The following is an opinion piece from Bernard Schreiner, co-founder of Paazl. Opinions are the author's own.
The e-commerce industry keeps growing, reaching $3.5 trillion in 2019, and predicted to reach $6.5 trillion by 2023. This means it's ever more important to make e-commerce a seamless experience for customers, from product availability all the way to the last mile.
Here's a look at the top four trends for this year and how businesses can benefit.
1. Ship from store
A trend that will gain momentum is ship from store. According to USPS, one way to lower costs is to ship from a store in proximity to the customer as opposed to a central distribution. The customer also gets the products faster as a result. What is better than quick delivery and a happy customer?
Using the ship from store method can also help stores better tap into inventory, allowing them to avoid sending customers low stock or out of stock messages. This shipping method allows for a variety of improvements. Your company can align inventory and in-house fulfillment centers with demand in the region.
To implement this system it's best to make good use of your space. Products should be easy to find for shoppers and employees. Then, you'll need enough room in the back to pack online orders and avoid confusion with in-store buyers.
For the last-mile, identify who ships cheapest locally and who ships cheapest nationally and internationally. It doesn't need to be the same shipping company. Using this method can free up space in your shop by getting products out the door leaving you ready to fill up the racks again.
2. The Digital Wallet
Online shops lose over 70% of customers within the last few seconds before a purchase due to cart abandonment. Often, it takes too long to input payment information and a delivery address only to be faced with the infamous "Sorry, we are unable to process your payment at this time," message.
Every new task a customer is given, the more likely they are to abandon the cart. Research by Forrester found that 11% of U.S. adults abandoned a cart because a site was asking for too much information. Online checkouts should provide faster ways to accept payments, giving customers less time to rethink the purchase.
A common solution is the digital wallet, a safe way for customers to pay online using their smartphone, PC or tablet. Digital wallets add convenience and ease when making payments, enabling shoppers to make rapid payments without taking out their bank cards. Technologies such as facial recognition and fingerprint authentication (often built into a user's device) make the process more secure.
In 2018, the top 30 merchants in the checkout conversion index accepted an average of 8.2 payment methods, including Amazon and Apple Pay.
Digital wallets are mainly API driven. When you choose a digital wallet vendor for your checkout process they will supply you with an automatic plug-in for your site and a verification.
3. Green shipping for all
We can expect to see more green shipping options in 2020. According to a Cone Communications study, 87% of consumers agreed that they would be more likely to buy a product from a brand that offered a social or environmental benefit.
Green shipping can involve delivering to pick-up points, using bikes within urban areas, or offsetting carbon emissions (at the customer or the company level).
UPS and DHL have started to swap gasoline trucks for sustainable electric trucks, and Walmart has begun an effort to decrease its greenhouse gases by 1 billion metric tons by 2030.
You can offer a green shopping option by educating consumers on the ways they can receive items and telling them which ones are most environmentally friendly. For example, consolidating orders into one parcel shipment, opting out of express shipping or paying a fraction of the shipping cost to offset carbon emissions.
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands ship straight to the buyer without the fuss of the middle man. These brands are competing with Amazon and eBay. A recent study found 40% of Americans purchased from D2C brands in 2019.
By oftentimes designing, launching and shipping their products, D2Cs can benefit from overall control of their brand's product and reputation.
Finding the flaws in the industry and making it customer-friendly are what D2C companies are doing right. They're able to avert risks by testing their products on a smaller scale and getting feedback without having to worry about other parties involved.
So, how can your company go D2C in 2020? Find an everyday item that people need and make access to it easy and affordable. Create a great virtualized experience, get your SEO on point and resolve the customer's pain points.
E-commerce is a fast-paced industry. To keep up, companies need to stay up to date with the latest trends, implementing the right technologies and innovations that will keep customers happy. Otherwise, they run the risk of falling behind.
When competing with platforms like Amazon or Alibaba that have always been digital first, it's important to use trends as inspiration for how your company can innovate.