E-commerce Trends All Businesses Should Know About in 2021

E-commerce Innovations – Let’s Discover What’s New and Next for Online Shopping

E-commerce trends and online shopping across any given year rarely sit still. Innovations disrupting the way we search, share and shop seem to pop up faster and faster: voice-shopping, for example, and augmented reality. Or how about delivery-by-drone? Or even product-personalisation courtesy of 3D printing?

E-commerce then, or more accurately the advances that keep online shopping innovative and inviting, are agile. Intuitive. Always one step ahead of the game. And unafraid to herald themselves as the next big thing.

Incoming Trends. Improved Experience

In this post, Hookson looks at some exciting incoming e-commerce trends and how, against the backdrop of Covid-19, these shifts and solutions can continue improving customer experience.

At a Time of Social Distancing, Getting Closer to Your Customers will be More Important Than Ever

One of many outputs of Covid-19 was the tangible need it provoked for community and trust. As the pandemic continues, smart businesses – both online and on high streets – will respond with technical innovations that make shopping easier and safer, alongside efforts that deepen their community connection.

So, with closeness and community firmly on trend:

Embrace the technical

Think about how you can add useful, meaningful value to your customers and community. From a purely e-commerce perspective that might involve the phygital solutions – like making digital payments easier – discussed further down this blog.

Drill into your data

Since the dawn of retail, knowing your customer has been crucial. And since the emergence of e-commerce, the gathering of customer information has been even more important. Why? Because information feeds the personalised content and experiences shoppers love. It’s at the heart of targeted messages and campaigns. And it’s the key to connecting with your customers and your community.

So spend some rewarding hours analysing the stats that tell you where you’re winning and where you can improve. Covid will be casting a long shadow and e-commerce businesses will do well to stay as appealing as possible

Demonstrate you care

But do it authentically. Alongside community, big words around Covid spoke of compassion. Care. Heroes. Togetherness. Even businesses operating exclusively online are part of communities. Doing simple things like supporting local charities or collecting for food banks go a long way towards connecting with those communities.

Memorable Experiences Count

Now, more than ever, to shoppers weary of distancing, those e-commerce trends around connection are front and centre. At Hookson, we can help your business build relationship that count, and develop non-invasive ways to get closer to your customers.

Now, more than ever, to shoppers weary of distancing, connected e-commerce moments are firmly on trend.

Let’s Get Phygital – Phy-gi-tal

Take note, spellcheckers, phygital is a word you’ll soon be decorating with your squiggled red underline a whole lot more.

Phygital marketing seeks to combine the best aspects of physical and digital commerce. The end result is first-rate customer service and experience: seamless and friction-free as the shopper moves between bricks and clicks.

Abstract on a page, phygital is best demonstrated via a real-world example. So step forward Amazon Go.

The Convenience Store, Amazon-Style

When Amazon built its chain of US-based grocery stores it combined the connected physical shopping experience with the convenience of digital innovation. As shoppers added to basket (their own, real one), items were automatically scanned. Next, with all the confidence of a seasoned shoplifter, customers simply walked from the store. No queuing. No checkout. But unlike a sticky-fingered lifter, Go shoppers had paid automatically via their Amazon account. And on their phone: a receipt to prove it hadn’t all just been a dream.

The Human Touch

Left at that, the Amazon Go experience would be convenient for sure. But also pretty clinical. So enter Amazon Associates – or, to you and me ‘the people who work in the shops’.

Associates are there to greet customers, restock shelves, handle enquiries. It might not sound like much, but those Associates are at the heart of first-class phygital marketing. Because, somewhat ironically (and also somewhat comfortingly), it’s at those moments of human interaction when the phygital experience will be at its most authentic and memorable.

Reading this and thinking but hang on, Hookson, I’m not Jeff Bezos? Never fear, because…

Phygital Will be Fit for Every Business

The physical and digital worlds can work seamlessly on a smaller scale, making digital experiences more personal, and face-to-face transacting far safer:

Incorporating a real-time inventory into a website means customers can click and collect.

A business of any size can set up pay-by-mobile systems like ApplePay and PayNow.

Use of ordering apps – Wetherspoon pubs is a good example – transforms the customer experience.

Pop-up stores or stands deliver hands-on experiences of online goods and services – great for brand-building too.

The takeout? Phygital is an approach that’s right for any size of business. And it needn’t cost the earth. Third-party apps and innovations deliver customer-pleasing differences in a flash. Hookson keeps pace with these advances and we’ll be happy to advise your business.

Phygital innovations will continue revolutionising businesses and elevating customer experience

Phygital marketing combines the best aspects of physical and digital commerce. The result is first-rate customer service and experience: seamless and friction-free as shoppers move between bricks and clicks.

Direct-to-Consumer: the E-commerce Trend That Will be Scoring a Direct Hit

Cutting out the middleman succinctly defines the Direct to Consumer (DTC) retail approach. The direct route is a trend that’s been gathering pace for a while. Unsurprisingly, it’s quickening and experiencing greater take-up due to Covid’s implications for face-to-face selling.

Real-world example? Take a look at Dollar Shave Club, which sells its grooming products DTC-style. Online, customers build their unique profile from which the business bases product recommendations. As well as convenient and direct, it’s a highly personalised service.

Super for Subscriptions

DTC is a terrific fit for a subscription model too: regular supplies of products – for example, those Dollar Shave bits and pieces like razors and gels, soaps and oils – bring consumers much-needed reliability at a time of uncertainty (and they bring also a predictable revenue stream for your business).

DTC is Great News for Merchants and Customers

For shoppers the benefits are often lower prices, faster shipping and a tailored offering. For the retailer? It’s a lean and nimble way to do business: economical, responsive and just the ticket for both those deeply engaged with online shopping and those being pushed in that direction.

The DTC approach is one bringing companies closer to their customers too, and the data that brings can feed into highly attuned campaigns, offers and promotions.

DTC, whether it’s the core of the business or it’s an exciting new complement to a real-world store, requires a robust, feature-filled e-commerce website. You can speak with Hookson any time about our responsive, customised, built-for-business sites.

The future of e-commerce after Covid-19

Even More E-commerce Trends to Watch out for

We’ve majored on the three big-hitting e-commerce trends above. But let’s take a quick look at some incoming and ongoing advances to keep an eye on.

The March of Mobile Commerce will Continue

Not an e-commerce trend so much as an established fact. Shoppers have been warming to mobile for years. So if your business isn’t making a big splash on the small screen you’re risking reputation and driving frustrated customers to competitors. Mobile commerce is becoming a default, which is why, as a fellow default, every Hookson e-commerce site is mobile-responsive.

Flexible Payment Options will Lead Big-Ticket Purchases

Retailers offering payment solutions like Afterpay and Affirm are likely to trump the competition. Happily, it’s a breeze to add these options to Hookson’s Shopify-based e-commerce websites.

Visual Commerce will be Looking More Important Than ever

Going way beyond attractive product shots, engaging visual commerce embraces videos, interactive content and augmented reality apps like IKEA’s Place app. It measures your room before recommending furniture to fill it with. Consumer-generated content – photos and videos from across social media – continues getting hotter too, and is authentic, trustworthy and shareable.

Social Media will Keep us Spending

With shoppers looking beyond traditional marketing messages and campaigns, social media will remain a key influencer. Brands will need to continue growing their social media presence to appeal to shoppers via both social advertising and through user-generated buzz.

Voice Shopping is Getting Louder

As smart speakers and voice assistants gain more traction (think Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana) it’s inevitable that voice shopping – asking Alexa to grab that bottle of conditioner – will follow. Not quite there yet, this is one innovation that’s nevertheless worth listening out (and preparing) for.

Here at Hookson we’ll be watching this, and all emerging e-commerce trends, closely.