The digital revolution catalyzed by the pandemic has brought products and services to the fingertips of consumers. According to NASSCOM, India's e-commerce market continued to grow at 5 percent, with expected sales of $56.6 billion in 2021. The major factors fuelling this growth are growing Internet penetration, entry of global majors, rise in smartphone adoption, innovation in mobile technologies, access to funding, millennial consumers, and digital payments.
Due to the rapid digitalization in the last year, retailers shifted their focus to an online mode to serve customers amidst the lockdowns. Traditional online models have lacked the engagement or connections present in real-life shopping and experiences. As technology evolves and more people look at meaningful interactions, marketers will have to focus on bridging the gap between real and virtual worlds to create innovative engagement and enhance customer experiences.
Real-time engagement coupled with technologies like AR and VR has ushered in a new era of e-commerce that relies on personalization and engagement. In a post-pandemic world, the online and real worlds are interconnected, and the below trends will be integral in enabling businesses to capitalize on the changing dynamics of consumer behavior.
Rise of Everything Experiential
To vie for the attention of today’s customers, retailers and marketers need to be selling far more than just a product, especially when there are many other brands, products, and services to compete with. The focus now has shifted from selling a product to selling an experience. Shopping isn’t just about buying the necessities. For many people, it’s entertainment and by providing a memorable experience, you create a favorable impression. This is even more important for an online model where your experience will need to survive the lack of touch and feel that the in-store model relies on. Retailers are leveraging the power of interactive voice and video to foster a connection online and create memorable experiences.
Hyper-Personalization to the Forefront
If you had the choice between a store that knew nothing about you versus a store where they knew your name, helped you pick your frequently bought items, offered seamless checkout since they had your details already, and knew the mode of delivery you prefer, which one would you choose? Personalization has become a necessity that customers expect today along with a seamless omnichannel strategy. In the coming years, e-commerce companies will leverage technology like AI and analytics to optimize targeting, messaging, and personalization to suit consumers’ needs in a virtual world.
The Emergence of Co-Shopping and Live Commerce
While it is still an evolving concept where collaborative shopping groups are formed to drive an online shopping experience for multiple people, it will enable multiple users to conduct real-time online shopping collaboratively from multiple locations. For instance, family members at remote locations can view the same product online simultaneously as if they are shopping together in real-time. This coupled with live commerce will be a big trend in the coming years. Live commerce enhances e-commerce with live streaming video events, combining the personal help of in-store shopping experiences with online convenience. Globally, live commerce has taken over and is on route to becoming mainstream. As India gears for the next wave of growth in technology, we will see live commerce powering e-commerce with live interactive streaming videos or events. This in turn bridges the gap and combines the personal help of in-store shopping experiences with online convenience.
AR Becomes more Ubiquitous
Augmented reality (AR) has become one of the biggest trends of the last few years. The biggest disadvantage of e-commerce was that it doesn’t lend itself well to a full sensory product experience. In a brick-and-mortar environment, you can try on clothes, touch fabrics, or see for yourself just how big a couch looks in a room. However, AR applications offer a way to give customers deeper and more complete information about your products — right from their own homes. In the coming years, 3D try-on, virtual fitting rooms, interactive user manuals, and social media filters will become commonplace, due to AR technology.
Technology continues to fuel trends in e-commerce, and so will customer expectations for their interactions with companies. Understanding these trends is the first step for consumers to win in the future, virtual world.