL options at the moment incude Klarna, Affirm, Afterpay (Clearpay in the UK), LayBuy and Paypal Credit. Since providing the option to checkout with Klarna, fashion store Schuh saw a 40% increase in conversions on mobile and a 25% increase on desktop purchases.

Video and more video

Video has proven to be a great way to engage customers in the last few years, and it’s set to continue. According to Gartner, whether you embed them on landing pages, websites, social media, or emails, they can generate much higher user engagement than text-based content.

The good news is, gritty videos that are authentic, helpful and relevant to buyers can have just as much impact as professionally produced polished videos. So, if you have a decent phone camera there’s no reason why you can’t product short video clips yourself. And by short we mean from five seconds to two minutes have the highest engagement rate on social media.

As ever they need to be aligned with your marketing strategy and buyer journey, but here are a few ideas:

  • Videos on industry trends and thought leadership
  • Educational video blogs work really well as they reach a wide audience
  • Product overview or unboxing videos work for buyers who are exploring their options
  • Customer testimonial/influencer videos can build action triggers for purchase as well as helping buyers at every stage of the buying journey.

Gartner research found that customers who think that information received from suppliers is helpful are three times more likely to make a bigger purchase with less regret.

Sustainability

Given recent heat waves and flash fires in Europe and elsewhere, it’s hardly surprising that the environment has risen to the top of people’s agendas, particularly the young.

35% of female shoppers also say they intend to buy fewer, higher quality garments in the future, with sustainability in mind.5 And they’re right to be concerned, as almost 60% of all clothing ends up in incinerators or landfills within a few years.6

75% of shoppers also want to see less packaging. Showing that you’re doing your bit to protect the environment is not just a nice-to-have, it’s a major point of difference. So, if you can, it’s worth publishing your eco-friendly credentials – going paperless, using biodegradable packaging, and using recyclable supplies etcetera…

We live in an age of high visibility. Every company, large and small, needs to show it cares, not just about the customer but the customer’s world.

Happily, ecommerce and the social platforms associated with it – twitter, Facebook, instagram, tik tok – gives us ample opportunity to do just that.



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