Is e-commerce the future

What we all already suspected has now been confirmed by corresponding market studies: Corona has pushed online trading again.

The clear winners are everyday products such as food, pet food, medication and drugstore products (including the hotly contested toilet paper).

Before the pandemic and lockdown, consumers were still very hesitant to order these products, but order rates have been around around since March of this year 90 %increased.

Entry of conventional retail into the e-commerce sector

The general trend from brick-and-mortar retail to online shopping has already become clear in the last few years, even decades. So far, the development curve has been steep, but steady and predictable.

Just a year ago, the online magazine Handelsblatt.com wrote about the future of online shopping: “Only the grocery trade doesn't want to know anything about all of this.” Now retailers have been forced to react and catch up at record speed. This forecast from 2019 was of course calculated without the corona pandemic.

The pandemic acted like an ejection seat into the future. It wasn't a temporary stress test, but rather a blueprint for future developments in e-commerce.

The direction has not changed, all you have to do is press the fast forward button. Retailers who remain in a state of shock for too long and do not react to the sudden change in their customers' buying behavior may fall by the wayside. Companies in conventional retail in particular have to adapt quickly to the new conditions and react with new business concepts.

The most important weapon of stationary trade against e-commerce was unexpectedly defused by the pandemic - the leisure aspect. Covid-19 has changed our lifestyle forever - how we travel, how we celebrate, how we shop. Shopping is no longer a leisure activity or a social event, but has been reduced to the essentials. Shopping is only a means to an end, no longer an experience.

Retail must now respond to this. In the future, it is conceivable that consumers will "enter" the shops using virtual reality technologies, for example, and experience the shopping experience safely from home. That seems to be a long way off - but what is already happening are the following three trends.

Pointing the way for online trading: These 3 giant trends determined the future of e-commerce

Even without a pandemic, one thing has already become clear and is more explosive today than ever: Consumers are demanding a better online shopping experience.

The offer is growing steadily and many can no longer understand it. If the offer becomes too large, providers, retailers and platforms have to support the consumer in his search and decision. To achieve this, online retailers must be able to offer their customers the right products at the right time.

Trend 1: Personalization of online search

Endless rummaging and comparing when buying online will soon be a thing of the past. Products are offered individually at the right time. Personalized marketing is just getting started, but it is the key to successful marketing in the future.

To do this, e-shops and platforms not only have to know the customer journey of each individual customer, but also where they are on this journey. What is needed? What are we looking for? What is ultimately being bought? Personalized shopping knows the answers to these questions and thus benefits the consumer.

Digital shopping assistants will use personal information of consumers in the future to help the user to have a personalized and more pleasant shopping experience. The data for this comes from shared information from social media, search queries and past purchases.

The Personalization of online search will make online shopping easier in the future and significantly improve the shopping experience. The information required for this is already available. With everyday products in particular, purchases usually vary little and consumers will be grateful to have the right products suggested and not have to go through the huge range of products every time.

What is already known from personalized advertising will in future also be encountered by consumers in the shopping area. For example, with the help of topographical data, regionally adapted products can be offered or organic food can be suggested to environmentally conscious people - the consumer will welcome that.

Trend 2: Sustainable shopping

The search for the “cheapest” product has long been a thing of the past. There is a significant shift in the claims too sustainability and recognize quality. The desire for responsible shopping is getting stronger and stronger, is no longer reserved for a few quietly ridiculed Greenpeace supporters, but has now become a mass phenomenon. Consumers are slowly becoming aware that we do not have unlimited resources and are therefore increasingly focusing on sustainability.

The idea of ​​sustainability will change both society and the economy in the long term, because especially for young consumers between 18 and 25 years of age, conscious and sustainable shopping has become a matter of course. The demands placed on products, regardless of whether they are purchased online or in a physical location, have shifted, or rather expanded.

Price-conscious shopping is still in the foreground, but factors such as quality, transport routes, manufacturing processes and the sustainability of the product flow into the purchase decision, and consumers are much more often willing to pay more for corresponding products. In order to reduce the ecological footprint, consumers accept the additional expense, and for a better conscience they like to dig deeper into their pockets.

Sustainability is therefore a very welcome trend that, according to market researchers, will no longer go away and will permanently change trade, production and our entire economy.

Trend 3: Interactive shopping

Marketplaces and e-commerce platforms are booming: Ebay, the mother of all sales platforms, has found its way into German households at the same time as the Internet. What began as a platform for private sales has now become a lucrative marketplace for online retailers. Amazon Marketplace is currently the largest online platform in the world, with annual sales of 160 billion US dollars.

The popularity of marketplaces grows linearly with the range of goods. For consumers and retailers, the advantages are obvious: some appreciate being able to find many products from different providers on a single platform and benefit from it quick product and price comparisons. Dealers are exposed to a direct comparison with other providers, but at the same time they reach a much wider audience and increase their sales opportunities enormously.

The online offer is constantly growing and has now become somewhat confusing for the consumer. Consumers are looking for easy and quick ways to find the right product for them without wasting their time digging through countless websites. Sales platforms meet the desire for efficient shopping and unite many providers with countless products on one site.

Today, online shopping is usually still relatively cumbersome, for example according to the following concept: seen on social media - googled test reports - ordered on Amazon. That will change in the future as modern e-commerce platforms offer all of this on one platform. The consumer not only finds product descriptions and pictures here, but also customer ratings, customer pictures and even videos, and thus has price comparison, reviews and test results on one page.

The social media platform Instagram, for example, has developed into a very successful e-commerce platform in recent years, almost unnoticed by many users: With the introduction of Instagram shopping the jump to an interactive sales platform has finally succeeded.

With the integrated check-out process, users no longer have to leave the platform to place orders. Now it is possible to order the yoga pants that the favorite yoga influencer wore at today's sun salutation in Bali by clicking on the picture.

Instagram shopping combines content, product placement and very important social proof in one. The system works. And now the internet giant Google has also stepped up. With Shop loop Google brings a new form of shopping onto the market. Shoploop combines everything on a single platform and could play an important role in online shopping in the future. The product videos posted by the customers themselves not only offer trustworthy information about the product, but are also highly entertaining.

Source: Shoploop

The fact that Instagram is so successful as a sales platform is trend-setting for buying behavior in the coming years: In the future, purchases will only be made via various smartphone applications. Whether it's yoga pants or shopping at the fruit and vegetable dealer, online shopping becomes interactive and mobile.

Generation Y has now grown into a consumer group with a strong purchasing power. Millennials who grew up with the internet have seen all kinds of product promotions. What still worked for their parents today no longer impresses the “Generation Clarified”. What influences the purchase decision today are authentic product reviews, independent tests and social proof.

Much will change in the online shopping of the future. It will be personalized, green and interactive, with a strong entertainment character; it gets faster, easier and more fun. And for online retailers it will be one thing above all: an interesting challenge.

Note: This post is a guest post by Dr. Sebastian Decker, owner of the agency MARKETING FOR WINNERS and trainer of the Google future workshop.

Cover picture: oatawa / iStock Images / Getty Images Plus

Originally published October 28, 2020, updated 12 January 2021

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