E-commerce has been growing at an exponential rate for several years now. It has given birth to giants such as Amazon, and Shopify, and is becoming a bigger and bigger portion of the retail market. The lockdown accelerated this trend, with ecommerce rising to 20% of the US retail market and 40% of the UK retail market excluding groceries. This pattern has been replicated across the world, in countries as different as Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Turkey and South Korea. In that time, the nature of e-commerce itself has changed. Technology is driving the development of consumer experience, while these very changes have led to changes in consumer expectations and behavior and brands have struggled to adapt to this changing landscape. E-commerce is no longer just about online shopping, it’s also about ethics, being experimental and engaging.
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We have arrived at a point where fast online transactions are no longer a selling point. It’s something buyers notice when it isn’t there, but not something that buyers rave about when it is. Buying online is easy. So what?
E-commerce firms and tech startups have developed various innovations to try and keep consumers engaged.
Businesses like SWIRL have tried to answer this question by offering live video platforms to online stores, in an effort to replicate the human connection that exists in-store and is so sorely missing online.
Ohio craft ice maker, Jeni’s, worked with Dolly Parton to launch a limited edition frozen dessert. When Jeni’s launched the ice cream, it proved so incredibly popular that their website crashed within minutes of the launch.
Out of crisis, comes opportunity. The pandemic accelerated so many trends in retail and resulted in many success stories. For instance, retailers experimented with one-off boutique shopping events, such as Heinz to Home and Pepsi’s Pantry Shop.
The global supply chain disruption has caused the price of deliveries to rise. Customers still expect the same fast service as before, and so, e-commerce firms have been forced to get creative and use technologies such as drones, self-driving vehicles, and robots to continue to meet customer expectations at a time of rising costs. For example, Domino’s has recently unveiled a robotic car delivery service for select customers. Customers who opt-in will have their deliveries arrive in fully self-driving vehicles.
Do Not Lose Sight of Ethics
Millenials and Gen Z customers are motivated by a need to act ethically even in their commercial transactions. This has made ethical e-commerce a very important sub-trend in the industry. Businesses have to be cognizant of the ethical dimensions of their supply decisions, labor practices, and other aspects of their activity. CUstomers love to know that products like shop Nuna Baby strollers have been made and distributed according to the highest ethical standards. Not only does this keep the business aligned to the ethical concerns of its customers, it also gives a business a great way to distinguish itself from other businesses. A brand that can demonstrate that it is an ethical brand, is a very valuable brand.