New data from IBM’s US retail index states that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated eCommerce by five years. While the pandemic had forced many brick–mortar retail stores to close, eCommerce stores thrived because of this. There was also a more significant shift to online buying because of factors like safety. According to this report, in the first quarter of 2020, non-essential retailers’ growth will decline by 25%, but the decline increased to 75% in the second quarter. The report states that department stores should have declined by more than 60%, while eCommerce was projected to show a 20% growth in 2020.
Here is how the future of eCommerce is expected to shape up:
1. Emerging markets will gain strength:
The markets that have a developing middle-class will play a massive role in the future of eCommerce in the next decade. Emerging markets like India, Brazil, Russia, China, etc., are getting millions and millions of new users to the Internet. Since the Internet is getting mainstream in these areas, they will also feel that online shopping is a smarter way to buy things instead of the initial eCommerce buyers who were skeptical about buying something online when online shopping wasn’t as common as it is today.
Most of these markets have been largely untouched except for urban areas; seeing the kind of potential that these areas have, eCommerce businesses will soon invest in creating infrastructure to cater to this area.
2. Small brands will become big:
Yes, you read it right. While the Amazons and Walmarts of the world will always find a massive piece of the eCommerce pie, the emergence of small brands that make niche products cannot go unnoticed. People will be drawn to such small brands because they are more personal, and they make quirky products that might not be available everywhere.
Small brands don’t necessarily have to use someone like Amazon to get an audience. They can easily set up their website, create social media handles, be active, and promote their products. People are comfortable buying from small brands, too, because of secure online payment facilities. While Amazon offers you a vast audience, you can do the same by coming up with interesting pieces of content.
3. Amazon will lose its appeal:
Here is a scary thing that many people have been noticing of late. Amazon uses smaller brands that are on their platform for market research. When they see a well-performing product, they create a low-cost version of the same and promote themselves ahead of the other brands. What happens is that because of this move and the subsequent aggressive selling tactics where they promote their brand and hide the popular small brand, the latter doesn’t get the sales that it usually used to get. This results in many such small brands shutting shop.
When your products are on Amazon, you are at the mercy of the commission rates that they charge. If they want you out of the platform, they can easily do many things that a smaller brand will not be able to take.
4. Real-time marketing:
With technology gaining speed with each passing day, we will find customers getting greatly benefited by it. It also helps retailers where they could make changes to their messaging and strategy while a customer is on the website or in an app.
Retailers will be able to identify the buying cycle that customers are in and propose appropriate measures to take them deep into the cycle. It will significantly influence the way potential customers look at your brand. It might even turn out to be a differentiator.
5. Voice will become a crucial channel:
AI-driven voice technology is going to shape the way we shop. There will come a time when we would have forgotten that we could type our queries on the search button. Why? Because we would be searching for products using the voice feature available and the normal text search might become obsolete- you never know.
The voice search feature will recognize your individual voice and be aware of the previous interactions you have had with a particular shopper, and come up with specific results catered to your demands.
6. Contextual location:
It will become an integral part of the retail experience which will be largely driven by mobile technology. What is the contextual location? Brands will identify a user’s location and deliver content that is timely, targeted, and contextually relevant.
With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons, hyperlocal commerce will be even more common. BLE beacons have built-in sensors that can send signals to BLE-enabled devices within range. It even has the ability to engage with customers after they have left the location.
7. Predictive analytics:
Ecommerce brands will have the ability to determine consumers’ actions in the future by leveraging multiple data points that are available. It will reduce the risk that most of these businesses carry by predicting demand. Predictive analytics, which uses AI, will also be able to come up with product recommendations that will provide a fully curated shopping experience.
8. Rise of digital assistants:
Digital assistants like Siri and Cortana are only the beginning of what it can be. They will become more sophisticated, thanks to the power of artificial intelligence. Customers will be able to shop in peace with the help of digital assistants. Thanks to predictive shopping and AI, the digital assistants will be able to find out interesting offers from the store that they are in.
9. 3D printing will play a limited role:
3D printing will grow if it can provide results at a reasonable cost, but it will have a limited impact on mainstream selling. For highly personalized gifts, 3D printing will play a huge role, but only for luxury customers because of the steep price point at which it operates. Maybe it could prove useful to create spare parts for complex products or other items.
10. Omnichannel to Omni brand:
Instead of thinking and executing in terms of channels, the next few years in eCommerce will be about viewing consumer touchpoints that work together to create an integrated Omni-brand experience. The eCommerce retailers that will be successful will be the ones that provide options for their customers to shop when, how, and where they want to.
We live in exciting and interesting times; it is only going to increase in the immediate future, especially when it comes to eCommerce. The kind of changes that we will be witnessing are going to be immense; we have listed some of them. Due to the paucity of space, we are not able to include some of the other marked changes that we expect to see in the eCommerce space in the next five to ten years.
But we never know what really the future holds for us. Letting go of your legacy systems and replacing them with the latest digital technologies will be one step that will take you to eCommerce success. In this way, you will be better prepared for the sea changes that will take place.