Trends in e-commerce

Trends in E-commerce

E-commerce is a very dynamic endeavor. While some aspects remain static, plenty do change. Some trends are fads, others are here to stay. Let’s examine some of the trends that are currently affecting the e-commerce landscape. We hope you will get some helpful ideas from our humble collection. It will definitely be interesting to look at this article again in 10 years from now. Some of the technologies might be highly developed by then. Others will probably be long gone. The future promises to be interesting.

The future of voice is promising

Despite its predecessor already having been developed in the early 60s, voice has gained massive popularity over the last years. One reason is probably that WhatsApp introduced voice messages. So did other software solutions like Slack. We do work a lot and sometimes, we just want problems to be solved quickly and without investing too much energy. That’s where voice can help a great deal. There are already devices like Cortana and Alexa that have been integrated into quite a few households and offices. Google Now and Siri are also widely used. It seems like voice is here to stay. Yet, some aspects still need to be improved. The transaction itself is still a bit impersonal. Giving it more of a human touch can certainly make the entire buying via voice process much more desirable for (potential) customers. Also, there isn’t that much information available as of now. At times, some people want to conduct research before buying a product. Voice could also serve as a sales associate of sorts that will help potential buyers to learn more about the product they are interested in. Lastly, it is uncertain, how much certain voice products actually listen. Some consumers cite privacy concerns as a main reason for not buying a voice gadget.

What is the future of dropshipping looking like?

Dropshipping has been around for quite some time. It does offer a few advantages and disadvantages; like many things in life. Dropshipping can save you money, because you don’t have to pay for inventory. Doing so can eat up quite some capital; for a startup, it can be more cost efficient to work with the dropshipping model. In addition, you will also be able to offer more products and scale your shop faster. Moreover, you will have less inventory management to deal with. However, the company offering drop shipping also wants to earn a few dollars. You will thus have to get out your calculator and see what makes sense for you financially. Also, dropshipping is not as new and unique as it used to be years ago. By now, there are many sellers who offer dropshipping. Be prepared for a stiff competition. Or find a niche that works really well for you.

Shopware makes running an online store much easier

Also, opening your own online shop has become a comparatively easy task. Thanks to solutions like Shopware, it is much easier to set up shop than it used to be some years ago. Given the vast amount of moduls, it is basically a shop operating like a CMS. Since the release of Shopware 6 in 2019, Shopware is focussing on its API first approach. One reason for that decision is the mobile first focus. More than 50% of all digital website visits come from mobile devices. Thus, it makes a lot of sense to implement such a focus. One of many great features that Shopware offers is its free version. It’s called the starter edition. In addition to not costing a cent, it is also GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant. Further options, which users have to pay for, are the Professional Edition and the Enterprise Edition. Shopware as a shop solution can be used for almost every industry there is. Many well known companies are already employing it as the shop solution of their choice. The company itself was founded by the German brothers Stefan and Sebastian Hamann. Who says Germans can only build cars? 😉

Shop Studio Logo
A pretty decent für eine Shopware agency

AR and VR enrich the customer experience

How about AR and VR? Both experiment with reality. AR uses reality and adds a layer over it. VR works just with virtual worlds; mostly accessed through glasses like the Occulus Rift or HTC Vive. However, there are also AR glasses available. Again, they just add an artificial layer over what you see in reality. Both can enhance the selling and buying experience. Ikea has used AR to advertise its furniture and to help you getting an idea what it would look like in your apartment. Virtual reality has been employed for many use cases. I.e. in museums to learn more about a painting or another artwork like a bronze. Moreover, it is also used for simulations and trainings, like teaching pilots how to fly or doctors how to operate a patient.

Payment is a very essential topic and much more complex than one might assume. It used to be just credit cards, then PayPal become a big player and now we also have others like Klarna. Some companies even accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. Let’s see how long it takes, until you can pay with an NFT. NFTs are a great example for a trend. It will be interesting to see if they gain momentum over the next years or disappear into obscurity. Speaking of NFT; NFC is also an important topic when it comes to payment. The so called Near-Field Communication allows for payment with smart devices such as a smart watch or your smartphone. Well known companies that offers such a payment option are Google Pay and Apple Pay. Both solutions that can also be used to pay online.

Chatbots make communication much easier

Do you have any idea what chatbots are good for? Some people are still trying to figure out the answer to that question. Yet, aforementioned programs do offer quite some advantages. They can help with more efficient customer communication. This might entail communication before buying a good or service. It might also concern support for users once they bought something from your company. Unlike real humans, chatbots don’t need a break. They can thus be employed around the clock and every day of the year. There tend to be two kinds of chatbots: transactional chatbots and conversational chatbots. The transactional chatbot is a bit more static. It deals with guiding users through a fixed set of predefined options. A conversational chatbot is a bit more sophisticated. It therefore comes as not much of a surprise that it might partake in a clever conversation using artificial intelligence. Overall, chatbots are a great way to help customers in an efficient manner. As long as they are configured well and also offer an option to reach out to a human being, in case the options are available aren’t helpful to the user. Have you communicated with a chatbot yet or possibly even implemented one yourself?

Don’t underestimate the power of AI

Artificial intelligence has also impacted the e-commerce and chatbot landscape. The technology can be used for different purposes. One of them would be product recommendations. Recommending further items of potential interest is a win-win situation for the seller and the buyer. It shows a potential buyer further items that suit his or her taste. It can thus lead to further sales, which increases the sellers revenue. AI can also be used for chatbots, at least for the more sophisticated ones. Using NLP (Natural Language Processing), it might make you think that you are interacting with an actual human. Yet, there is a sophisticated robot at the other end of the conversation. Employing chatbots can help companies with numerous aspects. For one, they can allocate their employees for other tasks or at least have to use fewer people for customer support queries. Chatbots can not only help with problems, they might also serve as a sophisticated shopping consultant. By the way, if you do also own physical stores, it might make sense to work with autonomous robots. They can save much more information than humans and display it in multiple languages.

What is last mile delivery all about?

Another topic that has gained importance is the so called last mile delivery. Essentially, it caters to shoppers who have almost everything, but patience. It is a way to improve logistical supply chain models and can include same-day delivery. If you pay close attention, you might have also noticed that in many countries, tracking your parcel has become much easier and common. By using your shipping number, you can often see where your parcel is currently located. Sometimes almost in real-time. While this might be more important for business correspondence, it also makes sense for consumers. Knowing where your desired piece of clothing or your new book currently resides is quite helpful. Thanks to GPS this is no problem at all. Also new technologies like robots and drones do help with delivery. For now, they are used to test delivery to remote locations such as islands. But who knows what the future might bring? It might involve using machine learning to improve delivery and understand some of the problems that cause delay during that process.

Scalping has been around for a while

An evergreen, which has also existed since way before the internet, is scalping. It basically means to buy something at a price that is presumed to increase in the foreseeable future; likely due to increased demand for the product and a possible shortage of supply. This can be a concert ticket or any sort of limited edition product. While the ethical aspect behind it might be questionable, scalping probably won’t disappear any time soon. Scalpers buy something that they presume will gain in value within a short amount of time. But with technology, scalping has also evolved. These days, scalping bots scan websites for options; buying goods shortly after they are made available in an online shop. There has also been a trend of using virtual credit cards. Doing so, scalpers are tying to avoid ending up on a blocklist. Scalpers can also use changing IP addresses, as well as different physical and e-mail addresses. Moreover, the technical focus also entails circumventing fingerprinting tools. Some shops are trying to seriously lessen or even ban scalping. Others don’t care as much.

How can your e-commerce store be more sustainable?

Sustainability has become a very important aspect in general. Of course, e-commerce shop owner can also contribute their share towards a more sustainable future. One important aspect is packaging. Way too many packaging material is only used once or not very environmentally friendly. As an e-commerce store owner, you should ask yourself what you can do to make shopping a more sustainable undertaking. Also, when buying new stock (depending on the business you are in), it might make sense to also use organic/greener alternatives. Some people are willing to pay a higher price if doing so means helping the environment. Slower shipping or working with an environmentally friendly carrier might also be a good option. Finding a way to reduce your return rate, will also benefit your carbon footprint. In addition, you might also source your goods from suppliers that are more sustainable. Once you implemented greener options you should also let your clients know. They will certainly appreciate it.

As you can see, there are quite a number of trends in the e-commerce realm. Not all of them will make sense for your business. It certainly depends on the products you are selling and the people/companies you do work with. Yet, it is definitely a good idea to inform yourself what’s out there and keep those options on your radar.