E-commerce is changing at a rapid pace, driven by new technology, consumer behaviour, and higher expectations.
Asendia understands that, for e-tailers to survive in today’s ultra-competitive market, they need to constantly update the online shopping experience they provide to their customers. That’s why we strive to stay on top of international e-commerce trends, helping brands across the world take part in global e-commerce growth.
To guide you to greater commercial success, we’ll be presenting the 12 most important trends for today’s cross-border retailers. In this first part of four, we explore m-commerce, AI and AR technology, and returns management.
- M-commerce will dominate e-commerce
It’s widely accepted that mobile commerce is a natural progression of electronic commerce. The rapid rise of m-commerce is impossible to ignore: this year, smartphone retail sales have been forecast to make up over a third of all US e-commerce sales, while the mobile-payment market is predicted to reach a huge $4,574 billion by 2023. Sources can’t agree when exactly m-commerce will rule e-commerce, but the universal expectation is that it will happen – and soon.
When its benefits are considered, it’s obvious to see why m-commerce has demonstrated such unstoppable growth: greater convenience, faster purchases, a slicker customer experience. With shopping apps, there is the possibility of push notifications and tailored content too, while e-tailers can enjoy cost reductions through reaching their target audience quicker. It’s clear that m-commerce is a lifestyle choice: consumers simply want to buy what they want, whenever they want, through the convenience of a handheld device. So don’t miss out on sales: get your business ready for m-commerce and optimise your online store for mobile.
Tips to stay ahead:
Think mobile first! Today’s online shopper has increasingly higher standards and decreasing patience, so it’s vital that your website works well on their mobile devices. If not, then you can expect consumers to stay away. Consider investing in a retail app and introducing features that make the user experience slicker, such as single-touch checkout.
- AI & AR
The advances made in artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) technology have been touching almost every industry, promising to revolutionise how the everyday world works. In e-commerce, many business leaders are already reaping the benefits of machine learning, with 72% stating it will be ‘fundamental’ in the future of online retail.
AI, the science of knowledge engineering for machines to perform human-like tasks through experience, is already being utilised by many e-tailers to better understand their customers, generate new leads, and provide an enhanced customer experience. AI-powered customer-centric search is now widespread, where AI ‘learns’ about customers through interaction and delivers smart, personalised recommendations.
With AR, where computer-generated information is superimposed on the world we see, online retailers have been attempting to bring the shopping experience into the home of the e-shopper so they can try, in a virtual sense, the items they’re considering purchasing. AR is being increasingly adopted to increase opportunities for sales, upselling and cross-selling, with the furniture and clothing segments leading the way. For reluctant online retailers who consider this science fiction, it’s important to understand how prevalent this technology is expected to be: by 2020, it’s predicted that there will be 1 billion AR users.
Cross-border retailers unfamiliar with this technology should start investigating how AI and AR could be used in their businesses. They can be implemented in multiple areas of an operation, from data mining and customer support to inventory management and warehouse automation. Reach new customers with this technology, encourage them to return to your site, and protect your brand for the future.
Tips to stay ahead:
Take the time to become familiar with what AI and AR can do for e-commerce, and improve your knowledge with remote workshops and online courses. Identify the problems you want AI to solve and think about how the customer service experience can be improved with new technology. Chatbots, for example, are straightforward to set up and can provide essential information to your sales team.
- Better returns management
Companies are realising that excellent returns management leads to greater customer satisfaction and, in turn, more profit. 96% of consumers stated they would shop with a retailer again based on a positive returns experience. In the US alone, it’s been estimated that return deliveries will cost $550 billion by 2020.
But what is the underlying reason for this? The truth is that returns are the new norm for today’s online shopper. It is central to the modern e-commerce experience. Many customers buy with an explicit plan to return some or all of their items, especially if the online store isn’t equipped with AR technology for shoppers to virtually try before they buy. How you deal with returns can differentiate your brand, impress your customers, and make you more profitable.
Since returns are an integral part of online shopping, e-tailers should treat returns with the same care as the rest of the shopping experience. This means optimising returns to save shoppers time and effort; consumers expect a frictionless process, with clear and transparent policies up front. They also need proactive communication throughout to ensure the returned goods are in safe hands and that their all-important refund is on its way.
Tips to stay ahead:
Most retailers experiencing growth aren’t equipped to handle the influx of online returns. To avoid the maze of reverse logistics and all its associated pressures – expanding the workforce, building warehouse space, creating new departments – consider outsourcing your returns process to an established global shipping partner.
Asendia can manage your returns, simplifying your operation with solutions designed to answer the individual needs of your business. With access to a powerful international network, we can streamline your logistics, reduce your costs, and, most importantly, keep your customers happy. We can also help you build a world-class returns policy, guiding you through key aspects such as language style, returns windows, and setting customer expectations.