Oniochalasia. The word quite simply means to ‘buy or shop as a way to relieve one’s stress’. Retail therapy is real and the era of digital commerce has made it easier for us to indulge in it right from our homes!
Indeed, the retail industry has undergone a tremendous change over the last year, such that walking around a supermarket ticking things off a grocery list seems like a distant memory. With the pandemic putting the accelerator on digital transformation, shopping has expanded beyond overstuffed aisles and intrusive salespeople into an intuitive, artificial intelligence-enabled activity done on a smartphone.
Clearly, the old retail rulebook no longer applies and businesses now have to evolve to meet the new challenges of the crowded e-commerce industry. Let’s take a look at the e-commerce trends that will disrupt the retail industry in 2021 and beyond:
1. AI: Making retail better every year
AI technology has come to provide a unique and personalized e-commerce user experience. This year too, powerful machine learning algorithms will continue to study user behaviour and provide smart analytics to e-commerce sites, resulting in a higher conversion rate. Capturing user behaviour-search and order history, wish lists, social media interactions, and geolocations–will deliver targeted messaging to shoppers and ensure customer delight and loyalty. AI-enabled chatbots will reduce turnaround time for support-related issues and improve brand loyalty.
2. AR: Be present without being present
Cutting-edge augmented reality technology on 3D-enabled smart gadgets will allow users to virtually shop in ways that even surpass visiting a physical store. Gartner predicted that 100 million consumers in 2020 will shop using AR online. 2021 will see many more.
The chances of a customer returning a product bought on an AR platform are significantly lower. As a result, e-commerce vendors will be able to conserve margins that were previously funnelled into meeting processing free returns.
Harvard Business Review states that 73% of retail shoppers use multiple channels to shop. Referred to as ‘omnichannel shoppers’, they use a combination of different channels to complete their shopping; these savvy shoppers have proved to be more beneficial to businesses than in-store buyers.
For instance, they may purchase the product online after comparing prices, checking reviews, and making payment through an e-wallet but instead of getting it delivered at their doorstep, they prefer to pick the product up directly at the store. Cloud platforms will be used to seamlessly integrate various channels of a retail business, making this arduous task possible, and even profitable, for the retailer.
4. E-wallets and cryptocurrency: Payments made easy
Over the last few years, e-wallets have played a conspicuous role in the rise of digital commerce. Digital wallets have reduced the user’s shopping time significantly by saving them the trouble of entering their credit/debit card information every time they need to make a payment. By partnering with third-party payment gateways that enable ‘buy now and pay later’, e-commerce retailers will continue easing the payment process and help customers instead spend time unleashing their full shopping potential. Cryptocurrencies are the new dollar bills and ecommerce sites will use the ‘Pay with Bitcoin’ option in their checkout pages.
5. Voice commerce: Alexa to the rescue
Thanks to AI, retail shoppers will pair smart devices to their e-commerce accounts and use voice commands to let virtual assistants shop for them. This way, the need to physically handle the device is entirely eliminated (a bonus in the post-pandemic world).
An overwhelmed new mother can simply call out, “Hey Alexa, order a pack of diapers on Amazon”, to an AI-enabled smart device. Alexa then takes her through two or three simple steps to complete the purchase and, ta-da, the diapers arrive without the customer so much as lifting a finger.
6. Dynamic Pricing: Tackle competition with dynamic pricing
Shoppers look for the lowest price when the same product is listed across multiple e-commerce sites. A commerce cloud solution with a dynamic pricing feature makes it easier for retailers to make a good margin while still offering a competitive price in the crowded retail market.
7. Mobile commerce: The future of shopping
Business Insider predicts mobile commerce will hit $488 billion by the year 2024. A mobile-friendly format is the need-of-the-hour for any retailer, the reason being a shopper can indulge anywhere, anytime. Helped along by mobile apps that are simple, light, and user-friendly, m-commerce is bringing ease and delight to shopping.
Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Magento e-commerce are the two popular choices of digital commerce solutions for retailers to seamlessly digitize their business. Businesses that do not have the bandwidth for a complete digital transformation can use cloud-based solutions for quick, smooth online launches with all the snazzy features that attract e-shoppers. See how we can help you bring your retail business into 2021.
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