Improvements in mobile checkout, integration with social media, Google’s local inventory and Maps, and the rise of in-app purchases has transformed online shopping from “the purchase of products from a website” to a series of interconnected digital interactions that facilitate the delivery of products to consumers.
With projected sales of over $4.5 trillion by 2021, the ecommerce industry is thriving and may very well dominate the U.S. retail industry in the not-too distant future. Here are some of the major shifts in online shopping and their implications for both brands and shoppers.
The Rise of Mobile Commerce
With mobile devices facilitating 64 percent of 2017’s Black Friday Cyber Monday sales, experts predict that mobile transactions will represent 49.2 percent of total ecommerce sales by 2020. Mobile has become so pervasive that even brick and mortar businesses are getting in on the action.
Optimizing your store’s mobile shopping experience has the added benefit of reducing shopping cart abandonment rates. Most shoppers store their card details on apps like Apple and Google Pay, enabling them to quickly authorize payment through facial recognition or fingerprint scanning. With the rise of mobile commerce, online stores must provide a seamless, integrated experience across all consumer touchpoints to facilitate multi-channel selling.
Voice and Image Search: The End of Traditional SEO?
Consumers are changing the way they search for products. While some shoppers look for products through retailer search rather than general search engines, others find their favorite products by leveraging voice and image search apps.
With the ever-increasing adoption of voice assistants like Google’s Echo and Amazon’s Alexa and the development of more sophisticated image-based search apps, industry experts predict that by 2020, over 50 percent of searches will be done via these technologies.
This could very well signal the end of traditional SEO.
With the standardization of image analysis automation in mobile devices, shoppers can take pictures of products they like and search for that exact product or a similar one. Although this shift in consumer search preferences would introduce new challenges (due to the difficulty in optimizing websites for spoken keywords and image searches), online merchants who integrate voice and image search capabilities on their site will reach new levels of ROI on their product information management investment.
The Rise of Amazon
Nearly half of all product searches start on Amazon. The sheer size of Amazon's audience and product assortment, coupled with industry projections that the ecommerce giant will generate over 50 percent of all ecommerce sales by 2021 means that online stores have almost zero chance of competing.
However, these fears are exactly what makes Amazon such a valuable sales channel for online stores. Brands can gain added exposure and drive new revenue growth by taking advantage of Amazon’s numerous seller tools. By leveraging Amazon Search, Amazon Ad Platform, and Amazon Media Group, online stores can make their products stand out from the millions swirling around the ecommerce stratosphere.
Brands would need to up their game to take advantage of the major technological advances disrupting the way shoppers interact with and search for products online. By adapting to shifting trends and leveraging emergent technologies, online stores can face the future of ecommerce with some measure of certainty.