2020 brought about one of the most dramatic shifts in the ecommerce landscape since the advent of online retail. The unfortunate and completely unforeseen events of the year spurred an enormous spike in ecommerce activity worldwide, which is now predicted to continue indefinitely.
In the United States alone, total annual ecommerce revenues are expected to exceed $6.5 trillion by the end of 2022. A projection made even more impressive when considering the market’s total annual value in 2019 was just $3.53 trillion.
While ecommerce had been predicted to take over as the new norm for some time, none expected its popularity or importance to reach such peaks as early as this. The result of which is now something of a chaotic and frantic race for success, with tens of millions of ecommerce enterprises competing for the same business worldwide.
All of which makes now the time to think carefully about the ecommerce trends set to dominate the landscape in 2021. Irrespective of the specific area of ecommerce your business operates in, these are the trends you’re guaranteed to see much more of this year:
1. The Growth of Voice Commerce
Initially passed off as something of a fad, voice assistants are becoming everyday staples in more homes than ever before. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 75% of households in markets like the UK and US will feature a Google Assistant, Amazon Echo or equivalent voice-controlled smart interface within the next five years.
This highlights the growing importance of prioritising voice commerce – i.e. consumers searching for products and services to buy using voice commands. People tend to interact with voice interface devices in an entirely different way to traditional textual input – a far more casual, conversational approach to search.
The time has therefore come to begin optimising your content and your ecommerce store in general for voice queries, which may involve a rethink of your SEO strategy as a whole.
2. Omnichannel Shopping
This simply refers to the use of multiple channels to make it as easy as possible for a broader audience of consumers to purchase your products. According to a recent Harvard Business Review report, almost 75% of shoppers prefer to use a multitude of channels when shopping online.
Perhaps the most important step towards successful omnichannel ecommerce is to ensure your online store is optimised for all different types of mobile and desktop devices. It also means offering as many flexible purchase options as possible – buy online and pick up in person, buy in-store for home delivery, buy online for delivery at a pickup point (click and collect) and so on.
3. The Rise of AI and AR
Artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology are already having a big impact on the way customers spend their money online. For the most part, artificial intelligence takes the place of a traditional store assistant or advisor, providing tailored recommendations and personalised support based on the behaviours, preferences and actions of the shopper.
Meanwhile, augmented reality provides online shoppers with a closer, clearer and more realistic picture of what they intend to buy, prior to buying it. An example of which being mobile apps that allow the customer to place items of furniture in their homes ‘virtually’ to see how they’ll look, if they go ahead and buy them.
4. Support for Cryptocurrency
Last but not least, more online stores and service providers than ever before are beginning to support cryptocurrency payments. From a long-term perspective, what the future holds for virtual currencies like Bitcoin remains to be seen. For the foreseeable future at least, however, the popularity of Bitcoin is predicted to continue skyrocketing.
Currencies like Bitcoin also bring the benefits of reduced transaction fees, near-total anonymity and minimal processing times. All of which can prove advantageous for both the customer and the ecommerce operator, when introduced as a supported payment method.