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History has shown that pandemics and outbreaks have fueled the development of e-commerce.
In 2003, Alibaba had to quarantine almost all employees due to an employee's positive SARS diagnosis. That time became the incubation period when Jack Ma perfected the Taobao website and launched his first C2C eCom platform. The SARS coronavirus pandemic has been a buffer for Taobao and Alibaba as a whole as they posted immense gains.
During a pandemic, online transactions become a habit for a large part of the world's population. The Covid-19 pandemic is not that different from SARS. Both are from China and both have resulted in a shift in the e-commerce space.
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However, 2020 is about much more than Covid-19. The massive changes in customer behavior we have observed go beyond Covid and are so extensive that they are expected to become the pillars of the new e-commerce frontier. These are expressions of customer behavior that every ecommerce entrepreneur, new and old, should consider in 2021 and beyond.
1. Video marketing is the focus
Ecommerce marketing used to be about text and text, then it gradually became image-based. Now the focus is on video marketing as the main medium for on-site marketing for e-commerce companies.
This has always been the goal of on-site marketing and product reviews, and it could see it take over the mainstream in 2021. Creating the perfect on-site experience is critical to the success of any ecommerce business and a major determinant of final sales.
Product videos are comprehensive in nature without feeling bulky or boring. They bring storytelling to life, provide a comprehensive view of the product in action, and answer customer questions all at once. When done right, product videos are a combination of marketing, reviews, and answers to common questions.
The statistics now tend largely in favor of video marketing, so it's impossible to ignore them at the new frontier of ecommerce.
These numbers show a clear truth: video marketing will define ecommerce for this decade and likely beyond.
2. Voice commerce has become a defining force
The increased use of voice-enabled devices like Google Assistant, Siri and Alexa has become a defining feature of many of our lives. Over the past 3 years, trust in these systems has expanded to include product search and even purchase.
This has become increasingly popular mainly due to the increased effectiveness and accuracy of this technology. With Amazon and Google now pushing regional languages forward, e-commerce companies have adapted quickly.
It is predicted that 75% of US households will have smart speakers by 2025 and that revenue through voice commerce will soar to a massive $ 40 billion by 2022.
The reality of this development is clear: e-commerce companies whose websites are optimized for voice search will drop more and more customers freely into their conversion funnels.
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Ecommerce businesses should start creating content that increases the likelihood of appearing in voice searches, including voice-based in-app and on-site navigation. This is how you will get your slice of the giant $ 40 billion cake starting in 2021.
3. Social shopping and trade are becoming a mainstay
87% of ecommerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a purchase decision. This trend is supported by the rapid increase in mobile usage and shopping. 73% of total e-commerce sales are expected to be on mobile devices by the end of 2021.
In 2019, Instagram launched its e-commerce checkout feature. This did not become an instant hit, but has gradually become popular with marketers over time.
Facebook, Pinterest, and even Tiktok got it and are now starting to incorporate or popularize their in-app buying features so customers can purchase items without ever leaving the social media app.
4. The rise of AR in e-commerce
If you've used the usual goofy Snapchat filters or tried to catch a Pokemon before, you've already used Augmented Reality (AR) in some way.
Augmented Reality has been around for a very long time, some even arguing in front of social media, but it's only now becoming mainstream and is likely to be a defining feature of e-commerce in 2021 and beyond.
A Statista study estimates that AR technology would have become an industry of 18 billion US dollars by 2023. It is also predicted that consumer spending on AR embedded mobile apps will reach $ 15 million by 2022.
These are hard numbers that are hard to ignore, especially when we see how they are used in ecommerce. For example, Sony Electronics recently launched the Envision TV AR app to "test before you use it".
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One of the main criticisms of e-commerce over the years has been that customers cannot "experience" the product before purchasing it. AR will solve this problem.
E-commerce companies in the furniture sales sector are already introducing AR apps or in-app functions that customers can use to view a 3D model of the product, check its size, take technical data into account, fit it into their space and virtually design their interior before you decide to buy.
This technology is still evolving as it affects ecommerce, but when I look at the speed of its development it's pretty clear that it will even trump video.
63% of shoppers say AR would change their shopping experience. Another 70% are expected to be more loyal to AR-compliant brands as part of their shopping experience.
The development of e-commerce is exciting and its potential is enormous. However, it requires amazing agility from ecommerce companies and brands.
It seems to me that brands that have a head start will enjoy a bigger slice of the pie. My advice? Start today to keep moving with the trends.