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Future Of Shopping: Technologies that will Reshape Ecommerce Industry in 2021

Would you like to get a portion of the five trillion dollars generated by ecommerce? That’s how much sales ecommerce merchants around the world will likely make by 2021.

The ecommerce industry is booming. Every day, more brick-and-mortar retailers are making a move to sell online, while newcomers are entering to disrupt the industry with innovative ideas.

The competition is getting fierce. Keeping an eye on the new trends and quickly adopting them is your only chance to grow and outdo your competitors.

Related story: 7 Point Blueprint for Making 10x More Money with Your Ecommerce

Let’s take a look at the top five ecommerce trends to watch out for in 2021 and how you can capitalize on them.

1. Voice commerce sets to drive a new era of commerce

A new era, powered by voice, is coming, and this will have a major impact on commerce in 2021 and beyond. We are going through one of those technology shifts that will be shaping consumer interactions with retailers and brands.

Imagine you were having a simple conversation with your smart device to make a purchase instead of having to navigate long sequences of clicks and options just to buy something.

Voice shopping

At a time when people are staying and shopping from home more than ever, voice shopping has proven to be convenient. Amazon built a voice shopping experience that makes buying new products and reordering via Alexa so much easier. And if the user doesn’t have an Alexa home device, they still can voice shop through the Amazon mobile app.

Google offers its customers a similar experience through Google Express. Using Google Home devices, people can give voice commands to Google Assistant. Walmart and Target both offer products via Google Express, meaning there is a large assortment of products to choose from. What’s more, there is free shipping for orders above the store minimum.

Voice payments

Due to the growing use of digital assistants, voice-activated payments for purchases have grown as well at a faster rate than any other connected commerce.

With Google, Amazon, and Apple already making their entrance in the voice payments, I expect to see more disruption in the e-commerce arena as savvy merchants integrate voice payments into their growth strategies.

It’s a bit early to tell where voice-activated payments could go next, knowing that security is still a huge setback. What’s for sure, though, is that they hold great potential. They’re convenient. They save time. And they promise to take the frictionless customer experience to the next level. So keep an eye on this trend.

Related story: 10 Tips to Get Your Ecommerce Site Ready for 2020 Holiday Shopping

The predominant ecommerce businesses are still relying on standard keyboard data inputs. Updating your websites and apps to allow voice commerce will help you outperform your competitors. So let’s take a look at three ways to prepare your ecommerce site for voice queries.

  • Optimize your content to increase your chances of appearing in voice searches
  • Offer voice-based navigation on your website and mobile app.
  • Make sure your products can be purchased with a simple flow using voice command.

#2 Omnichannel shopping will become dominant 

Omnichannel retailing gives shoppers a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices – no matter if the client is shopping online from a mobile device, a laptop, or in a brick-and-mortar store.

73% of people used multiple channels during their shopping journey, according to a survey by Harvard Business Review.

With the increased adoption of mobile devices and voice assistants, I can only imagine that in 2021 the number of omnichannel customers will rise even more.

According to research, only 45% of retailers actually see omnichannel efforts as a top priority for their business. There is a good reason, though, to take it seriously and improve the omni-experience for your customers:

Omnichannel customers have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop in only one channel.

The rewards of adopting the omnichannel approach are clear: increased sales, increased customer loyalty, and reduced costs.

If you refuse to adopt omnichannel, you risk being left behind and losing customers to competitors who are being proactive.

Omnichannel is an incredible opportunity for innovation. Customers are looking for new, exciting, and above all unique experiences. They want even tedious purchases to be fun, easy, or both.

Oasis is a great example of awesome omnichannel approach.

It is a U.K. fashion retailer that’s fusing its ecommerce site, mobile app, and brick-and-mortar stores into a simple shopping experience.

If you walk into one of its stores, you’ll find sales associates armed with iPads that are available to give you on-the-spot, up-to-date product information. The iPad also acts as a cash register. And if it appears that something is not available at the store at the moment, the staff can instantly place an online order for you to have the item shipped directly to your home.

Have you thought how you can offer a seamless omnichannel experience? Here are a few things to think about:

  • Optimize your website for mobile devices. From what I’ve seen so far, most of the ecommerce suffers when it comes to speed, performance, and usability on mobile devices. If you have the budget, create a mobile app or a PWA.
  • Personalize the customer experience at every step possible and try to make it frictionless
  • Offer various purchase options, such as
    • Buy online, pick up in-store
    • Buy in-store, choose home delivery
    • Buy online, get doorstep delivery

#3. Augmented reality can propel ecommerce growth

Augmented reality (AR) is a new thing in the ecommerce world. Believe it or not, this technology will completely change the way customers shop in the coming years.

Many ecommerce store owners are still wary of adopting Augmented reality technology — and that’s mainly because many of you still don’t know what augmented reality exactly is and how it can change your online selling game.

Let me explain.

One of the greatest limitations of online selling is the inherent difficulty of trying to represent a product virtually.

AR can help bridge the gap between shopping at a physical location and online shopping by making it easier for customers to preview products or experience services in their normal lives before buying. Thus, they are given a better sense of what they are purchasing and are more likely to pick the right product the first time.

Virtual try-on solutions that enhance the shopping experience

According to a report from customer experience platform Narvar, the top reason why consumers returned goods from Amazon (34%) and other retailers (46%), was the wrong size, fit, or color.

Virtual try-on is an alternative that’s trying to fill the gap.

AR helps online shoppers understand what they’re buying and how precisely items from clothing to cosmetics will look on them before adding it to the shopping cart. What’s more, this makes their experience pleasant and fun.

Trying on different looks is what many customers are looking for.

That’s why Sephora’s Virtual Artist app is amazing for online beauty shoppers. You can try out different lip colors, eyelash thickness, eyeshadow, and cheek colors. Thus, you can easily see what colors look good and which look bad.

This virtual experience is even better than an in-person experience where you’d have to apply and remove makeup until you’ve found the one you like.

And if you like the look you created, you can easily click the Shop buttons to buy the products. This allows you to have a fun shopping experience while making the purchase an easy and natural part of the process.

The eyeglass maker Warby Parker is also playing in the AR space, allowing people to see what a pair of glasses looks like on their faces before making a purchase.

Preview placement

Buying the wrong item is quite common in ecommerce. For example, the shopper might buy a sofa set and later realize that it just doesn’t look good with the rest of the décor.

That’s where preview placement can help. It gives customers a real-time glimpse of what the product will look like when placed in their environment.

IKEA Catalog app is a great retail example of augmented reality. It allows users to place virtual items of their furniture catalog in their rooms in real-time.

Sony Electronics recently launched the Envision TV AR app as a way to “preview before you buy.” Homeowners could “see” how a Sony TV will fit on the wall or the space they had in mind for placement. Using a smartphone and the Envision TV AR app, customers could accurately determine which TV size is perfect for their space.

The future of ecommerce lies in creating an online shopping experience that combines the perks of shopping in-store with enhanced and fun options like virtual try-ons and previews.

Advancements in augmented reality coupled with rapid increases in smartphone adoption and faster networks like 5G will continue to drive this trend.

So if you want to be ahead of the curve and see an increase in conversions and a decrease in the return rate, you have to consider implementing augmented reality in your ecommerce store.

#4. A new level of personalization through artificial intelligence and machine learning

I have no doubt you’ve heard of artificial intelligence (AI), but the question is, how can we use artificial intelligence in ecommerce?

Personalization is nothing new for ecommerce, and if you frequently use Amazon, then you’ll know exactly what I am referring to. However, with the ever-increasing advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies, new deep personalization levels have started to penetrate the fast-growing e-commerce world.

Whether it is a mobile application, a website, or an email campaign, the AI engines are continuously monitoring all devices and channels to create a universal customer view. This unified customer view helps ecommerce retailers deliver a seamless and personalized customer experience across all platforms.

Conversational commerce

The use of artificial intelligence through ‘chatbots’ is just one way to drive the conversation and personalization in this next era of conversational commerce.

Chatbots can automate order processes and are an effective and low-cost way of providing customer service. Customer service via social is starting to establish itself as a requirement as opposed to an option.

Often when consumers are browsing online, they are already logged into social platforms such as Facebook. With this in mind, there is a great opportunity to use messenger functionality to confirm orders or provide instant online support.

Customer-centric search

Consumers often abandon ecommerce experiences because the product results displayed are often irrelevant.

The AI technology can give ecommerce businesses a competitive edge by providing a better search experience and returning personalized search results.

A great example is Pinterest’s recent update of its Chrome extension, which allows users to find similar items based on an image they’ve found online through the use of their image recognition software.

It’s not just Pinterest introducing new search experiences with AI.

New software platforms give ecommerce websites the opportunity to create innovative visual search capabilities as well as finding matching products. AI can help shoppers easily discover complementary products whether it is size, color, shape, fabric or even brand. Amazing, isn’t it?

#5. Mobile commerce will dominate ecommerce

By now your website – and online store – should already be accessible on mobile devices, but that doesn’t automatically mean your business is ready for mobile commerce.

As consumers’ trust in online shopping increases, they feel more comfortable making purchases using their mobile devices. However many ecommerce businesses do not provide flawless mobile experience.

An important area of growth in the use of mobile technologies is in the form of improvements that can bring the mobile to the shopping experience in the real world. In recent years, brands have put a lot of energy to facilitate the use of mobile wallets and payments, and providing value-added services.

As an online seller, you should focus on improving the customer experience for mobile users.

Here are some great ways to prepare your ecommerce site for mobile devices:

  • Examine your website for mobile-friendliness using Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Enter your URL in the tool, and it will show if your online store is responsive. It also shows if there are any loading issues on your website.
  • Create a progressive web app (PWA) for your online store. PWA’s load faster than a website and allow customers to view pages that they have previously browsed without the internet.
  • Ensure a smooth checkout process on mobile devices and find ways to simplify it further.
  • Test your mobile site manually. Check if it is easy to navigate. Examine if it is easy to view products on your mobile and if there is an option to zoom.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce businesses looking to dominate the market must prepare themselves to adopt the latest trends as soon as possible. In 2021, voice and mobile commerce, as well as omnichannel shopping will likely be prevalent.

Personalization and enhanced user experience will give you an edge. So try to use the technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality to your advantage to make an as delightful and fun experience for your customers as possible.

Get the most out of 2021

Don’t miss the opportunities the new year has to offer. Get in touch with us for a first free review and consultation, and learn how we can help to grow your online business.

or Set a discovery call with us via Zoom.

Elena Velikova

Elena Velikova

Co-founder & CEO

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