It’s easy to look at e-commerce giants like Amazon and Shopify and think, Where else can this industry possibly go?
But we’re still in the early stages of the e-commerce revolution, and in my opinion, winners have yet to be named in several key areas. (Hint: I truly believe that soona will dominate in what I call the content layer of the e-comm world).
But beyond my predictions for my own business, there’s plenty of space for e-comm to grow into our lives. Here are my top three predictions for where our industry is going next:
Prediction 1: Self-service commerce
I was recently traveling for work and had the pleasure of eating at a new restaurant. Instead of handing me a menu, asking me to order at the counter, or sending a waiter to my table, the host told me that I could order online and my dinner would be brought to my table. When I was done, I could order a dessert or just add a tip and jet (because I’d already paid for the food). My time was totally mine—no waiting for the waiter to notice me or waving them down to get the tab.
I was really excited by the innovative way the restaurant had used e-comm—not as an end in and of itself, but as a hybridized transaction, combining a digital purchase with an in-person experience.
Prediction 2: Frictionless transactions
Everyone wants transactions to be smoother, faster, and easier, whether they’re online or in-person, and the e-comm industry is on the brink of making this happen.
I’ll give you two examples. Let’s say you’re sitting on the couch, ready to buy something, but the merchant doesn’t have Apple Pay. Do you stand up and walk to the other side of the room to get your credit card? Nope! In the end, you ditch your plan to purchase altogether.
Here’s another one: Imagine you’re standing in a long line at a department store. What crosses your mind? There must be a way I can pay on my phone and walk out the door? Why am I standing in this forty-person line just to hand over my card? Sure, you wait this time, but maybe you don’t return to the store.
In both situations, a convenient, frictionless transaction would’ve come in handy—both for you, the customer and for the merchant. A study found 21% of online shoppers abandon carts because of a lengthy and complicated checkout process. The potential growth here is huge, and I believe it’s where the engine of e-comm innovation is heading next.
Prediction 3: Ubiquitous lifestyle imagery
We’re living in a sea of white backgrounds and stale, uninspired environments that are designed to give us information without inspiration. (I’m not pointing fingers, but Amazon started it.) In the next eighteen months, I expect that we’ll see a seismic shift from looking at ecomm as a purely transactional experience with information-driven visuals to a more aspirational experience where the visuals will sing to you (metaphorically, of course, unless your product actually does sing).
Imagine a shopping experience where you’re truly inspired to try a product, bring it into your home, try it on your body, or give it as a gift. With 93% of consumers considering visual representation to be the main deciding factor to purchase, it’s easy to predict the aspirational nature of Instagram will hit the e-comm storefront hard.
I’ll leave you with this:
I’ll never forget the day I learned about eBay accounts where people sell designer bags from stores like Hermés, Louis Vuitton, and Dior. Not the handbag—the shopping bag. And they go for as much as $100 because there are consumers who find such worth in that object.
What is the digital equivalent of that worth? Of marketing coming to life in such a way that feels tangible and really viable for your business? If you’re thinking about opening an e-comm store, ask yourself how you can use it as an opportunity to push the boundaries of the online shopping experience.