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Digital Trends Driving Wholesale, Retail, and eCommerce into the Next Normal

Apr 19, 2021

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By Andrea Nalupa, Monstarlab Marketing

Part of our Wholesale, Retail, & eCommerce Series

As businesses and consumers are ushered into the next stage of overcoming pandemic conditions, wholesale, retail, and eCommerce continue to transform. Exploring and developing various strategies to meet evolved customer demands and keep up with the times, the sectors are diving straight into what we call the next normal – an empowered era where businesses take more control of their future and intently drive positive change. And these trends are laying the foundation.

Trends Leading the Way

1. Stores are driving more traffic into their digital branches

As contactless policies and door-to-door deliveries take over the industry, more and more companies are seeing the value of taking business online and making their online shops their flagship stores. With online selling becoming the most stable marketplace in the past year and consumers responding favorably to its conveniences, an increasing number of stores and sellers are prioritising and placing investments into their online shops this year. And as recent reports uncover that the pandemic has brought the number of online shoppers to an all-time high of 1.92 billion consumers, going online is proving to be the smarter choice [1].

2. Augmented reality and videos are reinventing shopping

Adding augmented reality (AR) and video to product viewing options has been a complete game changer for online businesses. Granting online shoppers a more ‘realistic’ shopping experience is proving to be a great way to engage customers and an even more fun method to inform them about your product or service. In fact, 35% of surveyed shoppers reported that they would purchase more online if they could virtually try products or see such products in 3D, and 22% stated they would be less likely to visit physical stores if AR was available in online stores [2]. With those numbers, it’s not hard to see why so many retail and eCommerce players are going for it.

We are expecting a lot more businesses to utilise AR for their products and businesses — so much so that it will become more standard in eCommerce and social media platforms. We’re seeing it put to use with larger companies, but I think we’re soon going to start seeing it become mainstream for businesses of all sizes.

– Tessa Wuertz, Director of Marketing & Partnerships, efelle.com

I see the use of podcasting and short video content to augment the opportunity for buyers to learn about how an eCommerce brand’s products and services provide the solution to the opportunity, challenge or problem a buyer is looking to answer. With these two forms of content development comes the technology to micro track a viewer’s engagement…

– Ron Smith, Editor in Chief, The Digital Outdoor

3. AI and Big Data are making the shopping experience even more personal

Ron Smith, Editor in Chief of The Digital Outdoor, once said that “People want to know that brands care about them.” And what better way to show you care than treating your valuable clients to special experiences built with their needs and quirks in mind? With AI continuously collecting data and analytics processing larger scales of information on how a customer shops and everything that goes into their purchasing process, businesses are learning more about up to millions of shoppers at a time and crafting personal experiences that can’t be replicated in-store. At this stage, these technologies can go as far as to give you instant recommendations, and who could say no to a treat, perfectly suited your preferences, that practically has your name on it?

We have reached the tipping point when it comes to showing irrelevant content. By implementing personalised shopping experiences across all channels to talking directly with your customer, you improve experiences, increase consistency and brand loyalty. If you have data, it can be overwhelming to identify user patterns and profiles for personalised experiences for thousands to millions of users at a time, but that’s why we use AI.

– Rasmus Mortensen, Head of Sitecore

4. Chatbots are becoming the best assistants

We are now years past the ‘chatbots for feedback’ era and are effectively training them into becoming our best sales associates yet. In fact, 80% of chatbots in the eCommerce industry already interact with online shoppers much like an in-store sales associate would do. With chatbots becoming more intuitive and working hand-in-hand with experience personalisation efforts, experts are finding that it can benefit companies placed anywhere in the sales process [3]; stepping in and saving sales 24/7.

I think that personal shopping assistant bots online will become more prevalent, using previous data to help anticipate new products that you’ll like. Similar to Amazon’s suggestions for similar products.

– Duran Inci, CEO of Optimum7

5. Headless and API-driven eCommerce allow continued innovation.

As it allows online platforms to be completely decoupled from presentation layers, the flexibility of going headless on backend together with its added SEO and content marketing capabilities is creating more effortless content dissemination for many companies. By enabling businesses to find sales opportunities across all devices and platforms without the nitty gritty of the usual backend development, this API-approach is maximising all notable online frontiers and allows companies to respond more quickly to new user demands; making it so easy to plug and play into any sensible digital strategy.

With headless, we get more control over our content and customer journey through checkout. We had a multi-region need that was solved for with the headless BigCommerce solution, allowing us to combine all of our stores into one single domain, for which we have developed additional features.

– Antonio Kaleb, eCommerce Architect, LARQ

Do these make sense for your business?

Though many novel technologies have emerged, not every trend is worth jumping on. Knowing what innovations will be a good fit for your business still comes down to how you will use it. After all, powerful as it may be, technology remains a tool.

Meet our Expert:

Rasmus Mortensen, Head of Sitecore, is our global lead for Web Personalization. He has racked up more than 15 years of experience in technology including designing and implementing highly personalized user experiences via Sitecore.       

Read more insights and see some of our works on Wholesale, Retail, & eCommerce

Endnotes:
[1] Statista, Number of digital buyers worldwide from 2014 to 2021, 2021
[2] Michael Prusich, 1Digital Agency Interview, 2021
[3] BigCommerce, eCommerce Trends That Are Powering Online Retail Forward, 2021

Other references:
McKinsey & Company, Rebooting Retail, 2020

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