Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

4 predictions for the future of ecommerce

By Daniel Alonso, VP – QCommerce, Glovo

The past two years have been so unpredictable that you might want to steer clear of trying to predict the future. But if there’s one area in which I’m confident my crystal ball is working, it’s ecommerce.

I’m not exactly making life easy for myself – ecommerce has been through plenty of twists and turns since 2020. Whilst that year confined to our homes, 2021 saw us yo-yoing between familiar surroundings and the outdoors once more.

But as 2021 shows us, old (shopping) habits die hard, as Black Friday saw almost half (48%) of UK consumers planning to shop online in the lead up to Christmas. This is compared to just 6% who planned to shop in-store.   

For some, the return to physical stores, heaving with other people (not to mention Covid) posed a stretch too far. 

But much like our return to work, and our return to ‘normality’ in general, how we adjust to life post-pandemic will be about adaptation and agility. That’s why my top predictions for the future of ecommerce aren’t just flash in the pan predictions, but ones I see as integral to the industry–whether this year or next, or the one after that. 

The world is likely to keep changing–whether it’s down to Covid or not. So to stay ahead, we stay adaptable; to an evolving world and an evolving customer. One for whom simplicity is high on the agenda.

Catering for the conscious consumer

Loyalty goes a long way in the world of ecommerce and a way to secure this is through purpose. But don’t make the mistake of tacking brand purpose on to your company–in any case, a more discerning post-Covid consumer would sniff it out in no time. 

Rather it means that there’s a business argument to you and your company having something to say in the larger conversations. More than half of the younger, future generations of shoppers are aware of brands’ commitments to sustainability, whilst 90% of Gen Z shoppers believe companies should address racial equity.

To these generations, silence = compliance, and consumers won’t want to side with a company that has nothing to say. Customers are four times more likely to purchase something from purpose-led companies, whilst their trust (a valuable commodity in a crowded marketplace) goes up 4.1 times.

ecommerce companies can no longer afford to sit on the fence in an age where values are more important than ever.

Staying competitive with an in-person world

This year will undoubtedly see the return of people growing more comfortable with in-person shopping. But to lure customers back, we can expect physical stores and brands to invest heavily in experiential marketing; offering something you can’t necessarily get sat at a computer screen.

ecommerce needs to bring its A-game and adopt omnichannel experiences to offer a hybrid purchase. Expect might look to China for inspiration, where ecommerce, social media and general showmanship create an “online-shopping emporia”.

The rise of hybrid ecommerce experiences, as evidenced by BuzzFeed’s Shopping +, shows us how ecommerce can stay convenient to compete. 

The rise of QCommerce

27% of shoppers say fast shipping has a very significant influence on their decision to order online. This is marginally ahead of free shipping (25%) and shows how for the new generation of shoppers, speed is key! 

Expect to see ecommerce players take their cue from food delivery players in the same way supermarkets have, and begin to offer same-day delivery. 54% of shoppers say they’re likely to look at a product online before buying it in store. To bring this figure down and convert those purchases, ecommerce needs to be able to match the speed of a trip to the shops. 

It also means tapping into multiple categories so that you’re covering off multiple purchasing occasions for consumers.

For ecommerce to compete, it needs to bring more Q and fewer queues.  

Knowing the customer like never before

Apple is allowing users of their devices to opt out of tracking, while by the end of the year, third-party cookies will be no more on Google Chrome. This means traditional ways for ecommerce players to know their customers will be off limits. 

To ensure they still have a lodestar to guide them in their customer pursuits, companies must make the most of first-party data, but also zero-party data too. This means finding ways to engage customers outside of a purchase. 

Internally, only 56% of marketers believe their organisations offer a clear value exchange in return for customers data. Now, whether they like it or not, they’re going to have to work harder for it. But the upside of this is that we should see a more meaningful rise in customer engagement and more robust, and profitable, relationships as a result. This means a deeper understanding of who customers are, and not just what they buy.


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