Picture this, it’s a Saturday afternoon and you head to the mall to do some shopping, but here’s the thing, you get there and it’s over-crowded and all your favourite stores don’t have the items you wanted in stock. What a drag that you came all this way for nothing. Shopping in a mall can fill people with stress and anxiety but advancements in online shopping now provide people with the option of doing the same thing without the hassle of leaving their couch or bed.

As consumers now have access to smartphones and tablets, e-commerce is turning into a booming industry. Statista is predicting retail sales from the worldwide e-commerce market will reach 4.9 trillion U.S dollars by 2021. According to another report, in Canada alone, revenue generated through the e-commerce market is expected to increase to $29 billion by 2021 which is a big jump from 2016 when it was at $18.3 billion.

So, where do we go from here? The following post looks at the e-commerce industry overall and how it has been growing and recently been keeping up with consumer trends. We’ll look into the different features and technology e-commerce is utilizing to retain customer engagement as well as the different companies making a difference in the market.

Which Trends, Technology and Features are Helping the E-Commerce Industry Grow?

Access to mobile is revolutionizing the e-commerce market as people are relying more on their smartphones and apps to shop. With the possibility of e-payments, shopping becomes a much more flexible experience for consumers. This year, it is predicted that 40% of e-commerce revenue will have come from mobile devices. As a business, it is essential to have a strong online presence to keep up with customer demands. In some apps, like Amazon, there is a 1-click purchasing feature making transactions faster, efficient and convenient. Instead of having to enter personal data like home addresses and emails every time a consumer wants to check out, this information is automatically stored in the app, making the checkout time that much quicker and easier. Here are some other different trends and features that are making waves in the e-commerce industry:

Influencer Marketing & Social Media. Using social media as a selling approach plays an important role in e-commerce growth as it’s an essential factor in deciding to purchase something. Around 39% of online shoppers use social media as their inspiration for online shopping, this could be through ads on Facebook or YouTube influencers with brand deals promoting different products to their viewers. According to the CEO and Co-Founder of the e-commerce platform Eastside Co., “In 2018, social media will be the perfect landscape in which retailers can create a buying scenario by showcasing their products on apps that customers spend most of their time with.”

Immersive Technologies. Immersive technologies like VR and AR are being used as an important marketing strategy to enhance the whole shopping experience at home, for example, the Sephora app has an augmented reality makeup assistant, with the Ikea app and catalogue, customers can place furniture in their homes before buying and with Lowe’s, customers can design their kitchen and change the paint colour on their walls with AR and VR. The try before you buy tactic is becoming popular among consumers not just in homes but in stores as well where the technology offers personalized interactions with customers through the activation of QR codes to experience digitally enhanced products. In fact, 70% of buyers would be more loyal to businesses if they incorporated more AR elements in the shopping experience. For more on how industries are using this technology, we posted some earlier articles about AR and VR for you to check out.

Consumer Analytics. E-commerce sites are keeping up with the growing needs of consumers by tracking consumer behaviour and analytics. Different e-commerce apps and platforms are conducting market analysis to help increase sales and customer engagement.

Subscriptions. Subscription-based selling is growing in popularity. This tactic increases customer engagement and loyalty by providing them with new offers. For example, on Amazon Prime, members get special deals like same-day delivery or 1-2 day free shipping on products and unlimited access to Amazon Prime TV.

High-quality videos and photography. Shopping videos on YouTube and high-quality pictures of e-stores and products allow customers to get a better idea about different brands in their real context before buying. The more customer engagement and interest, the better chance of growth in e-commerce sales and business revenues.

Animation. Animation and motion give brands emotion and brings them to life. Animations and GIFs are also used to let people know when an item will be sold out soon or to show off the features of a product and they are even used in emails sent to subscribers. The motion makes the shopping experience feel more alive for consumers. It is another element that adds to customer engagement and retaining their interest.

Machine Learning. The use of machine learning and AI with virtual assistants adds to the shopping experience. For example, if you purchase the same item several times in one month, then you’ll receive an email asking if you would like to purchase it again. This technology tracks and keeps up with human patterns and behaviour to cater to customer needs.

Voice assistants. Purchasing through voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Home optimizes the e-commerce shopping experience and saves time. This technology is often used to help customers with easily placing reorders of products.

Examples of Different Successful E-Commerce Businesses and Startups in the World

Among the most popular companies that have ventured into e-commerce apps, Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Target and Groupon are amidst the top 5 most successful. Below we mention a couple of other startups and businesses that are strongly coming out on top of the e-commerce market.

Blue Apron
According to the team: “Our chef-designed recipes include balanced Mediterranean meals, quick one-pan dinners, and top-rated customer favorites. We guarantee the freshness of all our ingredients and deliver them in an insulated box right to your door. Following our step-by-step instructions you’ll experience the magic of cooking recipes that our chefs create with your family’s tastes in mind.”

Frank and Oak
According to the team: “Offering style and advice for the moments that matter, Frank And Oak is a destination for customers who want to live and dress well. By coupling considered product design with advice through immersive digital, in-store and content experiences, Frank And Oak has transcended its role as a retailer and is redefining the shopping experience.”

Bonobos
According to the team: “We started Bonobos because we couldn’t find pants that fit. They were either way too tight or too boxy. We fixed it. Now we’ve expanded our playbook to shirts and suits. The secret is our signature curved waistband. It actually conforms to the natural shape of your waist. A trimmer, more flattering cut and the perfect medium rise are the finishing touches on our great fit. Like most guys, we’re not big fans of shopping. That’s why we set out to build the best online shopping experience in the world, and we made it the core of what we do. We’re now the largest clothing brand ever built on the web in the US.”

Flat Tummy Co.
According to the team: “Flat Tummy Co began after seeing women like us struggle with looking and feeling good. After cutting out wheat, gluten, dairy, sugar, fructose, soy and anything with any real flavor. Nothing changed. So, we set out to create a range of products that were super easy, super healthy and designed to help our babes get back on track, and stay on track. We’re all about helping women look and feel like the best versions of themselves. And that’s what we set out to do.”

Threadbeast
According to the team: “ThreadBeast is an exclusive and diverse men’s streetwear subscription service that delivers a package of streetwear items to your doorstep once a month. Our technology personally caters to each user’s style preferences, sizes, and overall personality.”

Birchbox
According to the team: “Tell us about your beauty preferences and we’ll use them to customize your box. Your five monthly beauty treats will be a mix of prestige and niche brands. Discover new favorites and see what works for you. Purchase full-size versions of your fave samples (they ship free!). Get $1 back in Loyalty Points for every $10 you spend in our Shop. You can choose one of your samples each month starting with your second box. Plus, review products so we learn more about you.”

ModCloth
According to the team: “ModCloth is democratizing women’s clothing one cute outfit at a time! We welcome you to our wonderful world of women’s vintage clothing, accessories, handbags, and shoes, where fresh floral patterns and daring designs flourish, and fun frocks spring into style. ModCloth provides an exciting and engaging online shopping experience for everyone in search of vintage women’s fashion with fabulous flair.”

It is fascinating to see how far shopping has come as it follows the evolution of technological advancements. Are there any amazing e-commerce experiences that you want to share with us? Let us know if there are any more brands making a name for themselves in the e-commerce industry!

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