The current times are unpredictable, to say the least. 2020 has been a strikingly challenging year for everyone. Businesses are finding themselves dumbstruck at the hands of a pandemic that has toppled the strongest of the world economies gravely.
Travel, food businesses, entertainment, real estate, and even brick-and-mortar stores are reaping heavy losses. Where most industries are witnessing an unprecedented slump COVID-19 has thrust eCommerce into the spotlight.
Now, pandemic or no pandemic, eCommerce has always been exposed to constant change at the hands of disruptively evolving customer demands. Thanks to digitally smart and savvy customers demands out of eCommerce are growing in complexity each passing day. So much so, that product quality or a pricing-edge no longer guarantee long-term customer loyalty. Those are good cards to have in your stack. The Ace, however, is customer experience.
Think about beauty retail experiences for example. Those select ‘future-forward’ retailers who introduced the world to virtual touch-ups are booming big time. The idea that propelled this ‘virtual’ experience was, of course ,convenience.
People don’t have the patience and the time to try out makeup products in real life. Plus, those who want to buy from the comforts of their homes should also have the advantage of being able to try before they buy.
The dawn of a pandemic like Covid-19 has only further superimposed the importance of this customer experience trend. Who could have thought that trying on makeup physically before you could buy it would suddenly become a strict no-no? And that the only option you’d be left with is a virtual try-before-you-buy.
As the world around you evolves your best survival instinct is to change with it! Focusing on customer experience future trends can give you a leg to stand on even in the murkiest of waters. Sephora and Ulta have proved this by changing the rules of the customer experience game for the better.
Tapping into customer experience trends now on is going to occupy the center-stage for eCommerce businesses. For a start, we compiled for you a list of five such trends to help you survive the slippery retail landscape in 2020 and beyond.
5 substantial customer experience trends that set the future of eCommerce
The past ten years laid the pathway for eCommerce becoming one of the biggest industries in the world. The times ahead are even more promising and fascinating to look at. Buzzing in eCommerce and retail this year are some promising customer experience trends that will redefine the future of shopping. Let’s dive into five such front-page trends, right away.
‘Mobile-first’ will become a prime playing field
If you aren’t already providing a positive mobile experience you are putting your business out on a limb. And, we have solid stats to back this statement.
- 52.3 million people in America are ‘mobile-only’ internet users. That’s more than ⅓ rd of their entire internet population!
- Mobile now dominates the world-wide market share, leaving desktop and tablet way behind.
- You’ll lose 50% of your hard-earned customers if your website isn’t mobile-friendly. On the contrary, if your store is designed with mobile in mind, 74% of your visitors will make an assured return. (Think with Google)
Needless to say, optimizing for mobile is important. Any eCommerce store webdesigner worth their salt will design keeping user-friendliness in mind. However, that trend is no longer enough to keep your mobile customers happy. Mobile-friendliness has been replaced by the next new fancy thing – mobile-first experience.
This ‘design technique’ is laser-focused on enhancing – speed, ease, and convenience of shopping. It’s built to facilitate shopping on the go. It considers what really matters when you are looking up items on your mobile device as compared to a desktop (like big clickable buttons on your navigation menu). And, then, designs for an enriching experience for the former. Providing customers with exactly what they are looking for, ruthlessly cutting down on all the friction and noise, a mobile-first experience is sure to dominate the game in 2020 and beyond.
Personalization will continue to win the limelight
Personalization has long been the holy-grail for eCommerce businesses working at improving customer engagement and loyalty. And, in the coming times, this trend is only going to reinforce its prominence.
- Using smart personalization engines will push your profits up by 15%
- 91% of consumers, as per an Accenture survey, are more likely to buy from brands that target them with relevant, personalized offers.
- 70% of millennials (surveyed) have absolutely no qualms with retailers tracking their browsing and shopping behaviors in exchange of better, highly relevant purchase experience.
The internet is brimming with statistics on how personalization is at the forefront of customer experience for eCommerce. What’s evolved about this trend though is its scale and scope. 2020 and beyond will see a huge shift towards hyper-personalization.
Augmented by artificial intelligence customers will be served highly curated shopping experiences that feel as if they were truly carved only for them.
For example, based on the customer profiles you’ve created using their historical data, you could recommend the best snack options available in your grocery store, as per the current diet plan your customer is following. On Keto, anyone?
Chatbots and virtual assistants will see wide-scale adoption
Consider these two options in case you were to return an order. Would you prefer:
- Going to the eCommerce store website, scrolling through their endless FAQs about order returns, and finally placing the return request.
- Dropping a message on Facebook Messenger chatbot and getting your return quickly processed?
The world loves ‘instant’. Instant coffee. Instant picture uploads. Instant payments. And, even instant interactions. That’s why, we bet you chose option B.
Chatbots and other virtual assistants have added the kind speed, ease, and convenience that customers look forward to. Thanks to these tools, customers can now strike up real-time, two-way interactions with eCommerce brands at their convenience. Not only do these virtual tools facilitate speed but are just as ‘human’ and ‘intelligent’ as any of us. And that’s probably why:
- Gartner predicts that by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be handled by a virtual assistant.
- Juniper Research forecasts that by 2023, chatbot ecommerce transactions will hit the $112 billion mark annually.
- The virtual assistant global market size is expected to reach USD 45.1 billion by 2027!
Given that humanizing chatbot interactions is now possible customer experience with online shopping has become way less tiresome, and much more interactive. Purposeful eCommerce players are doing their best to make online shopping a fun and engaging experience.
H&M’s Kik chatbot is a befitting example here. The bot asks customers to select photos of apparels that they like from the H&M collection. It then asks them to define their style: Casual, Peppy, Classic, Comfort, Boho, etc. Once it has created a style profile for you it sends personalized outfit suggestions for you to buy. Sounds much more fun than the usual on-site browsing and adding-to-cart routine, right?
Data privacy and transparency will be high on demand
The internet is brimming with stories about eCommerce fraud owing to data theft and breaches. Research has it that:
- Credit card fraud is now the #1 type of Identity theft fraud
- Account takeover theft is up by almost 80%
- Data breaches that result in exposed personal information records has been increasing by 54 percent year-on-year
Both merchants and customers lose miserably to cybercrime. Where shoppers face the risk of identity and information theft, eCommerce merchants suffer heavy chargebacks.
For every $1 from a chargeback, your eCommerce businesses could lose $3.95. That’s nearly 4 times! Additionally, you could suffer a downgraded reputation that’s tough to recover from.
Everytime a breach occurs it hits the trust of eCommerce shoppers. They may not find it safe to share their card information with you. They may no longer feel comfortable sharing yottabytes of their important data with you. They already have trust issues with tech giants like Facebook that fail to handle sensitive private user information with caution.
This is a difficult dilemma, because crafting better customer experience is impossible without data, and you can’t get data without having your customers’ full trust. Having a superior data privacy and transparency structure is going to be a frontline customer experience trend in 2020 and beyond, given that it is a win-win for both eCommerce and its customer base.
As a result, the world will see the emergence of newer fraud prevention techniques and tools. Blockchain technology has already proved to be a masterstroke on this front. Multifactor authentication, Out-of-band authentication, 3D secure protocols, ephemeral information application, and a number of other sophisticated techniques are out in the battlefield to fight fraud and provide a 100% safe, well defended shopping experience.
Internet-of-things will drive truly ‘connected’ omnichannel experiences
In the bid to improve customer experience throughout their non-linear journey’s, eCommerce merchants are now looking up to IoT. Deriving insights from the pool of data that can be collected from all the smart devices that a shopper uses, eCommerce players are looking at crafting seamless omnichannel shopping experiences for customers. As a result:
- The global IoT retail market is set to hit USD 35.5 billion by 2025
- Retailers’ spend on IoT is likely to hit $25 billion in 2020 itself
IoT devices like sensors and RFID tags are gaining rapid popularity given that they have made it super easy for merchants to accurately track inventory demand and store. This in-turn ensures that customers who’ve searched up an item online always find it in-stock even if they choose to shop it in-store. Now, that’s a truly seamless omnichannel experience!
Thanks to the declining cost of IoT sensors even small or medium-sized eCommerce merchants can now leverage IoT. You don’t have to be a Zara or a Nike to win the omnichannel customer experience game.
Ever thought about using fixtures like LED lights, which have built-in bluetooth beacons or sensors? Using these smart IoT enabled devices you could locate users ( who are also searching items on your app as they walk in-sote) to locate and guide them to their desired shelf by pulling the search data that they are feeding or have saved on their app. Interesting times, right?
The only way any eCommerce business can survive today is by creating customer loyalty. Given that today’s customer is spoilt for choice and is digitally extremely smart winning customer loyalty is tough business.
The kind of experience you provide can be the hook that keeps pulling back repeat visitors and buyers for you. How do you create such an experience in times that are highly disruptive? This is where keeping updated with the latest trends will come in handy. We hope the five customer experience can help you make incremental improvements. Do write-in to share how implementing any of the above worked for you.