The way forward for e-commerce in a post-COVID 19 world

The impact of COVID-19 has presented companies with unique challenges that nobody could have predicted just a few months ago – and this applies particularly to e-commerce.

By Validity Inc. VP customer retention Guy Hanson.

Guy Hanson

A recent report by the Australia Post found that the Australian e-commerce industry has grown 80 percent in the past eight weeks compared to that time last year (1). In fact, this year's Easter weekend was the busiest time in our online shopping history – a whopping 135 percent increase over Easter 20191.

As much as the pandemic has quickly changed our behavior towards online channels, the shifts are likely to continue forever. While many companies struggled to find their way around the situation, the crisis is also giving companies that are ambitiously investing in their online offerings the opportunity to establish themselves as market leaders after the pandemic – especially with AI, social tools, and analytics Extended roles in e-commerce are success stories.

With consumers getting used to online shopping experiences that are easily accessible, personalized, and lightning fast, the future of e-commerce in a post-COVID-19 world looks like this.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are becoming the norm

In recent years, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in e-commerce to improve the customer experience has gained momentum. In fact, Salesforce recently reported that 84 percent of marketers are now using the technology, compared to only 29 percent in 2018 (2). Now that more people than ever are using the online shopping experience, AI and ML will play an even bigger role in the future of e-commerce.

When used strategically, the possibilities of AI and ML seem to be unlimited. Among the many benefits, this technology enables retailers to better understand their customers, provide improved customer experiences (including 24/7 support), make more accurate sales forecasts, and realign customers who cancel their searches. For consumers, AI ensures that their shopping experience is faster, more seamless and tailored to their needs – all of the factors known to us lead to higher sales and earnings.

One of the key benefits of AI is the personalized experience customers get. While personalized marketing is not a new concept for e-commerce, the use of advanced ML tools (based on quality data) and rich media content enables retailers to bring personalization to a level where the experience is so individual and individual I will feel that the brand or product is built just for them. A Salesforce (3) report found that 69 percent of customers expect connected experiences. Therefore, companies that develop new processes in this area are ready to be one step ahead when it comes to customer attraction and retention.

However, it is important to note that the capabilities of AI and ML depend directly on the breadth, quality, and activation of the data that drives them – which means that data alone is not useful. Salesforce found that marketers in particular were among the top five challenges for data activation (4). AI and ML recognize and predict patterns from the data that is fed to them. If the data is bad, performance will be affected. Therefore, companies need to ensure that data is properly sourced, integrated, and managed using the right data management solution for their company.

Augmented reality to gain acceptance

For many of us, augmented reality still feels a bit futuristic, but as COVID-19 has proven, anything is possible, and augmented reality is geared to change the e-commerce space earlier than previously expected.

Augmented Reality overlays the world we see with information – images, texts and sounds. A big advantage of augmented reality for e-commerce is that it animates and enriches the customer experience.

Retailers can use augmented reality to make the browsing process more creative and engaging for customers, and help customers make more informed decisions. For example, customers can upload their own photos to the mobile app to see what a garment would look like on their bodies or whether a lipstick is the right shade before buying.

Augmented Reality also helps overcome some of the limitations of mobile devices compared to desktops, such as: B. the smaller screen and the more limited hardware. While many consumers surf mobile before switching to desktop or going to the store to make a purchase, augmented reality offers customers the potential to deliver the experience they want only on their phones.

Seamless mobile shopping is not negotiable

Mobile shopping is very popular in Australia. In 2019, 33 percent of all online sales in Australia were made on mobile devices, and 55 percent of people made purchases on their mobile phones at least once a week (5). These numbers are expected to increase significantly as more people are tied to the home as a result of the pandemic and will remain high in the future. In fact, it is expected that by the end of 2021, 73 percent of global e-commerce sales will take place on a mobile device.

It is clear that optimizing the mobile shopping experience for consumers is essential for future success. We not only shop online, we browse, we compare and share articles with our friends. For this reason, retailers and technology companies are busy developing new technologies that make the mobile shopping experience more comfortable, efficient and personalized. Social commerce, PWAs and AMPs as well as alternative payment methods are some of the biggest trends that companies should apply quickly.

The increasing use of mobile devices has also led to a thriving social trade economy. The use of social networks to advertise and sell products and services has become so effective at this time that social media apps such as Instagram and Facebook are referred to as e-commerce apps, in contrast to social networks.

The growing number of third-party and online payment options, which have made the purchase process even easier, has further strengthened mobility as a point of contact for customers. Payment systems or third-party e-wallets such as PayPal, Aliplay and Amazon Payments are becoming increasingly popular, as are voice payments, which according to Mastercard will total $ 40 billion in 2022.

COVID-19 has contributed to the rapid growth of the e-commerce industry in no time. And as more and more consumers adjust their shopping habits to take advantage of the myriad benefits of e-commerce, the stakes for businesses have increased. Businesses need to make sure they keep up with developments and trends in this rapidly changing industry, otherwise there is a risk that they will lag behind.

(1) Australia Post, 2020, Inside Australian Shopping; Insights into the e-commerce market,

(2) Salesforce, 2020, state of marketing,

(3) Salesforce, 2020, state of marketing,

(4) Salesforce, 2020, state of marketing,

(5) Paypal, 2019, PayPal mCommerce Index 2019

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