The Future of Ecommerce is Frictionless, Experiential, and Everywhere

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Attempting to predict the future is often a fool’s errand. Winston Churchill once said, “I always avoid prophesying beforehand, because it is much better to prophesy after the event has already taken place.”

But, by collecting data and finding trends and patterns, we can make some pretty educated projections for the future of ecommerce. Let’s start by looking at a couple shifts in consumer behavior that will drive the next years of the ecommerce industry.

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Millennials and Gen Z: The Purchasing Power of the Future

Millennials, the generation born between 1980–1994, are on track to account for over $1 trillion spent annually in the United States. However, 36% of them are saddled with high amounts of student debt. This is credited for sparking the trend of “access over ownership” and is also a driver in many recent payment innovations. 

Right behind Millennials comes Gen Z. The oldest of them is currently only 24, but early analyses are already in. This youth culture report from Dazed Media notes that with Gen Z, “hyper-individualism and mass trends sit side-by-side within the very same person. We are fragmented and united all at the same time.” 

This indicates a shift from previous generations, particularly Gen X, for whom individualism and the mainstream sat in direct opposition to one another.

An Environment Shaped by the “New Normal”

Another shift in consumer behavior — this time, one that will impact every generation currently alive — is sure to effect the ecommerce world as a result of COVID-19.

As the report from Dazed Media went on to say, “Our homes have become our offices and entertainment spaces, and human interaction and touch is diminishing. It’s a time of extreme tensions — from fragmented to united, digital to physical, reality to fantasy, individuality to homogeneity.”

Wrapping Up

If you’ve had an ecommerce store for any length of time, you’ve likely experienced the feeling of needing to do a hundred things and only having time for ten. That’s why, when it comes to future trends, you have to prioritize relentlessly. 

Not every brand needs to capitalize on every trend. If you’re a B2B business selling heavy equipment, Checkout on Instagram won’t increase your revenue. Similarly, if you sell bespoke gift items for highly targeted occasions, voice search won’t be your first priority.

Focus on usability before flash. That’s both from the customer’s perspective as they shop, and from yours on the operations side. No flashy onsite experience or other bells and whistles will replace a foundation of solid processes and best practices. Once you have that down, take measured risks and test, test, test.

Future of Ecommerce FAQs

How do I know if expanding Internationally is right for my business?

Consider demand, translation and localization, payment options, and cross-border shipping. You’ll have to assess all the related costs to determine if expansion is worth it for your brand.

What are some back-office functions I can use automation to streamline?

Use automation to schedule emails, automate tasks, assist with hiring, communicate with prospects, and streamline warehouse processes.

What is voice commerce?

Voice commerce refers to using voice technology, like Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa, to conduct some kind of shopping activity.

What is automated commerce?

Automated commerce refers to functionality that manages subscriptions and automatic ordering.

What is a PWA?

A Progressive Web App, or PWA, uses up-to-date web technology to deliver an online experience that’s closer to a native app than a traditional webpage — a fast, reliable user experience.

What are the benefits of using a PWA for ecommerce?

PWAs offer more flexibility to manage content on the frontend and deliver fast, seamless shopping experiences.

How is the offline commerce experience evolving?

Today, customers expect to be able to buy online, pick-up in store (BOPIS), buy online, return in store (BORIS), and collect their products curbside.

I’m in the B2B space — do I really need ecommerce?

B2B sales are undergoing digital transformation. To keep up with changing buyer expectations, ecommerce can be key to engaging prospects and customers.

Why are payment gateways so important to user experience?

Choosing the payment gateways most popular with your target audience will help Increase conversion by making the experience more convenient for them.

Who should consider using 3D or augmented reality functionality?

If your products are very visual, and if the size of those products matters (e.g., how will that rug fit into your room?), you should consider 3D and AR technology.

What is headless commerce?

Headless commerce is an ecommerce technology architecture that decouples the front- and back-ends to enable more front-end control while limiting unintended consequences to the back-end.


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