December 4, 2020

6 Trends Changing The Way We Do E-commerce

At this magical time of year, we’re usually inundated with reindeer, festive lights and carols aplenty to remind us that Christmas is fast approaching. This year COVID-19 has seen our shopping experiences change drastically with more purchases being done online than any of the years prior. According to recent statistics, e-commerce is set to reach R67 billion by the end of 2020.

During a consumer survey in May, Google found the main driver behind online shopping in South Africa to be convenience, with 77% of participants citing it as their main reason. This was closely followed by the ability for the product to be delivered directly to their home at 42%.

With these key insights in mind, the team at Black Snow have put together trends that will change the way that businesses do e-commerce and will assist you in taking your online offering to the next level.


Augmented Reality

The nature of augmented reality (AR) is to make the intangible more tangible by bringing the digital into the real world. This solves one of the biggest drawbacks to shopping online; being unable to try on or visualise the product on your body or in your house. According to insights by Retail Perceptions, 71% of surveyed participants would shop at a retailer more often if it had AR,  65% want product information through AR and 40% are willing to pay more for a product if they can experience it first through AR. This considerably shortens the consideration/evaluation phase within a consumer’s buying process.


Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the e-commerce landscape by processing large amounts of consumer-generated data from online behaviour to continuously learn and adapt displayed content and find methods of streamlining the consumers online buying process. According to a prediction by Gartner, by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions globally will be handled by AI completely. AI can be used to create recommendation engines that analyse consumer behaviour in order to provide recommendations more accurately. A study by Mybuys of over 100 online retailers found that the use of recommended products increased the conversion rate by 915% and average order values by 3%. AI can also be used for automating certain functions such as logistics, inventory management and customer service. Virtual assistants and chatbots can provide 24-hour support whilst simultaneously learning and improving over time. The fashion company Natori saw a 84% increase in conversions in the first 6 months of implementing an AI-driven platform.


Data and Personalisation

One of the most important ways that AI can be used is to gather large amounts of consumer-data. This data doesn’t only need to be used for recommendations and remarketing. It should be used to enrich the customers user journey and overall experience with personalisation. A 2019 study by BCG found that customers were 110% more likely to add items to their baskets when the shopping was highly personalised and they were 40% more likely to spend more than they had planned. This highlights the fact that personalisation has a direct impact on consumer experience. In a recent study by Astute, it was found that 73% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations (but only 51% of customers feel that companies do that) and over one third of customers stop doing business with a brand they love after only one bad experience.


Google Lens

Google Lens is a new visual search tool that makes use of photos recorded by your smartphone camera. It uses machine learning and its pre-existing database of query data to translate the picture into a Google search for familiar results. Not only can Google Lens read text from the images themselves, but its current method for identifying objects allows it to continuously improve on its precision. Currently, Lens is able to recognise over a billion products – 4 times more than it could identify at its launch. Like normal Google searches, the results of the Google Lens search makes use of Google’s Knowledge Graph (the stored data that provides the information that appears at the top of the results page) and provides the same mobile shopping options that would be displayed through a normal search.  Thus, for ecommerce businesses hoping to rank among the first Lens search results, the standard rules of search engine optimisation (SEO) would still apply. Additionally, when a user scrolls through Google Lens search results, they will be sifting through plenty of content that looks alike. Consequently, it is important to differentiate your products through detailed, helpful descriptions and professional product photographs that are fully mobile-optimised.


Supporting Sustainability and Social Issues

In the wake of global floods, wildfires, and other climate disasters as well as the ongoing prevalence of poverty and violence in South Africa, consumers are becoming more conscious of the effects of their purchases on their communities and environment. During a recent local survey by Google, it was found that over 80% of participant’s purchasing choices were influenced by whether a brand appeared to care about social or sustainability issues. The ethics found to be most important to consumers include investing in sustainability, ensuring fair working conditions, avoiding harmful ingredients and additives, avoiding long delivery routes and producing products in an environmentally friendly way. There are many ways in which your business can give back to communities and support sustainability. You can partner with a charity, sponsor charity events, donate a portion of proceeds to a cause or provide an opportunity for customers to donate on your check-out page. To show your support for sustainability, you can make use of biodegradable/recyclable packaging, source ingredients and materials from accredited fair-trade organizations and save energy through conservation practices and eco-friendly machinery/technology.


Voice Search

Voice search popularity is rising rapidly with ComScore reporting that more than half of all smartphone users are engaging with voice technology in 2020. In order to take advantage of this fast-growing trend, it’s important to optimise your e-commerce website specifically for voice. To do this, it’s important to try to get your website zero-ranked on Google search. This is the snippet that appears above the first search result on Google and will be the only result that will read out in response to voice searches. While the precise method to achieving this has been difficult to find, there have been some brands who have made considerable efforts to experiment with the snippet feature to define best practice. Marcelo De Vivo, CEO of Gryffin, had some interesting insights including adjusting FAQs and word counts and making use of paragraphs, bullets, tables and numbers. Additionally, aside from consumers asking full questions instead of keywords, they also make use of interrogative words (what, when, where, why, etc) so it is important that your content clearly and concisely answers these questions. Lastly, remember to take the consumers user journey into account. Google reports that 27% of the entire online global population is using voice search on mobile, so ensure that your ecommerce site is mobile-optimised and that the user-journey for mobile and voice is geared towards conversion.

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The secret to effective e-commerce is always changing within the digital landscape so be sure to partner with Black Snow Group, the company that knows how to make the most out of the holiday season.

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