As a result of COVID-19, the future of e-commerce will be overcrowded with new and unique opportunities, threats, and challenges. Thus, to capitalize on the e-commerce growth and out-perform new competitions, brands must scale their omnichannel strategy. Read on to discover key solutions.
Nearly 150,000,000 customers became first-time online buyers in the COVID-19 pandemic.
That’s, indeed, a lot of zeros, but it’s a good thing in this case. However, that’s not to say all numerical values with six zero places (or more) are inherently good. With the future of e-commerce experiencing continuous growth, brands will also witness their digital continent becoming increasingly overcrowded with all kinds of new migrations, possibly by the billions.
Therefore, to stand out in the packed e-commerce crowd, it is imperative that digital-first brands prioritize building and refining their omnichannel strategy to become fully immersive, unified, and just darn fierce. Yet, how would it be possible to scale when the future of e-commerce is continuously becoming overcrowded as any battleground we’ve seen? Well, at least, in movies.
Let’s find out.
The Future of E-Commerce: Messy But Not Smelly
In a recent article, we covered the impact of COVID-19 on digital transformation. Now, specifically relating to the future of e-commerce, we show that the industry was practically just a baby nearly a decade ago. Then, its 10-year growth transformed into a full-fledged-warrior in three months.
Before finding key ways to scale your omninchannel strategy, let’s see who keeps moving in down the street. Although, something does smell like fresher opportunities and daisies.
Overcrowded with New Customers: Former-Luddites-Turned-Techies
At the start of the pandemic, shop escalators worldwide were beginning to remain still, and more tumbleweeds blew across roads. Meanwhile, 84% of customers had migrated to online carts.
Most of the latest online shoppers are “Luddites,” a group known to be less technologically savvy and who mostly shopped offline before the pandemic. Gen Z and millennial customers also shopped online more, even more than before the pandemic.
The ever-growing switch to shopping on the internet leads to new customer behavioral changes for the future of e-commerce. There became a higher demand for traditionally offline essentials (groceries, hygiene, furniture, etc.). These also emerged as the new best online product categories. Not to mention, customers are now snapping their fingers for all things convenient, immediate, and simple.
Overcrowded with New Competition: The Retail Godzillas, the Traditional-Offline-Nerds-Turned-Digital-Prom-Kings, and the International Big Guns
The future of e-commerce consists of a messier and heated landscape with the rise of new competitions. More and more traditional offline wholesalers and global retail monsters broke their countless piggy banks and prioritized their digital customer experience strategies. International e-commerce brands became modern-day Vikings and seized more new customers abroad.
All at the same time, direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands had been sitting back, watching the fight around them with a sly grin. They’ve been thriving the most during the pandemic because the crisis only supported the convenience of the DTC business model. So, new e-commerce brands that keep entering should beware because DTC businesses are their direct enemy in 2021.
However, that’s not to say it will always be so jam-packed. As the post-pandemic world slowly recovers, gradual comebacks in 2021, such as the reopenings of U.S. retail brick-and-mortar businesses, will likely lower the country’s e-commerce growth to 7.8%.
Key Tactics to Scale Your Omnichannel Strategy and Prepare for Battle in the Future of E-Commerce
The future of e-commerce holds more unique opportunities, threats, and challenges based on the rise of new entrants in customers and competition. One of the biggest challenges is the growing number of high standards placed by consumers. As said before, brands must keep up with their need for speed and convenience.
To stand out in the overcrowded digital space, customer-centricity becomes an even more vital mindset for brands to hone. In particular, brands must scale their omnichannel strategy by optimizing commerce across all channels to deliver a seamless and fully immersive customer experience. Here are several key strategies to consider as a general base idea for your omnichannel strategy and then dig deeper into:
Unify, Synchronize, and Attack
As the first step toward scaling a brand’s omnichannel strategy, companies should have all product and customer data in a single place. The unification of your commerce platform will enable you to easily track, manage, and connect with workflows, data sources, different departments, and third-party activities.
At the same time, automatic synchronization of all data is vital because customers demand accurate and updated information in real-time across all channels. The integration of both sales and supply data is also necessary, making tracking origins of truths and performance across channels more efficient.
Mobile Optimization Takes the Gun
With many people on their phones nowadays, this is evident not only by our eyes but by actual research indicating that half of global online sales transactions occur on those 5-inch (more or less) touchscreens. Online stores can find which device type is most used (tablet, desktop, mobile) and configure their site to ensure the device’s display is highly responsive.
Consider an API-First Solution that Screams “Off with Their Heads!”
In the future of e-commerce, or more specifically in 2021, the adoption of a headless architecture is expected to grow. As an API-first method, going headless allows brands to separate the front-end customer experience from the back-end system. In turn, webshops can push shopping into any buyer experience, on any screen or website, among more benefits. Although, implementing a headless infrastructure is costly and often complex.
Make it a Quick Kill at Checkout
The most critical stage of your customer’s journey is the checkout. The fewer the steps to checkout, the more actual purchases there can be.
For instance, many e-commerce brands have linked their online storefront with a POS system and removed unnecessary steps in the checkout process. These can include implementing the “Buy” button on the product page to make a purchase directly. Also, asking to save customer payment data and “pay after delivery” solutions are other innovative ways to make checkout quicker and easier.
Bringing in Forces from All Sides with Online and Offline
By connecting the offline and online worlds, brands can make it easier and quicker for customers to do business with them. Even when in full-recovery mode from the pandemic, switching channels based on customers’ demands will be easier for brands.
Among some of the emerging technological trends in the future of e-commerce are augmented reality (AR), 3D modeling of products (even combined with AR features), livestream shopping experiences, and converting traditional offline experiences into virtual reality (e.g., virtual tours).
Fire Up with Omnichannel Feedback
At the end of the day, companies do not offer the customer experience. It is the customers themselves who provide it and control it. Brands should only provide support by building the necessary infrastructure, investing in new technologies, and making open room for any feedback.
Including omnichannel feedback into your strategy allows customers to leave reviews across all channels, thus ensuring that brands prioritize the ‘voice of the customer.’ Reviews can also influence sales, and brands encouraging customers to speak out on various channels can potentially lead to customer loyalty.
But, what can be more crowded than both new competitors and customers in the same room? The billions to trillions of customer feedback data floating out there. Therefore, one of the best solutions is an AI-based customer feedback analysis software that can help companies quickly and accurately filter through all the digital chaos. Plus, with minimal human errors.
Wonderflow: The Secret Weapon
Wonderflow is your AI VoC analytics solution that analyzes the vast amount of customer feedback texts after having scraped both public and private sources, such as reviews and contact center logs. Then, it publishes the results in an easy-to-use, omni-comprehensive dashboard, the Wonderboard, for all professionals to access within your company.
Among our numerous use cases, Wonderflow prevails in e-commerce. It is the most accurate and simplest tool to help you capture what customers think about your online product and service. Other benefits include:
- Increasing, monitoring, and predicting the rating of your products or services
- Seeing improvements on product pages based on accurate customer insights given
- Optimization of inventory and product rotation
- Increases in customer lifetime value while reducing churn
Get started with our free demo today to grow your e-commerce revenue and make customers happier.