The famous Greek philosopher Heraclitus once famously quipped “change is the only constant in life”. This adage also holds true for modern online shopping business, also known as E-Commerce.
Once considered a niche market by the snobbish traditional businesses, eCommerce has managed to become the top-dog in the room. With a total market cap nearing $6 trillion by the end of 2022, rapid adoption of internet-based economy, rise of online shopping through smartphones, and increasing digitization of the global economy, this growth is only set to accelerate in the coming years.
The trends that were prevalent yesterday are no longer viable, the advertising methods have changed, customer sentiments have changed, and the way businesses approach online selling has changed. COVID-19 outbreak arguably had the biggest impacts on eCommerce than any other sector. Virtually every facet of online commerce has undergone some sort of evolution as compared with just a decade ago, which has led many people to wonder what’s next in store for this sector.
Judging by the most-recent predominant trends, and the emerging trends and technologies on the horizon, we have some guesses as to what might be coming next for eCommerce. Let us begin:
- Growth of delivery drones
China’s attempts to start delivering packages in its far-flung rural areas was met with laughter, which later turned into confusion when it turned out it was not a joke, which gave way to incredulity when Chinese eCommerce giants such as JD and Meituan announced plans to expand their delivery drone fleets.
Now, every eCommerce platform has some sort of plans to start making package deliveries through the use of drones. In USA, Amazon, Walmart and FedEx have rolled out their own plans for drone deliveries, with several test deliveries being conducted successfully.
With further plans from other companies to start drone deliveries, and a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) prediction of delivery drone market to grow to of $5.5 billion by 2032, it is not hard to see that mass-adoption is incoming.
- Refined customer experiences
Proving a superior shopping experience to the customers is already a serious priority for all eCommerce platforms. Amazon, the largest online marketplace in the world, is especially renowned for its focus on providing top-quality experience to its customers, even at the detriment of the sellers.
With the growth of the eCommerce market, and the availability of ever more options to the customers, this trend is only set to deepen in the future. Expect eCommerce platforms and retailers to employ experts in public relations to provide top-notch customer services to the clients, both before and after they purchase a product.
Brands are also more likely to prune through customer sentiments in the form of product review and ratings, to figure out what the customers actually want, and tailor their business strategies and corporate culture around the values expected by the customers.
This is a matter of each brands’ individual survival, because an approximate 87% of consumers reduce their spending on brands with less-than-stellar customer service, or abandon them outright.
This trend is expected to result in overall improvements in the experiences customers have while shopping online. It is widely believed that brands will modify aspects such the time taken during the checkout process, and the information demanded during checkout, in a way which appeals more to the tastes of the customers, than to the business realities of the brands.
- Rise of smartphone eCommerce
With a total of about 6.8 billion smartphone devices being used throughout the world, by people who just do not want to get off of their phones, widespread adoption of eCommerce through cellular devices was inevitable. The online marketplaces have taken notice, and have been facilitating mobile eCommerce by introducing dedicated apps for their platforms, as well as optimizing their websites to be mobile friendly, as well.
The Artificial Intelligences (AI) responsible for many tasks on these marketplaces, also emphasize the need for mobile-friendliness, by making mobile-optimization a key feature of their algorithms responsible for ranking top sellers and products.
This will result in an eCommerce market where sellers increasing design their product listings and digital storefronts with the portable mobile devices in mind, which will the avenue through which most of the eCommerce will be conducted in the future.
- Social media’s influence on buying decisions will increase
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have around for quite a while, and have been exercising their bit of influence over the eCommerce. However, today’s social media is an entirely different beast. With the rise in popularity of other social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok, the influence exerted by this sector on eCommerce has risen tremendously.
Consumer are increasingly sharing their shopping experiences and habits on the social media. Instagram and TikTok influencers have come to exert an enormous influence on eCommerce, by referring their followers towards buying particular products, which they are increasingly likely to do so as well.
Retailers are also becoming increasingly dependent on social media to market their brands, and attract new customers.
The proliferation of ‘Social Commerce’ is only set to grow in 2023, because no brand can survive without a robust social media presence. It is expected that this trend will continue to grow into the future, with retailers increasingly hiring social media icons as brand ambassadors to promote their brands and products, and enlisting the services of social media experts to brandish their social presence to prospective customers.
- Rise of sustainable green eCommerce
Despite the attempts of naysayers, climate awareness is on the rise. People are more and more concerned about the deteriorating environment, and its possible consequences on our lifestyles. This increased awareness has also made its way into the world of eCommerce, with a reported 55% of online shoppers declaring the sustainability and green values have a big impact on their choice of brands to shop from.
Most of the renowned retailers have some sort of green infrastructure already in existence, with plans to expand more until whole enterprises have been converted to run on sustainable resources. Many online retailers (like Thrive) have achieved endearment among customers simply because of their adherence to sustainable, green policies.
With many powerful and influential media and political icons backing the green movement, the awareness regarding greenification of businesses is only going to increase among the consumers, which will compel brands to adopt increasingly sustainable business practices to entice those customers.
- Proliferation of interactive shopping through VR/AR
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality have been around for quite a while now, with many top corporations like Google, Facebook and Microsoft having developed devices to provide near-reality experiences from a distance.
This trend is set to make its way towards eCommerce as well, Shopify having already experiemented with it through its ShopifyAR feature. Online marketplaces are expected to increasingly allow their consumers to view and experience the products through engineered reality. The customers will also appreciate this trend as it will enable them to try out any product in almost real-time, to help them in deciding whether they want to buy it or not.
Change occurs to each facet of life, and a sector such as eCommerce with access to educated, tech-savvy customers, and driven by state-of-the-art technologies, is even more prone to changing than the rest. While no one can make 100% accurate predictions about the future, it is not hard to see the prevalent market trends and technologies, and not get a sense of what to expect in the near future. eCommerce is driven by many such technologies and trends which are experiencing rapid evolution, and the online shopping sector is very likely to incorporate those changes, and look a lot different from how it is today.