Although e-commerce was becoming increasingly popular in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic turbocharged the industry in 2020 and in many cases made buying online a necessity rather than just a luxury. In fact, online sales skyrocketed by 31% between April and June of this year and this trend looks set to continue as we approach the end of the year and the festive season. And with 21.8% of the global population shopping online, that’s no surprise!
To get a better understanding of just how much e-commerce has increased, e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.8 trillion worldwide by next year and it is estimated that by the end of 2020 the surge in online shopping will have contributed an additional £5.3 billion to UK e-commerce sales alone. Those are some pretty big statistics.
This jump in e-commerce as a result of the pandemic has changed the retail landscape forever, but a rise in sales isn’t the only development to emerge from 2020. The boost in online retail has revealed a number of bigger and more interesting developments this year and we’re going to look at these in more detail below.
- Men spend more time shopping online than women
The stereotype goes that women love to shop and that they could just spend all day browsing the shops or searching the internet for great buys. In reality, statistics from 2020 have found that men spend on average 68% more online than their female counterparts. The biggest reason behind this is because men tend to make bigger purchases generally, buying things like tech and gadgets.
This is an important development and these insights can actually help businesses to better target their audience in the future. Below, we’ll look in more detail at what age group have been spending most online in 2020.
- Generation X does the most online shopping
Often the younger generations (Millennials and Gen Z) are accused of spending all their time online, constantly attached to their mobile devices. But one of the biggest reveals of 2020 is that the younger generations are more conscious about what, where and how they buy their goods and it is, in fact, Generation X that spend the most money shopping online. Again, this can help businesses and marketing professionals to better understand their audience and who they need to be targeting over the coming year.
- Social media is the key to e-commerce success
Now let’s move away from demographics and begin to look at technological developments in 2020. We’ll start simple with social media. It is no secret that being on social media is good for business and can have a number of key benefits. However, findings from 2020 revealed that online stores that are active on their social media channels can increase their sales by up to 32%.
This is unsurprising given that in 2020 more people than ever signed up for social media in a bid to stay connected. Not only this but with people spending more of their day online, it stands to reason that a large percentage of this will be on social media platforms, making these the ideal places for businesses to reach out and engage with their customer base.
- Voice commerce has grown in popularity
The effect of the pandemic on retail spending has seen shifts in consumer behaviours but not only in what they’re buying but how they’re buying it. Part of the e-commerce boom has come as a result of what has become known as voice commerce. Smart home devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Nest have grown in popularity, especially with people spending more time at home than ever before (as a result of lockdowns, social distancing and the virus in general).
Data from Oberlo found that in the US, nearly 40% of internet users also used voice search. These smart devices allow users to make an online purchase with their voice, without having to go online themselves. For example, the Amazon Echo can order directly from the e-commerce platform on command, without consumers so much as having to look at a phone or computer. This has made shopping even easier and contributed towards the e-commerce boom this past year.
- Artificial Intelligence is a big part of the customer experience
With many consumers unable to just pop in store and some even struggling to reach retailers on the phone because many had to shut their business for a while, Artificial Intelligence (AI) became a crucial part of the e-commerce experience. There might have been a global pandemic, but customers still wanted to feel valued and be able to get the support they need. This led many businesses to invest in chatbots and virtual assistants that could be there to help when they couldn’t.
Now, this use of AI is not new and has steadily been growing in popularity, but 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for this type of support. It has been estimated that AI will become a crucial investment for many e-commerce businesses and that 47% of online stores will use chatbots for customer care and a further 40% will deploy virtual assistants in the next few years.
- Personalising the consumer experience became crucial
Finally, with many people starved of human interaction in 2020, again as a result of the virus and subsequent lockdowns and shielding, the personal touch can go a long way to making consumers feel they aren’t just dealing with a robot. Delivering personalised experiences has become a focal point for many businesses over the last decade, but in 2020 it became more important than ever. This meant e-commerce retailers had to focus their attention on product recommendations, targeted email marketing, special offers and consumer demographics.
Using human touch-points such as recommended products not only helps to increase sales, but it can help e-commerce businesses to stand out from the competition – and in a crowded online market, this is very important.
Written by Sarah McCann, Blog Editor at NI Parcels. If you are looking for the best courier for your business then check out their comparison website.