7 Ecommerce Customer Experience (CX) Trends and Predictions for 2019 and Beyond
Ecommerce is a space that is constantly reinventing itself. With so much opportunity for innovation, we see huge changes across the industry every year.
By embracing new technology and the needs and desires of young, digitally-native shoppers, online retailers can deliver incredible experiences and win the hearts of consumers all over the globe.
Here are seven of the major ways that ecommerce will be shaking up digital experience in the very near future:
1. Automated Processes Through the Use of AI
Since the first time a shopper used their cursor rather than their hand to drop an item into their basket, ecommerce businesses have raced to automate processes as much as possible.
Gradually, more and more changes are being implemented that mean retailers can maximize output with a smaller time investment. So, what exactly does ecommerce automation mean for the retailer?
- A reduction in manual workload and unnecessary tasks
- Simplified workflows (both front and backend)
- A unified system rather multiple app integrations
- Faster and more efficient growth thanks to rapid experimentation
For shoppers, it means a more streamlined, personal experience – more on that shortly – that makes buying online intuitive and even pleasant.
We already have ecommerce automation platforms that react to triggers and implement workflows, but moving into the future, we can expect to see artificial intelligence “making decisions” on behalf of the retailer that maximize profits and provide the best possible experiences for customers. Watch this space.
2. Truly Personalized Experiences
A truly personal experience makes you feel loved.
When you walk into your local coffee shop and they greet you by name, remember your fondness for soy milk caramel macchiatos and hand you a free croissant for being such a great customer, you can’t help but leave with a smile. Chances are, you’ll even tell a few of your colleagues what a wonderful morning you had and recommend the café.
With the right combination of digital personalization, there’s no reason why an online shopper can’t leave your app or website feeling exactly the same way.
Personalization has existed in some form for a long time now. At it’s most basic, it means including first names in any communication and sending offers to customers you haven’t seen in a while or that abandoned their cart during checkout. What we’re moving towards now, however, is personalization that can really provide value and help customers meet their unique goals.
To effectively personalize experiences, it’s essential that you’re gathering the right kind of personal data and that you can exchange it for something of value.
“To effectively personalize experiences, it’s essential that you’re gathering the right kind of personal data and that you can exchange it for something of value.”
In a 2017 study carried out by YouGov, it was found that 43% of the 1145 consumers surveyed agreed that they would exchange personal data if it meant being able to save money through personalized promotions or discounts. 39% also agreed to do so for faster problem-solving. When it comes to irrelevant retargeting however, 32% responded that it was “an invasion of privacy.”
Ecommerce businesses must invest in technology that can identify digital “body language” that indicates struggles or frustration. Once alerted, digital teams can intervene to assist.
By providing real-time content and offers that can actually help with whatever your customer is trying to achieve, you can turn an unpleasant experience into an opportunity to delight. A lot of the technology is already here, but the last few pieces of the puzzle will fall into place over the next couple of years.
3. A Rise in Social Commerce
That’s a fantastic jacket in that picture you just scrolled past on Instagram. Would you consider buying it there and then? Well, research suggests that you just might. (Particularly if you’re aged between 18 and 34.)
It’s taken a while to get social commerce off the ground, but we’re now seeing much larger numbers of people using social media as a discovery platform for new products.
Of 1000 US consumers surveyed in 2017, more than half stated that they had bought a product online after seeing it on social media. This is a number that’s only set to rise.
In the future, we can expect to see more targeted and relevant products advertised to shoppers on social media and more purchases as a result. A large driver of this will be social media platforms introducing new ways of publishing and interacting with adverts within user’s feeds.
Earlier this year, Instagram unveiled “collection” ads, a blend of video and product catalogs that enable purchases without ever leaving the app. Emphasizing the convenience of purchasing will be a key consideration for retailers moving forward.
4. Innovative Delivery Methods Become Standard
Two weeks for delivery?! Unacceptable. For the modern consumer, convenience is king. With pioneering retailers like Amazon offering same-day delivery, long waits just don’t cut it any more.
There are experiments happening already. Drone deliveries can be made in as little as 15 minutes and companies like Dominos are trialing driverless cars that deliver pizzas through the rear window.
When a customer has their item in their hands faster than expected and in perfect condition, that’s a great customer experience. Even the thrill of seeing their order delivered in a new way contributes to the positive experience.
Expect to see these kind of innovative delivery methods become mainstream over the next few years.
5. An Emphasis on Interactive Content
Visually engaging photos and videos will always be appealing for consumers (not to mention a necessity for showing off your products), but what will really get them excited is content they can interact with.
There’s so much noise online that getting your brand to stand out from the crowd can often feel like an insurmountable challenge. Interactive content can make all the difference.
Case in point, 79% of marketers surveyed in 2016 stated that using interactive content boosted their number of repeat visitors and improved message retention. So not only are people enjoying the experience as it happens, they’re remembering it and coming back for more.
“79% of marketers stated that using interactive content boosted their number of repeat visitors and improved message retention. So not only are people enjoying the experience as it happens, they’re remembering it and coming back for more.”
Millennial and gen Z consumers value authenticity above all else. They simply don’t respond well to hard sells. When interactivity is effective, it combines authenticity, quality content and the promotion of your brand and products.
Whether it’s quizzes that help them make purchasing decisions, games to win discount codes or a method of data-visualization that allows users to explore at their own pace – interactivity is here to stay. Soon, we’ll be seeing more complex and engaging interactive content on a variety of platforms emerging from the most forward-thinking retailers. Keep your eyes peeled!
6. Augmented Reality (and Beyond)
Wondering how that new pair of jeans will look on you? Or if a corner sofa will fit in your living room? Augmented reality can provide the answers.
AR once felt more like a fun gimmick than something that could provide tangible value, but now the technology is becoming more widely available and affordable, ecommerce businesses are waking up to the possibilities.
The key advantage of AR is that it can help eliminate the ambiguity in making purchases online.
“The key advantage of AR is that it can help eliminate the ambiguity in making purchases online.”
An unimaginable number of sales are lost because customers don’t feel confident in evaluating the physical appearance and dimensions of a product. By allowing them to visualize products in the context of whatever space they will eventually occupy, you can help shoppers feel more comfortable and enthusiastic about purchases.
A great example of highly functional and engaging augmented reality comes from home-furnishing behemoth IKEA. Its AR app allows shoppers to see furniture superimposed in any room. You can quickly switch between products and try a variety of materials and colors to assess how the piece fits in the space and if it matches the current decor.
The use of AR means more sales and fewer returns as customers have already established that the product is right for them.
In the near future, many more retailers will turn to AR capabilities to show off their products and, in time, virtual reality will usher in a new wave of immersive customer experiences. Imagine “walking” through a jewelry store and trying on rings – without ever leaving your home. The possibilities are endless.
7. Voice Dialogues – Not Just Search
Siri – what’s the future of ecommerce customer experience?
Voice search has come a long way since we were first introduced to Apple’s Siri in 2011, and retailers are quickly recognizing its potential for helping consumers shop and have great experiences in the process.
Digital assistants today are slowly evolving beyond basic voice input to understand user intent and behaviors through intelligent data analysis. These advancements can’t come fast enough considering that experts predict 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020.
What we’ll soon be looking at is digital assistants that know their users inside out and can therefore anticipate their wants and needs.
Using your Amazon Echo to search for flights to Barbados? Perhaps it will then ask if you need a new swimsuit or if you need recommendations for hotels.
The way retailers can capitalize on the meteoric rise of voice search is through the production of conversational content that focuses on answering questions. You also need to make sure that your paid search keyword list encompasses longer tail phrases. When a consumer responds to their Echo, “Yes. Where can I get a blue Speedo swimsuit?” You want your website to be the answer.
Looking Further Ahead
Retailers both online and off are embracing the truth that amazing customer experiences are what will keep them ahead of the competition. As time marches on, it will require greater and greater investment, creativity and innovation to keep consumers coming back.
We’re already moving towards a market where personalized, empathetic and value-led shopping experiences will be the norm. Any business unable to deliver that will struggle to stay afloat.
It’s difficult to tell what the world of ecommerce customer experience will look like in 20 years, but it’s certain that it will be more engaging, relevant and exciting than ever before. Make sure you have the framework in place to embrace the shift now. Read our ultimate guide to customer experience management in ecommerce to stay ahead of the competition.