While the ecommerce and online shopping world has become the de facto sector of the retail industry, but it’s still evolving at an incredible rate. 2020 and 2021 saw some big changes to online businesses, and 2022 is set to shake things up even further.
In South Africa, e-commerce grew by a whopping 66% in 2020 as Covid-wary consumers avoided malls and turned to home deliveries. A study by World Wide Worx shows that online sales topped R30-billion – some 50% higher than what was projected by analysts.
The e-commerce explosion also saw the coming-of-age of the online marketplace. The unprecedented circumstances triggered by the pandemic were tailor-made for platforms where vendors and consumers could be brought together and where users could make orders and payments without leaving the system.
However, online stores or businesses with online elements are quickly realising that it is not good enough to simply create an online retail platform. Online shoppers’ requirements have evolved at a rapid rate, with convenience and choice becoming the key factors in digital retail.
Advancements in computer and mobile technology are no longer only the preserve of wealthier consumers, so it is beholden on online marketplaces and e-tailers to ensure their platforms keep up with the latest digital trends.
Artificial intelligence-driven personalised recommendations are becoming huge in the ecommerce space. Not only do these suit the needs and tastes of a particular customer, but they also allow the marketplace to help grow loyalty to its sellers’ brands. It also goes without saying that by employing machine learning and data analytics, the platform is able to offer customers more of the items they want.
International brands like Levi’s have already used AI-enabled chatbots to assist customers find the perfect fit. This technology is able to learn about customers’ fashion preference and size requirements.
Another big innovation in the ecommerce industry is what is called “social commerce”, because people have been starved of social interaction and entertainment, they have sought out ecommerce platforms that offer more than your standard select-click-pay process.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sellers and brands can further engage consumers by making associations with influencers and blending content into social posts, livestreams and videos. And because friends often share the same interests, the platform essentially becomes a “meeting place” where they can shop, be entertained and chat to one another.
Something South Africans are starting to see more of, in the ecommerce space and beyond, are chatbots. This technology is set to become standard in the months and years ahead. Chatbots essentially act in the same way as in-store sales assistants, an essential requirement when so much trade is being conducted online.
Chatbots will become even more personalised as analytics technology improves. No longer will there be standard-issue responses, but assistance that is highly focused on individual needs.
A crucial part of the ecommerce experience going forward will be the variety of payment options offered. Particularly with this rise of mobile, more payment options mean bigger conversion rates. And when details of payment information are saved onto the platform, it creates greater convenience for consumers since they will be able to check out faster.
Last but not least, consumers can expect to see far more video content on retail and online marketplace platforms, as videos can help showcase products better than still images ever can. Video accounts for a huge amount of social media traffic, so it stands to reason that it would grab attention when it comes to online sales as well.
GROW YOUR ONLINE STORE AND ECOMMERCE BUSINESS
Having an adaptable and flexible online commerce platform is key to driving sales and keeping up to date with trends, but choosing the right e-commerce platform for your business doesn’t need to be a daunting and tough decision, nor a time-consuming task, and Digitise makes it simple by having a website and online store-builder, CRM system, and marketing toolkit all in one place. And of course, keeps affordability in mind with flexible pricing packages. The drag-and-drop store builder gives you the ability to add products with ease, grow your client base, and feature multiple payment options, so that your site is ready for the hungry South African market.
Why not sign-up and get cracking on your business now? Check out Digitise here.