While still in its infancy, e-commerce has changed drastically in the last few years.
When you think of e-commerce, you likely think of the clothing and goods you can purchase online. But traditional retail isn’t the only industry that is seeing success in the e-commerce environment. The blossoming online sphere is attracting industries that want to get in on expanding e-commerce markets. For the sake of discussion, we’ll expand the definition of “new e-commerce” to include every industry that is finding success in the omnichannel world.
Which industries will do well with new e-commerce based on the way the environment is moving?
New E-commerce trends
Industries that do well in the new e-commerce environment are those that know how to fit in with burgeoning online trends.
We anticipate the following five e-commerce movements growing stronger for 2019 and beyond. These impact the sorts of industries that will be able to see success in the e-commerce world moving forward.
1. Mobile usage
Customers are increasingly moving towards on-the-go product research and purchasing. Forrester’s 2018 report found that smartphones account for over one-third of U.S. retail sales, and these numbers are only increasing. And Google Analytics found that over 40% of online transactions are on mobile devices.
People aren’t just using their phones to research and compare products they find in stores. They’re growing increasingly comfortable making purchases from their phones. Some organizations are even discovering that a lot of consumers are window shopping in person and buying on their mobile devices.
This means that companies need to be mobile-friendly and –accessible. They also need to engage and encourage the mobile customer in new and innovative ways.
The retailers that are seeing the greatest success, especially during the holiday season, are those that have omnichannel offerings. This means their mobile apps, online site, physical storefronts, and marketplaces (like Amazon) all function as a unit.
This creates a streamlined brand and purchasing process across all platforms. A customer can walk past a brick and mortar store, and they can instantly purchase a product they like on their phone. Or they see something online and go to the nearest store to try it on.
This means that e-commerce businesses have to focus on their multi-channel management. Everything from inventory to marketing to brand voice should be consolidated to a single, consistent system. This is calling for integrated infrastructure as well as creative, innovative methods of attracting and engaging customers.
Artificial intelligence is growing smarter with every passing day, and it’s completely changing the way all industries—especially those in the online world—do business. This is changing the way brands interact with customers, how they build their products, and even how they utilize technology.
For example, Shopify Flow uses an automated visual builder to automate any and all processes along the selling chain. Industries and organizations that make the transition to automated systems are likely going to thrive in the e-commerce future.
4. Social media
The average adult spends 5 hours daily on their devices. Half of that time is spent on social media, messaging, and entertainment. Retailers have moved into this opening to focus on social media as a major selling avenue.
Content is the number one reason people follow brands on social media. This means those organizations that emphasize a strong content marketing strategy tend to attract the new, on-the-go, social consumer.
International e-commerce is still a largely untapped market, but we anticipate it to grow in the next few years. According to McKinsey, the global middle class is going to grow to 1.4 billion by 2020, which means there will be a significantly wider audience for online retailers.
A lot of e-commerce businesses are looking to enter this space early in order to gain a competitive advantage. However, international markets are challenging to break into because of government regulations, security challenges, market information, and logistics. International expansion is more effective for some industries, like those selling online products (B2B) as opposed to physical products.
What do these trends mean for the growth of budding industries online?
More and more companies are coming out with cloud-based technologies that connect businesses with other businesses. This tech is making e-commerce ripe for the picking in B2B (business-to-business) relationships. The B2B companies that are currently seeing the most success are actually e-commerce software and platform companies, like Shopify or BigCommerce.
In fact, B2B e-commerce is worth $5 trillion more than B2C e-commerce, with a total worth of $7.6 trillion.
This tells us a lot about the new e-commerce movement. The B2B companies doing the best are the ones that are selling to other e-commerce retailers. Huge demand calls for a huge supply, which signals a serious rise in the number of online retailers across the board.
We’re already seeing some of the biggest names in the online space, like Amazon, Google, and Apple, coming out with their own AI electronics. Most of these devices are sold through online channels, even if they’re displayed in brick and mortar stores.
We anticipate that electronics are going to continue to move deeper into the e-commerce world. The reason for this is likely as basic as “techies love tech.” People who want to purchase the newest in technology and electronics likely already have hot products, like mobile devices and tablets. They’re also probably searching for electronics on those mobile devices, especially since mobile is taking over.
With technology changing yearly—if not monthly—ecommerce is the fastest way for companies to spread and share their hottest products with the market.
Target recently implemented an omnichannel approach. Image via Target.com
We haven’t seen a drastic fall in movie theaters or music venues, so entertainment has not (and likely will not) move entirely to the digital sphere.
Still, in-home entertainment is changing drastically. With subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Prime coming out with their own shows and movies, the traditional television networks are getting worried. It’s becoming easier than ever for consumers to get their favorite entertainment delivered at the click of a button. And their loyalty is to the show, not to the network.
This is going to completely change the way cable networks are run. Likely, these networks will turn to their own subscription services or add themselves to existing platforms (which further promotes e-commerce B2B). We predict that in a few years, consumers will be paying a flat cost for the individual shows or networks they want, and “live” TV will be as ancient as a VCR.
We also anticipate faster movie releases after they’ve hit the theaters, which could also encourage a faster timeline for the production of movies. This might mean the number of movies coming out could ramp up quickly, especially when it comes to independent films shown both in theaters and through online platforms.
Technology is making travel easier than ever. You can book a flight and hotel faster than ever on a multitude of apps. Online travel agencies make it convenient to compare options and prices, and researching a new destination is as simple as typing the location into the search bar.
With more and more Millennials especially showing an interest in experience over material goods, a lot of online companies are launching in the travel industry. This means there’s greater competition for online travel agencies, which is further reducing the price for airlines and hotels—which, in turn, makes it even more accessible for a greater number of travelers.
Consumers are using their mobile devices to research new travel destinations, and many are making instantaneous decisions on their smartphones when the right accommodations fit their travel plans. So, a lot of the top sites have optimized for mobile search or created location-based apps that make it easy to quickly and securely book.
Social media also plays a huge role in the uptick in travel. People are getting more “wanderlust” when they see gorgeous content from all over the world being shared by hotels and social influencers alike. This longing for the “beautiful life” seen on social media has become a huge catalyst for travel growth in the new e-commerce environment.
E-commerce is changing rapidly. Traditional retailers are working frantically to keep up with tech changes, while other industries are creating their own foothold in the new e-commerce environment.
Don’t get left behind in this era of big changes.
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