This is an article by Sergei Prakapovich. He is an SEO-specialist at Amasty. He’s passionate about SEO and digital marketing. He loves keeping abreast of trends, new technologies and cases within the international search industry.
The world of retail is definitely undergoing fundamental changes at present; most of them are attributable to technology introduction and its becoming ever more commonplace in all domains of human lives. However, it is not all about technology; an aspiring business retailer should also take into account the new business models affecting e-commerce, as well as changing consumer behaviors and expectations. This article gives a brief account of projected trends and expected changes in the world of e-commerce, with relevant implications of these evolutionary changes for both merchants and users of their services.
Internet is crushing department stores
People used to go to department stores when they needed to buy a variety of products in one place. And it is still working that way for many people. But let’s think if it is a feasible shopping mode in future. The world speeds up every day and we keep looking for options to get everything done with less time and energy. So, it is obvious that the Internet can offer millions of items at a click. Thus, it seems that in the next couple of decades (if not years) to come, going shopping to the department store might turn into a curious old-fashioned hobby rather than a part of everyday life.
Online retail will diminish the need for offline stores
Even today it’s hard to find a relatively big and successful offline store that has not yet built its presence online. In fact, in the 21st century, if you are not online, everyone doubts you exist! So, in the next few years, the online retail is expected to win ever more customers – you can already observe the process of offline stores offering more options and items online. Going online is cheaper, faster, and more convenient for both customers and the merchant, so it is not surprising that the era of online retail is gaining momentum, while most offline stores are staying in the past.
Mobile is the Internet
While everything is getting faster, all the devices are getting smaller, lighter, and more portable. No wonder that mobile phone is the main device with the help of which everyone is going to communicate, surf the Internet, and shop in future. The representatives of youngest generation already feel surprised when they come across a website without a mobile app, and this is only a start – it seems very realistic that only in couple of years, everyone will only use notebooks and computers to do some serious technical tasks. Everything else will be done on mobile phones and tablets; in 2016, over $100 billion sales were made on mobile and desktop devices only, and the figure is expected to continue growing. This sounds like quite a lucrative trend to catch, doesn’t it?
Social media is a key driver of E-commerce
Advertising used to be the greatest tool to tell people that your store exists, but now that there are advertisements everywhere, it is no longer effective. Today, people want open communication; they trust opinion leaders and want to know what ideas are staying behind each brand. And that’s why social media is a new main tool and a key driver of e-commerce. Because of this, communication between brands and customers is expected to get closer and less formal, so brands already acting like that are in the winning situation. It is thus imperative for business to learn efficient social sharing to increase their online presence, convert more visitors into customers, and to take a decent share of the online business of the future.
E-commerce while messaging
Similar to people preferring brands to be more open and act more human, messaging is becoming an important e-commerce tool. A merchant can send texts about sales, special offers or some personal sets of items based on their preferences and previous purchases. It also can be a message conversation with a consultant on a website. The only way to be in trend is to implement this tool into your business and make it as personal as possible.
VR, AR and wearable devices
Augmented reality and Virtual reality are not science fiction anymore; they are finally becoming our commonplace reality. With the help of a wearable device like Google’s Glass, most merchants will soon have a chance to link the real world and virtual reality in comprehensive augmented devices and technologies, which promises a new exciting shopping experience. You will be able to know much more about what your customers want and (what’s even more important) will have an opportunity to provide them with this experience.
Online stores have to fit in
With all those changes taking place abruptly and changing the online marketplace forever, business owners are urged to keep pace with the changes and address new customer needs, which are mostly tied to cross-platform usability, easy navigation, mobile accessibility, and intuitive interfaces. Amasty’s Magento extension is one of solutions enabling handy and quick optimization of the online shop to users’ demands via quick and simple navigation, sorting by brand, and intuitive menu allowing shoppers to find everything they need very quickly. As it was righteously noted by founders of Colgate-Palmolive, the main word characterizing a consumer of the future is “convenience,” with any product available to shoppers anytime and anywhere, the way they want it. Thus, in the modern highly competitive market of everyone shopping online, the winner will be the one who makes the site’s use comfortable and fun.
As it comes from the discussed trends, the irreversible change is already here; it has affected the way in which people interact, search for products to buy, and conduct shopping. Businesses are also changing in line with the context changes, but the key focus of e-commerce players should remain on the consumer. Understanding what drives users to select one shopping destination in favor of the other one, discerning the features of appealing interfaces and commercial appeals, and learning to deal with shoppers of the 21st century is a hard battle, but the winner takes it all. Thus, businesses that capture the essence of change and find an appeal to new customers are doomed to commercial success and grand revenues!