Online shopping has grown rapidly over the last four decades, evolving from its roots in re-selling old computers in 1982, to the digital wallets and buy now, pay later purchase options widely available today. In 2020, ecommerce accounted for 21 percent of sales, a five percent growth in just one year, and there’s still plenty to watch for the future of online shopping.
Online shopping will continue to evolve with technology to offer better customer services, personalized recommendations and discounts, and an overall smoother buying process. Here’s how tech like artificial intelligence (AI), data collection, and clever marketing is working to change how users shop.
What Americans Are Buying Online
Clothing is the top item to buy online, and 59 percent of U.S. shoppers bought clothing digitally in 2019. Entertainment items, like movies, video games, and music (not including downloads), are the second most popular item category to buy from with 47 percent of Americans buying these online.
While most Americans still prefer buying consumables like grocery and household items in-person, 22 percent of consumers now say they buy groceries online weekly. Millennials order the most groceries at 47 percent, compared to Baby Boomers at 19 percent.
With younger generations happy to order essentials online and grocery stores expanding their online presence, it seems the trend of ordering groceries online is likely to continue to grow well after COVID-19. It’s no surprise considering the average grocery trip takes 41 minutes, making online ordering a great way to save time and money.
AI Makes Online Shopping Easier
Artificial intelligence is becoming a massive influence on the way we shop. From the consumer perspective, the opportunity to virtually “try on” clothing or view furniture in your home is a great way to test a product before buying, saving you time and money on buying or returning items that don’t work.
AI also helps streamline the shopping process from beginning to end. AI has learned to recognize and filter out fake reviews, and when 93 percent of consumers read reviews before purchasing, you’re saving most Americans the hassle of ordering a poor quality item.
Actually buying a product is easier, too, providing suggested purchases, targeted marketing, and personalized discounts using shopper data. These experiences are welcomed by most, as 90 percent of consumers are willing to share their behavioral data for discounts, while over 80 percent are looking for quick customer service and a personalized shopping experience.
Social Media and Online Shopping
Social media has become an integral part of brand marketing as well as a platform for commerce. Global social commerce is expected to grow 34 percent this year and exceed $747 billion in the next two years.
Shopping on social media is most popular with younger generations, and 50 percent of Millennials would buy through social media. While they may not buy from social media directly, social media still plays an important role in the buyer’s funnel as 70 percent of consumers search for products on Instagram and Facebook.
Social media’s growth into an online shopping platform is a natural evolution from its value as a marketing platform. Consumers were already following and engaging with brands, and the average internet user spends over two hours on social media alone. Providing the power to buy in-app can help convert sales quicker. While convenient, this could mean shoppers increase impulse buys and poor spending habits.
The future of online shopping is sure to focus on personalization and efficiency to provide the best customer experience possible. Staying engaged with consumers online and tracking the trends can help businesses stay competitive. Expect to see AI continue to evolve to meet user needs, saving everyone time and money.
Sources: Marketing Land