4 min read
The world before and after the pandemic will never be the same - and e-commerce is there to prove it. We jump into 2021 with new needs, new buying habits, a new understanding of the very essence of shopping. Embracing fast-changing trends in an environment previously unknown to marketing is more difficult than ever - but still possible. Here are the main trends in online shopping that await us in 2021.
We must admit that even before the events brought by Covid-19, one big macro-trend in e-commerce was observed, namely, the trend towards a gradual transition of sales to the Internet and the steady increase in the number of online buyers. But it was COVID that became the catalyst stirring up the whole world, forcing us to look at things that were previously familiar to us in a dramatically different way. The latest events left us with no choice but to digitalize our everyday lives in one way or another. Previously active users of the network began to spend much more time on the Internet than before, while new users, thanks to recent changes, increased confidence in online purchases and became new hot targets for marketers. Both types of people have increased the number of online purchases in one way or another. Of course, this was more than predictable and could not go unnoticed by experts. As statistics show, most businesses have adapted their online sales in one way or another, entered new markets, and became available on new social networks. Skipping on the trend of digitalizing your sales would be like suicide for any business these days. As a result, the demand for digital marketing services has increased as never before. Moreover, we are witnessing the boom of a new era of online shopping, with more demanding and experienced customers, with much more competition in the digital environment.
One of the biggest advantages that the global pandemic has brought us is a huge number of online users who are discovering new spaces of the Internet, using different services as substitutes for the usual pastime that is not available in the conditions of the lockdown. Entertainment, education, hobbies, self-improvement - thousands and millions of active users are surfing the Internet looking to satisfy their needs… So why not take advantage of that and give your customers what they want? In these slightly destabilized times global online events, workshops and speeches, previously popular offline, can now be made available to a huge number of people. Make it as accessible as possible, as high-quality as possible, and let your name or brand shine (as ironic as it may sound) in the spotlight created by the COVID conditions. Do not forget that the social part of people’s lives has also massively moved online. Social networks enjoy the maximum demand and the number of new users. As most experts agree, the most important and main trend in e-commerce in 2021 is social commerce, namely the ability to make purchases within the boundaries of a particular social network. Introducing your product in an environment where people spend most of their time is a simple idea that needs to be executed 100 percent in 2021. Research shows that 87% of online shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision. Instagram, Facebook and other social networks have simplified the purchase process in recent years by integrating this feature into their apps. We should not forget about affiliate marketing, which is at the peak of its popularity: when people find themselves in the center of the information war for their attention to the product and have the opportunity to explore the market much more deeply than before, they need the opinion of people who are respected and trusted.
In whatever field you work, you’ve probably heard that AI is the future of the entire sales world. Most companies are gradually introducing AI into their operations, and giants such as Google and Microsoft are investing billions of dollars to develop artificial intelligence for their future interests. AI not only simplifies many processes - it gives us opportunities that are not feasible without the interaction of new technologies and humans. And e-commerce can too take advantage of this. How?
- By focusing on the user and maximizing personalization. AI can be used to “see the world through the eyes of the user” and choose the ideal recommendation for a particular case - an impossible job for an ordinary, even the most responsible employee. One simple example is to recommend music based on the one we liked earlier in Spotify.
- By introducing a visual search engine. An increasing number of applications and websites gives us the ability to search for the desired object from the image. So, for example, we can find the product we like by simply taking a screenshot from the video and uploading that image to the shopping app you are using. Not so long ago, this feature was a discovery. Today it is a necessity for effective sales.
- By introducing voice and virtual assistance. Nothing makes the purchase process easier for the customer than a virtual assistant - it not only creates the effect of maximum interactivity but also makes the customer’s experience pleasant and comfortable.
This and many other functions are already an integral part of many companies’ e-commerce strategy. With the development of technology in the coming years, we expect only a faster integration of AI into e-commerce processes as an indispensable part of them.
All of us have had experience with chatbots at least once, be it while shopping or when in need of technical support. Chatbots are designed to solve users’ most common problems and questions by simulating conversation with the consumer. The main goal of a chatbot is to create quick feedback. More than 60% of customers say that they prefer digital self-serve tools, such as websites, apps, or chatbots to answer their simple inquiries, with long wait times over the phone being the main reason for that. Chatbots can be an effective aid in many operations related to marketing and online business. In addition, it is a low-cost substitute for customer service. However, chatbots cannot completely replace customer service. At this stage, this is only an auxiliary option for your business. Although full integration of chatbots still has a long way to go, the development of chatbot technology is advancing so fast that if you ask whether to integrate this feature into your business, the answer is unequivocal - yes, it will definitely improve your online sales.
Despite the new challenges and changes in the field of email marketing, this area also remains dynamic while keeping up with the new needs of consumers. In the conditions of unprecedented competition in the market, email marketing should move away from focusing on the product and be more focused than ever on the unique needs of the buyer and be as personalized as possible, relying on the human factor - emotions, impressions, desires. Personalization should not be just a word for you, it should be the main vector of your work with the client. Remember that you don’t need to be a marketing expert in order to successfully sell your product. You can always outsource the social media and email marketing part of your business to an agency or a professional. And don’t forget about automation - the more processes you automate the more time you will have in your hands to focus on more strategically important things. For instance, Mailcheck integrated email API will make sure no bots will get into your email list - all this is done on the go. Just imagine how much time it would take if this was to be done by a human being. Email automation will also come in handy when sending various email notifications such as password reset, order confirmation or social media generated notifications.
In turn, investing in social networks and creating marketplaces on social platforms only demonstrates their importance in 2021. People trust the platform on which they spend most of their time. Trust, of course, significantly increases sales. Why search for a separate website for each category of the thing you need if everything can be found on one global market, in the reliability of which you are sure? As mentioned earlier, we are now seeing maximum engagement with social media, and that in turn creates a new sales channel for businesses (such as affiliate marketing or investment in influencer channels). As a result, many areas of digital marketing have changed in the conditions of COVID-19, without going beyond the boundaries of predictable megatrends. Digitalization of business, integration of artificial intelligence, chatbots, active sales in global markets and through social networks - these are the features that should be taken into account in 2021. Your role in it is simply to decide whether to keep pace with them.