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The Future of E-commerce: Shopify Report Review

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31st May 2021 in

Shopify’s “The Future of E-commerce” annual report outlines and explores the global e-commerce trends to consider in 2021. The report includes region-specific and applicable insights from Shopify Plus merchants across the U.S., Canada, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East combined with findings from a wide variety of prominent data and research companies such as McKinsey, Forrester, IBM and Google.

In preparation for business in 2021, we have summarised the five global e-commerce trends explored in the report.

1. Seamless Online Experiences
After the pandemic, the e-commerce industry experienced years of growth in a manner of weeks. Online retail in Australia saw an increase in sales of 15.5% which is expected to continue accelerating over the next decade. Succeeding in this evolved market requires brands to address consumer demand for immediacy, convenience, and speed by prioritising streamlined digital journeys.

How to apply this in your marketing strategy:

  • Optimise digital channels: Optimise your e-commerce channels including online marketplaces such as Amazon, social media, and website to deliver a seamless and unified experience.
  • Product database management and CRM: Build dynamic workflows to guide the consumer across different touchpoints and manage supply and demand.
  • Optimise mobile experience: Improve website performance to remove potential boundaries to entry. Utilise Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to boost SERP ranking and conversion.

2. The Future of Retail: Virtual Shopping
Today’s consumer prefers to shop online. Successful online retailers have sought to improve customer experience to address buyer need for safety, efficiency, and convenience. To effectively adapt to consumer expectation, brands are introducing innovations to reinvent or improve in-store shopping such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual shopping experiences.

How to apply this in your marketing strategy:

  • Simplify the checkout process: Develop a quicker and more efficient sales journey to drive a higher overall conversion rate i.e., allow customers to buy direct from product pages.
  • Automation: Utilise automation where possible to enhance promotional campaigns i.e., precalculating shipping costs, VIP loyalty programs.
  • Build creative digital experiences: Use 3D modelling to showcase products online by offering consumers real-life interaction. Utilise AR for higher-expense purchases such as cars and home appliances to reduce the percentage of returns.
  • Livestream shopping events for major promotional campaigns: Facebook and Instagram offer the ability to add-to-cart in a Livestream event to simulate a real-life buying experience.
  • Digitise your marketing: Convert your marketing executions into virtual experiences i.e., Livestream “unboxing” videos, “how-to” or “step-by-step” content to explain a product’s value.

3. Reimaging Order Fulfillment
Fulfilment needs to be smarter, accessible for the target consumer, and efficient. 64% of consumers want their online purchases shipped for free and will gravitate to brands offering fast, free and sustainable shipping. Since customers are unable to try on items in-store, the number of product returns has risen necessitating retailers to adjust return policies to manage costs.

How to apply this in your marketing strategy:

  • Outsource operations: Partner with a third-party logistics company (3PL) to access added flexibility to ship regionally, warehouse stock, improve packaging, and optimise shipping.
  • Forecast inventory management: Implement an advanced stock management system for effective stock organization and help plan for future market changes. Secondary to this, great stock management offers companies with multiple warehouses the ability to improve shipping based on geographical location and timing to manage costs.
  • Streamline returns: Simplify, automate, and support self-serve returns to improve efficiencies and position your brand in a positive light. Apply higher value to exchange or store credit offerings where possible to manage costs and potential serial returners.

4. Humanising the Buying Journey
Technology fatigue (also known as digital fatigue) has become a real issue that can be addressed in the design of realistic and personalised experiences. Personalisation is expected to be an integral part of the future of marketing with studies estimating it to unlock $2.95 trillion in the coming decade.

How to apply this in your marketing strategy:

  • Improve collaboration between human and AI technology: Harnessing the value of both channel types helps brands personalise retail with added automation and efficiencies i.e., dynamic advertising, tailored page content, Livestream videos.
  • Automate repetitive tasks: Utilise APIs to automatically update product listings at scale across a wide variety of channels. Identifying repetitive tasks to automate can free up resources to offer human interaction where it counts.
  • Refine strategy using marketplace insights: Combine data across your brand’s online network to draw key learnings to optimise sales performance.
  • Freedom to customise: Offering the ability to personalise products and/or packaging to differentiate your brand.

5. Improve Customer Retention
A significant spike in e-commerce competition has prompted an acceleration in digital advertising growth and costs. This trend has seen brands turn to new channels as customer retention becomes a top priority to manage rising acquisition costs.

How to apply this in your marketing strategy:

  • Create a lifecycle grid: Categorise buyers by the number and frequency of overall purchases and map them to an appropriate customer journey. Utilising this lifecycle grid can help predict, improve, and reduce churn probability for future business strategy.
  • Subscriptions and rewards programs: Foster a loyal customer base via rewards strategies, and/or subscription models to achieve recurring and consistent revenue.
  • Personalised nurturing campaigns: Identify your most valuable customer segments to optimise your marketing strategies and achieve a higher overall lifetime customer value.

Read the full report here.

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