To stay afloat and even outperform the competition, you always have to be up-to-date with new strategies, tactics, and technologies. To help you out a little bit, we’ve compiled a list of the trends that 2021 is going to bring us. Some of them have been permanent members on the list for several years, while others are new faces.
This trend lies in selling and purchasing items directly on social media networks without the necessity to go to an online shop. According to Research & Markets, the overall social trading market, estimated at $89.4 billion in 2020, is going to reach up to $604.5 billion by 2027. Moreover, nearly 30 percent of purchasers claim that networks are a preferable practice for them to shop online; meanwhile, sales in messengers surpass email marketing showings.
A range of drivers contributes to the rapid growth of social commerce. On the one hand, consumer behavior and the convenience of shopping directly on social networks have an effect. On the other hand, platforms constantly improve with advanced functionality for better user experience, engagement, and more time spent.
Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest currently support store functionality, shoppable posts, and even internal checkouts to make it possible for customers to smoothly buy products without switching off from chatting with friends and exploring news feeds.
What to Do Now
- Concentrate efforts on platforms that are more common for your target audience and better fulfill your brand potential.
- Make use of shops on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and give an impressive product presentation by adding high-quality, eye-catching visuals and engaging product descriptions.
- Use built-in advertising opportunities for your social shops to reach more consumers and drive more sales.
- Keep abreast of competitors and best practices to learn what they lack and what to adopt in your social commerce.
Headless Commerce & PWAs
It is a growing tendency among big brands, which involves splitting up the frontend part of a site from the backend. As a result, it offers system stability during traffic peaks and delivers instant user experiences with fast loading time, while retailers concentrate on implementing and testing updated functionality for better user engagement.
PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) utilize the enormous powers to change the appearance and atmosphere of your shop on smartphones, transforming it into one that works like an app in every sense and purpose. PWAs merge the abilities of sites and mobile software to build a breath-catching user experience that drives better conversions and longer average website sessions.
For example, the UK clothing brand George boosted its mobile conversions up to 31 percent and average page load time by three times. Besides, it reached 20 percent more page views per visit and a longer average time spent on site from the home screen.
What to Do Now
- Analyze your purchasers’ needs and list what your existing e-commerce platform offers and lacks to set your priorities. In case agility and advanced user experience are on a priority basis, then headless commerce is an excellent choice for you.
- Develop an action plan of migration to a headless commerce architecture and set up expectations.
Mobile shopping became a must-have for retailers and merchants. You are losing a good opportunity if your website is not working on smartphones or via web apps. Statista reports that more than 70 percent of online business sales will have come from mobile devices by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, according to OuterBox, almost 80 percent of smartphone shoppers have ordered online using their smartphones during the last six months.
What to Do Now
- Conduct a website audit on different devices and ensure that design and features are properly displayed and work as expected.
- Run speed tests on mobile page speed using different tools — Test My Site, PageSpeed Insights, or WebPageTest — to reveal system bottlenecks and areas of improvement.
As smart speakers are becoming more and more ubiquitous, while consumer demands are evolving, voice commerce is considered the next major breakthrough in retail. Customers buy smart speakers, use voice assistants in their daily routine, and exploit voice search to shop online easily. The increased demand in voice search opens up an opportunity for online businesses for keyword usage, content, and personalization as a whole.
OC&C’s global strategy consultants found that in the States alone, voice trading will have accounted for $40 billion in retail sales by 2022 in comparison with $2 billion in 2017.
What to Do Now
- Enable voice commerce using VoiceFront or Blutag without any coding or development efforts.
- Optimize your product catalog to make it accessible to shoppers using voice commands.
Chatbots communicate with online purchasers equally as a salesperson in a store. Keep in mind that shoppers are willing to find products and buy them in just a couple of clicks, and if they can’t, they instantly exit. As stated in the Oracle paper, almost 36 percent of brands already implemented chatbots to enhance their customer experience.
What to Do Now
- Analyze your user scenarios and define the type of chatbot (sales, customer support, news notification) that meets your shoppers’ needs.
- Develop use cases and sample conversation flows and bring your team to the issue to make sure that there are no gaps out there.
- Define your measures of success to approach it properly and determine which metrics matter the most.
Diversify Payment Options
Customer patterns force retailers to be flexible in offering as many payment methods as possible. A list of available options extends beyond PayPal to Amazon Pay, Apple Pay, Shopify Pay, etc. As reported by Worldpay Global Payments, the most commonly used methods are eWallets (36 percent), followed by credit cards (23 percent) and then debit cards (12 percent). Moreover, there are currently more user-friendly options, such as buy now pay later, which is also worthy of attention.
What to Do Now
- Carry out a comprehensive analysis on which payment options are preferable for your target audience. You could even conduct a poll among your website users to find out what fits them best.
- Take into consideration business localization, such as countries and currencies supported, while deciding on payment options.
- List all your available gateways in the footer and checkout to make it possible for purchasers to easily find options for use.
Machine Learning & AI in Retail
The sophisticated technologies allow gathering data on your customer shopping behavior and process it to find out what they’re interested in and are more likely to purchase. As a result, it enhances personalization and improves the sales process and product recommendations for shoppers. Interestingly, in 2020, Magento Commerce introduced AI-based product recommendations and keeps investing in enhancing digital business.
As stated in the PwC paper, AI has enough capacity to change everything about online businesses and will have contributed up to $15 trillion to the overall economy by 2030.
What to Do Now
- Utilize AI-driven product recommendations and follow tech giants like Amazon with their ‘Customers who bought this item also bought.’
- Offer dynamic product pricing, changing prices based on supply and demand.
- Introduce interface and content customizations by providing personalized interfaces and content depending on which customer is visiting the site.
So a lot of interesting things are happening in retail. And there’s also one thing worthy of attention. It’s never too late to seize the moment, gain some insights, and make use of it if it’s the right fit for the business. How can you use some of those technologies to enhance the experience of your customers? Those are your starting points.
Thanks for reading! And let’s see what 2021 brings us!
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