A lot has changed in the past year since the pandemic hit. E-commerce trends are changing as well. Customers are turning more and more towards online shopping for their needs. It’s an excellent time for retail marketers to think about how to serve customers better. Let’s look into the important considerations for retail marketers and ideas to plan for the future.
The future of retail is online
The pandemic has led to a decrease in retail foot traffic. Retailer marketers have focused on driving shoppers online from their physical stores. As more and more people stayed indoors, reliance on online shopping increased to 19 percent in 2020 from 16 percent in 2019. Amazon had monthly average traffic of 3.6 billion visitors in 2020.
People are wary of visiting shopping centers due to fear of infection. We can expect this trend to continue. As a result, there will be an increased demand for same-day delivery and in-store pickup. If there are long wait times for in-store pickup, people will opt for the convenience of home delivery. Brick-and-mortar retailers will have to evolve into fulfillment centers besides being shopping destinations. As technology is shifting and e-commerce stores can predict preferences, online shopping will continue to grow every day.
Mobile shopping is still on the rise
According to all indications, mobile shopping is on the verge of outpacing all other types of shopping. This is fueled by the ever-increasing convenience of shopping from home. Thanks to the pandemic, mobile shopping continues to be on the rise.
Retail marketers saw a 36 percent increase in mobile app downloads during the pandemic. Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have mobile apps for tablets and smartphones. This means that any retailer that is wanting to compete against Amazon and Walmart needs a solid mobile presence, as well. They need to have their mobile app or have their website optimized for viewing on mobile devices. Getting a mobile app for their business will put retailers ahead of their competitors.
Personalization is more relevant now than ever
E-commerce personalization delivers a user experience according to the preferences of the customers. Personalization has taken e-commerce to new heights. Users have recommendations generated to them according to their purchase behavior due to the versatility of data science and artificial intelligence. Personalization Technology can generate leads and take your e-commerce business to the next level. Most e-commerce giants use these technologies to get a competitive advantage. For example, Amazon uses machine learning algorithms to predict accurate forecasts of sales.
Market players are constantly upgrading their business with the help of technology and it’s time that businesses invest heavily in personalizing the user experience.
The rise of personalization is more relevant now than ever as companies are trying to figure out how to better connect with their customer base. Retail marketers have shifted gears to ensure that they do not lose customers due to the lack of products being offered at the store. AI is being leveraged to be able to categorize and predict what the person is looking for. Personalization will be a massive factor in how people look at shopping. They know that it’s not an experience of window shopping or walking out with something “just because.”
Personalizing products, from pricing to product promotions, will change due to this shift in retail trends. Customers are demanding a personalized experience. This can only be achieved through automation and AI. AI can provide an experience that is both personal and tailored to the shopper’s needs. Chatbots can guide a shopper through the store, suggesting items that they may need or want.
Of all the most recent technologies that have been influencing the online world, AI has to be the most intriguing. The application of artificial intelligence seemingly has no limits. It is truly not surprising that retailers like Amazon and Walmart have found ways to take advantage of it. AI and personalization are being paired by online retailers and in order to retain customers, retail marketers need to figure out how to take advantage of AI.
Consumers are spending more
People are spending more money online than they were before the pandemic. Amazon.com generated $108.5 billion in sales in Q1 of 2021, a 44 percent increase from its sales in Q1 of 2020. This goes to show that people are not shying away from spending on e-commerce sites after a pandemic.
Consumers are spending less on travel and leisure. This has led to lavish spending in other categories. Clothing is the major vertical that people are spending money in. In 2020, around 46 percent of the US apparel sales came from e-commerce, growing faster than that in previous years. As a result, the future of e-commerce trends after the pandemic is positive. Consumers are turning away from brick-and-mortar shops and moving online. Companies can expect an increased demand for online shopping and higher profits.
With consumers looking to spend more money online, the time is now for retail marketers to capture this piece of the increased consumer spending.
Social media is still huge in e-commerce
Lines between professional and personal time are getting blurred. As a result, social media usage is rising. Social commerce sites and apps continue to grow in popularity. Social media is playing a significant role in shaping people’s decisions. This applies to both goods and services.
Social commerce is a prominent part of marketing for brands. Brands are tapping into social media channels to promote products and services. They are amplifying their voice on these channels. They are collecting customer feedback from the most popular forums. They focus on building an interactive product experience. Influencers are also playing a significant role in social commerce. Their reach exceeds that of traditional celebrities. Influencers have started making their mark in marketing and sales. More and more brands are seeking them out for product placement on blogs and social media channels such as YouTube and Instagram.
Today’s consumers want personal, authentic, interactive interaction with brands. It is time for retailers to realize that they need to put much more emphasis on social media. Take YouTube for example: with 2.3 billion monthly active users, YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google. Building a YouTube marketing strategy would open a great opportunity for retail businesses to reach a larger targeted audience and this way boost sales. By tapping into the power of social commerce, retailers can grow their businesses.
Eighty-one percent of customers research products online before making a purchase. They look for authentic reviews before purchasing products. Social media platforms can help retail marketers spread the word about products. For example, you can showcase products with the help of facebook carousel Ads and with Instagram marketing. You can seek out influencers on Instagram and YouTube and partner with them to get their unbiased reviews on your products.
Remote working will be on the rise
The internet and video conferencing technology has allowed for a level of independence, unprecedented in history. Workers can now work without having to spend time commuting or being tied down by office hours. More people will work remotely to decrease their commute time. They would want to avoid the commute to spend more time with family.
The number of remote jobs on the labor market is increasing. Office space is expensive. Remote working allows companies to invest in other areas like research and development. As people spend less time in the office, e-commerce will grow. Consumers can buy goods at their convenience. People will be more inclined to buy goods online rather than in brick and mortar stores.
Without a doubt, the meteoric rise of remote working thanks to the pandemic has proven that you don’t have to have a physical office to be successful. Now is the time for companies to run employee surveys and re-evaluate the use of expensive office space to improve the bottom line. Long after the pandemic is over, remote working will continue to exist in a hybrid model of working. E-commerce is one of the industries that will benefit as a result.
Necessity has made new demographics more tech-savvy
One of the many consequences of the pandemic is that it has made new demographics more tech-savvy. Many people have learned how to do things on a computer, which will continue after the pandemic. People have shifted towards online shopping, working from home, buying medication and consulting doctors online. Generation X and Baby Boomers have discovered the power of online and mobile shopping. As digital technology becomes more prevalent due to the pandemic, it is becoming much easier to go online and shop. In order to expand the company’s reach online, retailers need to invest in advanced digital technology.
As an e-commerce retail marketer, you should focus on making your website and mobile app experience user friendly so that new users can easily navigate and shop online.
People are struggling to create a sense of community
As distances have increased among people due to pandemic, this not only increased depression but also many other mental health issues. However, most people used the internet as an outlet to vent out. People are looking for communities to bond with over the internet.
A sense of community will be hard to create in a society where everyone is connected digitally. The internet will provide an easy way for those feeling disconnected to find others with similar interests or values. They can form meaningful relationships that transcend their physical proximity. A return to a sense of community will also impact e-commerce as people rely on each other for information. The best way to build a community around your company is to embrace social media and take advantage of its reach.
As an e-commerce retail marketer, you can create your own community, through Facebook or through other community management software. Through this community, you could communicate the values your brand stands for. You can also reach out to members in your local community that need support and build your goodwill and trust among your community.
AI-driven customer service will be the future
Customer service is not only paramount to the success of any business; it’s also a competitive differentiator. As consumers become less loyal, customer service is going to be more critical than ever before. One way this will come into play is resolving customer complaints fast. This will not only prevent customer churn but also to save money on customer service costs. Companies that don’t resolve issues with their customers will lose out on a significant amount of revenue. They will also lose market share.
Many companies have already made it a priority to respond to customer issues quickly, and for good reason. Retailers should prepare to have their customer service strategy evolve. It will be challenging for them to provide the same level of real-time assistance they may have in a physical store. AI-driven customer service can help reduce wait times in call centers. They can help answer specific customer questions with a machine learning algorithm. Retailers use AI to make themselves more competitive and serve their customers better. Retailers have invested into these services because they know they will be needed for the future. Taking advantage of new technologies like AI to build their customer service offering will differentiate retailers from their competitors.
AI acts as the embodiment of a better customer experience by connecting customers to the right customer representative for their requirements. AI and machine learning are being used by Amazon and Ali Baba to derive predictive accuracy which help generate more leads.
As an e-commerce retail marketer, you can invest in AI technology that will help you analyze call center conversations in real-time and get insights into customers’ feelings. AI technology can help you manage your customer service messages and quickly respond to your customers.
Reliance on supply chain
Supply chain management acts as the backbone of e-commerce and acts as a component of growth. It helps in the procurement of raw material and manufacturing that helps in timely distribution of supplies.
The pandemic has made us realize that the supply chain is more critical than ever. As a result of the pandemic, businesses had to rethink and redesign their supply chain. Even companies like Jaguar Land Rover had to take a turn and operate their supply chain from different regions due to COVID-19.
Companies will invest their efforts to make sure it’s as strong as possible. It’s more important than ever to have a reliable supply chain and inventory. Retailers need to take stock of their ability to deliver products and services—not just for today but with an eye on tomorrow as well.
Retailers are investing in automation technologies to reduce costs and increase efficiency. They use algorithms and predict customer needs. This is based on previous purchases or past purchasing habits. An automatic order fulfillment process which automatically ships the item to the customer at a reduced price. This trend is an example of how online retail marketers have begun leveraging their data and analytics capabilities. They strive to understand the customer better and predict customer needs. This will reduce the strain on the supply chain and increase the efficiency of the business.
Fulfillment will also be more automated and carried out in real-time. The automation of the supply chain will also result in significant cost savings for businesses. For example, clothing retailers that operate on thin margins will benefit. The costs associated with inventory management will become lower. Stock levels will be managed automatically through algorithms instead of relying on human intervention to determine when products need to be restocked.
With automation, the risk of human error and the associated costs that come with them will also be reduced, and businesses should have fewer mistakes to rectify. This new way of thinking about fulfillment can bring a whole range of benefits for ecommerce retailers when considering their future supply chain strategy and planning. They need to consider how this will change the way they store inventory and manage their supply chains. With supply chain being such an important part of the business, retailers need to invest in new technology to upgrade their supply chain to propel their business in a post-pandemic economy.
Cross-channel Integration will continue to rise
Customers are using voice shopping assistants like Alexa to buy products. Retailers need their own strategy for this type of on-demand interaction. The focus on cross-channel integration will continue to rise. Seamless shopping experiences are already available across various devices. This includes smart TVs and voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Home. E-commerce can be transformed with the implementation of this integration, leading to a positive impact on lead generation and shopping with convenience.
Customers have come to expect a seamless shopping experience across platforms and channels. So, companies are investing heavily into these efforts. Companies that don’t invest in these technologies will lag behind competitors. Companies that seize the opportunity to provide a better customer experience will succeed. Retailers need to set up multiple ways for customers to order and pick up their products to better take advantage of the convenience of online ordering and product pickup and delivery.
Companies are now investing in IT solutions to enable cross channel integration for customers to buy products from multiple platforms. Multichannel retailing not only includes 3rd party retailers, but also Amazon, Shopify, and many others.
Companies have adapted to survive the pandemic, and this is only the beginning. The shift in consumer behavior has caused the retail industry to be more agile and adaptable. The e-commerce space will evolve, providing customers with more opportunities for their convenience. To sum up, retail will lean towards online shopping with an increase in mobile shopping, consumer spending, social media and cross-channel integration. Remote working will increase and people will become more tech-savvy. Personalization and AI based-technologies in supply chain and customer service will propel retail to a new future.