Top 2021 eCommerce Trends Deserving Your Attention in 2021
With the changes to our current digital age, eCommerce trends are popping up everywhere. Businesses that fail to learn about the changes and react intelligently to them risk falling behind their competition and losing out on business. COVID-19 dramatically increased the pace that legacy businesses needed to invest in and build a solid web presence. It also forced those businesses that were already online to modernize their approaches and implement the trends that could most benefit their online presence.
As a business owner, your task is to make sure you are aware of the trends to build custom eCommerce website, do your best to understand how they could affect your business and make sure either you or a reliable partner can help you to determine what is a fad vs. what is here to stay. Educating yourself and making sure your team is keeping up with these changing opportunities is more important than ever. Reading this post about the latest trends you should be aware of is a great start. If you aren’t sure you are able to do it yourself, hiring a knowledgeable ecommerce software partner will help ensure your company’s successful web presence, performance, security, and system’s architecture. Nailing this will keep you one step ahead of your competitors and increase your revenue!
We broke down 7 of the most important 2021 eCommerce development trends every business owner should be aware of when considering a move online, updating their current ecommerce capabilities and ultimately turning more of their visitors into repeat customers.
1. Headless eCommerce Architecture
eCommerce businesses strive to build dynamic, engaging sites that load quickly, eliminate security loopholes, increase usability, boost sales, and create the best user experience but, at the same time, keep the administration of them easy for non-technical business stakeholders to make edits and updates. In the past, engineers built out websites using a monolithic architecture. That is a technical way of saying “all the code was tightly bundled together in one giant codebase” and maintaining, as well as scaling the site, became harder over time. A new and growing trend in the eCommerce industry is the separation of the customer facing frontend of a website from the backend functionality. This new approach of site development is called “headless” and relates to all types of sites but for this post we will focus on those in the commerce space. The headless approach can be integrated with any number of payment platforms, eCommerce providers and 3rd party software.
In non-geek speak, a “headless” eCommerce site is a platform that manages, stores, and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer by using templates or themes that decouple your client facing frontend from your backend. With a headless architecture, the front end (or the “head”) is removed, leaving only the backend. In the past the front and backend were all coupled together in what we described above as the monolithic approach. The headless approach lets an engineering team use different frontend and backend technologies for your eCommerce website to make sure that you can optimize the use of content (think images, metadata, copy etc) that populates your website, while at the same time using one of the big ecommerce platform for your backend like Shopify, Magento, Bigcommerce and Salesforce Commerce Cloud.
Using a headless approach for your site helps improve your site’s performance significantly, it’s security, its scalability and makes website support and maintenance it over time easier. When done correctly by a professional software development team, the performance improvements alone will help your rankings with search engines and also your user experience because we all know how short a human’s attention span is nowadays. A slow loading time is truly detrimental to sales and your opportunity to rank highly in search engines. This approach provides a simple and fast experience for all consumers, no matter what device they are using as well. Your content management system is not controlled from the backend, so pages won’t be slowed down by long loading times for a simple change and non technical stakeholders can still easily manage content and make updates.
2. Omnichannel eCommerce
Omnichannel marketing is another current trend that’s here to stay in eCommerce development, and combined with headless architecture, has the potential to deliver incredible functionality and a seamless user experience to multiple sales environments. All the data from the channels can be managed from a single platform without worrying about frontend restrictions. It’s efficient and customizable, and your consumers are sure to love it!
The term multichannel commerce is a bit self-explanatory but the approach involves using more than one method of selling to consumers. In contrast, omnichannel commerce seamlessly connects all physical locations with their online experience to create a streamlined experience for the consumers whether customers are doing their due diligence offline or online.
Single-channel commerce is becoming a thing of the past as consumers prefer researching and interacting with businesses through multiple journeys. These journeys include contact through a website or Messenger chatbot, checking customer or online reviews, researching a business’s social media presence, or even visiting the brick and mortar store locations before making a purchase. This isn’t all talk; the stats prove it too. According to a Harvard Business Review article, nearly 75% of all consumers use multiple channels before making a purchasing decision.
Imagine seeing an ad or mention of a product in your social media channel. You click on their social media page, double check their legitimacy and then click on the link to view their website to learn more about their product offering to get a demo or make a purchase. If the business has a local store, they may share directions to their nearby physical location. This sounds like a more engaging experience than just scrolling through product photos, right?
3. Progressive Web Applications (PWAs)
Another advantage of building a PWA is the ability to pre-cache key information so certain functions can still be used even if the device loses cellular signal. Some experts are describing progressive web applications as the “future of eCommerce.”
4. Voice-Controlled Browsing
Voice-controlled browsing is already prominent on many popular commerce websites with smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Voice shopping is expected to reach $40 billion in the USA by 2022. Savvy business owners, who sell the right products, can stay on top of the eCommerce industry by optimizing their site’s content and products to appear in voice search queries – and by making this an intuitive, simple experience for customers! We have seen this work well for products that are bought for the kitchen or used in your home office and work well for more impulse buys.
5. eCommerce Chatbots
This trend in online selling is probably one you have already encountered. You land on an ecommerce site and are greeted by a chatbot on the lower right-hand corner of the site. What is becoming more popular though and taking this trend to the next level, is the use of Artificial Intelligence to understand and respond to customers on your site. As AI evolves, so will the accuracy of chatbot responses and the more intelligent they get.
These bots are designed to provide immediate answers to frequently asked questions such as product or service pricing and information, shipping updates, returns, and customer account information. With a bot guiding a visitor through your website or answering customer service questions, one extra member of your customer service team will be free to address more urgent issues. What’s more, over 60% of buyers prefer to answer their questions using self-serving digital tools such as chatbots rather than communicating with a manager.
6. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Speaking of chatbots and voice-activated browsing, artificial intelligence is one of the most popular tools in eCommerce development right now. Among these AI applications in the eCommerce industry are personalized product recommendations or configuring a product offering by recommending other products others have bought with the product you are interested in or helping a user customize a product to be exactly what they want. By combining knowledge of a user’s previous purchase history, their searching habits, and/or other browsing habits, using AI guarantees satisfaction and an increase in sales when done correctly. With personalized recommendations and ads, you will surely receive more sales, repeat business and satisfied customers.
Another major trend in eCommerce, is using AI for email marketing. This means automatically sending out marketing emails for products that certain recipients are more likely to purchase or have searched for something similar on your site in the past but didn’t buy (or did buy but can use a hint to purchase more). If the AI already knows what a specific customer is interested in or likes to purchase, your promotion email will be personalized to include similar products and new releases. This system will also analyze the received response and will further align the campaign to the individual customer’s needs.
Additionally, AI-based data analytics tools can drastically help your tracking progress and improve sales. Although not visible to customers, this is a trending tool used by many large companies. It includes analyzing online purchase rates, creating customer profiles, and more. The data generated and analyzed by an AI tool will be of great help to any business. Not only will it save team members time and effort, but this precise data will always be up to date and can be used to improve business strategies.
7. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR)
Being such a mobile form of technology, virtual and augmented reality is slowly emerging as one of the bigger opportunities for eCommerce businesses in the future. Today, only 1% of retailers use VR or AR technologies. You will be getting in on the “ground floor” if your product lends itself to the use of VR or AR!
With VR, businesses can now set up virtual showrooms and stores for customers to browse straight from their couch. Covid has really pushed this trend to the forefront. This experience feels just like going out to a physical store, but still socially distanced. Most of the current online shopping experiences aren’t very engaging or immersive, but with VR, you can transform your customer’s living room into your gallery. Whether you sell clothing, eyewear, art, furniture, cars or real estate, any business can benefit from integrating these technologies into its sales strategies. This is an especially helpful tool for the customers who wish to shop with you but do not live near any physical locations.
Of course, these technologies also give customers a chance to visualize your product before they commit to a purchase. Augmented reality is not the same as VR; instead, it uses a video of reality mixed with a few virtual elements. With a headset, customers will see their living room, and then they can overlay products on top of their view. They can try on a dress they had their eye on or a lamp to see how it looks in their living room. We spent time building a proof of concept for one of our clients who was selling online pictures frames so their customers could see what a frame would look like in their house before they bought it. When you allow consumers to visualize how your products will fit into their everyday life, they will surely be more inclined to shop with you.
Covid has drastically increased the speed at which businesses needed to get online or improve their online customer buying experience. This has been a great opportunity for those selling online and in the eCommerce world as the space is thriving and constantly changing. Besides, knowing the cost to build an eCommerce website and the average time to create a website is important because it helps you calculate the investment you will need to start your new online business idea. To get a competitive advantage, you have to spend the time to keep up to date with the emerging technologies and market changes or you can work with an experienced software development agency to help you plan for these changes based on their experience. What do you believe is the biggest trend in eCommerce that we will see come from 2021?