The biggest changes ahead for eCommerce

Anatwine celebrate our 6th birthday this year, and we have been reflecting on how much industry change we’ve seen since our inception back in 2013. From the rise of social media and subscription services to unlimited next- and same-day delivery programmes, eCommerce remains just as fast-paced in 2019 as when Anatwine began. We have been on an incredible technology journey and continue to innovate every day, ensuring we are constantly developing market leading solutions which keep up with industry demands. In light of our sixth birthday we take a look ahead to the changes and trends that lie in store for online retail in the coming months and years.

Delivery is changing

According to PSFK, “82% of consumers [are] more likely or much more likely to purchase from a brand that offers multiple delivery options.” This accounts for the significant changes we are already seeing with many and varied delivery options available from both traditional retailers and eCommerce only platforms. Next and ASOS are among those offering an Amazon Prime style subscription to an annual, unlimited “free” delivery option, and parcel diversion and click-and-collect offerings are on the rise.

John Lewis have recently announced a Click and Collect partnership trial with Co-op, the latter’s innovation director Mark Pettigrew explaining: “it is all about creating ease, convenience and choice for today’s time-pressed shopper.” The majority of high street stores are open almost in line with standard office hours, precluding many from shopping or collecting parcels in the week, whilst the average Co-op opens 7am until 10pm; in making it easy to collect your new boots at the same time as picking up a tin of beans on the way home, logically sales and revenue should increase for both Next online and Co-op instore.

As well as convenience, consumers demand speed in their deliveries, with same- and next-day options fast becoming the norm, and certainly the expectation: a reported 15% of consumers expect this speed of delivery, but only 1% of eCommerce businesses currently offer it. The latter figure will change dramatically over the next 12 months as brands implement plans to ramp up their third party logistics relationships and meet consumer demand.

Phygital is evolving

Blending digital and physical spaces is becoming widely recognised by traditional retailers as the best way to remain relevant, with the creation of interactive spaces especially important in harnessing eCommerce success. Long established brands like Sephora are investing heavily in blending their brick & mortar and eCommerce strategies, creating a fluidity in approach which is both immersive and convenient for consumers. In creating a physical space where consumers want to spend their time in parallel with a complementary eCommerce platform increases the likelihood that consumers will spend money with you, one way or the other.

Awareness of the importance of a phygital strategy is growing, as evidenced in Primark’s newest scheme: traditionally a brand committed wholeheartedly to a high street presence (minus for a brief, unsuccessful attempt at eCommerce via ASOS in the early 2010s), the fast fashion favourite are trialling a Click-and-Collect service, aiming to increase revenue by using their eCommerce sales to drive footfall into its high street stores.

Working hard for brand loyalty

Brand loyalty is hard to come by in a world of so much competition, where prices are often slashed on marketplaces like Amazon; a smart omnichannel strategy and enhanced visibility can prove the best way to harness and develop a loyal customer base.

Omnichannel strategies involve penetrating as many areas of the eCommerce sphere as possible: consumers are becoming so accustomed to an on demand way of shopping that they expect their favourite brands to be stocked wherever they choose to shop, be that online, on the high street, or via an app. Harry’s Razors are a prime example of a successful omnichannel strategy: having begun life as an online, subscription based product, they subsequently developed a supplementary online store, and finally made the leap to the high street, stocked in UK health & beauty giant Boots.

Social media is taking an even larger market share

Shopping on social media is nothing new, with Facebook and Instagram leading the charge and the latter’s product tagging and shoppable posts a driving factor in the prevalence of social media ‘influencers’. 2019 will see further advancements, with Instagram’s recent announcement of better-than-one-stop shopping as they introduce the ability to shop an instagram post without even leaving the platform. This literal one-click innovation marks the beginning of an exciting era of development in speed and ease of consumption.

Sustainability is key

Eco-friendly and ethical clothing have been hot topics for several years, but 2019 has seen a re-focus on sustainability in all corners of retail, from wonky fruit boxes to more conscious fashion. Sustainability is becoming a huge buzzword, with consumers ever more concerned that their purchases don’t have a negative impact upon the earth; the provenance of clothing is starting to influence purchasing decisions, and it is preferable if fashion can have a positive impact, with more eco-conscious retailers making sure they actually give back more than they take from the planet.

As the environment and climate change continue to be central to people’s concerns and thoughts, it seems inevitable that brands and retailers championing sustainability will continue to gain favour and brand loyalty.

“Pre-loved” will be huge

Pre-loved luxury goods have always been a popular concept, from ‘dress agencies’ allowing consumers to profit from their cast-off outfits, to popular auction sites like eBay, it is clear that consumers love high quality, pre-owned goods. Savvy retailers are harnessing this trend, with luxury eCommerce platform Farfetch introducing a new resale scheme, Second Life, allowing consumers to resell their old luxury handbags in a fast and convenient way - in exchange for Farfetch credit.

Not only does this guarantee more sales for Farfetch from both the resale of the bag and the credits from the seller, but it also prevents used goods from going to landfill and therefore goes some way towards sustainability.

Payment options are becoming more flexible

Consumers demand flexibility and convenience right down to their payment options. Offering credit and debit card payments alongside PayPal is a good place to start, and having fields which pre-populate with saved card details is also going to make you more likely to convert a sale: the longer it takes to complete a sale, the more likely a customer is to abandon their cart.

For retailers struggling with low order values and striving to increase basket totals, the best option to consider is a “buy now, pay later” option. Whether you plan to offer finance yourself, like Littlewoods or>, or work with external partners such as Klarna, as ASOS, Topshop, and Quiz do, consumers are likely to spend significantly more if they do not have to pay for it immediately. For younger generations who shy away from credit cards, a one off decision to get credit, rather than carrying the temptation in your wallet, works well for those times when the perfect pair of shoes present themselves a little too far from pay day.

The rise of the machines

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have developed beyond all recognition in recent years and continue to do so, with capabilities designed to both enhance consumer experiences and maximise profitability for brands and retailers.

Some of the most common ways eCommerce platforms already utilise AI include suggesting complementary or alternative products, chatbots, and the recently introduced visual search, allowing shoppers to upload a photo and suggest products which “match” their image.

The future

eCommerce is certainly going to see an enormous amount of change in the coming years, with the trends most likely to have strong results those which harness emerging technologies and make a positive difference to the planet. Consumers are demanding more transparency and accountability from the fashion industry, and concurrently more convenience. Those wishing to succeed in the coming years must master the complex art of delivering second to none service and speed whilst eradicating their negative impact on planet earth.