E-commerce is a dynamic industry with continuously changing technologies, trends, and a competitive environment. It’s no surprise that the recent pandemic was a major game-changer for this industry, with both positive and negative consequences for all businesses involved. Consumer behavior has changed dramatically during the lockdown, prompting businesses to invest in e-commerce channels and internet marketing.
In 2020, more than 150 million consumers completed their first online transactions, according to Shopify. The number of internet shoppers increased dramatically in France, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and a number of other countries. Up to 6% of customers from these countries shopped on the Internet for the first time.
Given that the popularity of e-commerce keeps growing, online business owners need to know the current trends in e-commerce technology infrastructure and development to develop an effective strategy for the coming year and keep a competitive edge.
Modern E-Commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms help companies to adjust their website for online selling. It is a highly efficient solution as it combines front-end and back-end components. The main goal of such platforms is to organize and support the work of a website so the company will meet all the customer expectations. An e-commerce platform should correspond to some basic requirements:
- Third-party integration. The platform should be able to integrate with third-party applications for enhanced client management, marketing, SEO, etc.
- Full customer view. It should provide a consistent client service having a full understanding of all customer transactions and operations within a website.
- Attractive design. An e-commerce platform should not only ensure a responsive and initiative interface but also be flexible for new solutions.
- Business growth support. As businesses have a trend towards expanding, e-commerce platforms should follow such requirements as well.
Summing it up, modern e-commerce platforms serve to unite all business features such as order management, customer support, analytics, marketing, and others into one sophisticated solution.
Types of E-Commerce Platforms
A big variety of e-commerce platforms can be divided into two categories: hosted and self-hosted platforms.
Hosted platforms accommodate e-commerce projects on their server and offer some technical expertise and shopping cart functions at the same time. For using those services an e-commerce project is charged a monthly fee and sometimes a percentage of the revenue according to the size of the business.
Hosted platforms are a good option for newbies in online retailing as they are easier to deal with. Both software and hosting become the responsibility of the platform. In contrast, they lack personal touch trying to attract as many retailers as possible. This leads to another drawback – limited customizing options. So, an e-commerce project has to stay within the limits set up by the platform.
Self-hosted platforms provide e-commerce projects with only software solutions without hosting them. These platforms offer companies much more freedom and control over their online shops through a great variety of customization options. On the downside, such platforms don’t provide any technical support, so a company should be ready to face all the challenges on its own. The expenses and time spent on the launching are also higher.
Here is a brief overview of the most popular e-commerce web platforms.
Shopify stands out as one of the best platforms with over 500,000 customers. Shopify attracts many clients as it doesn’t require any technical skills and offers a big choice of themes with rich customization. It can be a good solution for both beginners and experienced players in e-commerce. However, being a hosted platform Shopify doesn’t have unlimited product options. What is more, the cost for its services may grow according to the number of features applied to your website.
BigCommerce is Shopify’s closest competitor. It is more popular among medium and small businesses. This platform provides quite the same features as Shopify but at a better price. It offers an intuitive and eye-catchy dashboard thus making it easy to use even for beginners. When it comes to drawbacks, it gives even less ability of customization offering some paid themes instead.
Magento has taken a lead among e-commerce platforms. This self-hosted technology provides its customers with limitless features and full scalability. It is used by medium and big businesses being too sophisticated for small companies. Moreover, to use Magento it’s necessary to have basic skills in web development.
WooCommerce is an open-source platform and a plug-in for WordPress. It is one of the most user-friendly and cost-effective solutions. WooCommerce offers total freedom in feature customization and has a rich collection of themes. This platform is free to download and to use when owning a WordPress website. However, here comes its weakest point as it is impossible to use WooCommerce without having a WordPress website. Although the majority of features are free it is necessary to pay extra to develop further.
Main Factors in Choosing an E-Commerce Technology
Choosing an e-commerce technology is a crucial step for the company. In order not to face any challenges in the future, here is a list of factors to consider:
- Budget. While planning a budget it is important to decide what are the main goals of the project and what resources should be involved to meet them.
- Size of the project. If the project is small it is possible to consider CMS or WordPress options. Open source platforms like Magento can be a good alternative for medium or big-size online shops.
- Integration. E-commerce technologies should easily integrate with other software used by the project.
- Technical support. Some e-commerce platforms offer support only during business hours, others have a 24/7 operating team. Moreover, support can be provided via chat, FAQ, or even tutorials.
- Security. It is important to make sure that the platform has all the required hack and fraud prevention measures so the customer data will be safe.
What Technology Trends are Having an Impact on E-Commerce?
The competition in the e-commerce market is tense. The company’s market position depends not only on the product quality but also on new technologies that make the customer experience more convenient. Here are some technology trends that establish high customer engagement and maintain their satisfaction.
- Artificial Intelligence. AI due to Machine Learning technology helps to increase website performance. It provides a personalized customer experience for improved sales and conversion. AI can also predict customer behavior and offer relevant recommendations on the products or services.
- The Cloud. Many e-commerce projects use cloud technology to support their operational processes. It improves the speed of the deliveries, makes the store more consistent and adaptable.
- M-commerce. M-commerce is a big part of e-commerce and, according to Statista, it is a growing trend. Thus, e-commerce projects have to adjust their interfaces for mobile screens or to develop special apps.
- Payment solutions. There is a big choice of payment solutions nowadays including PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Wallet, NFC, and many others. E-commerce projects should support them to offer suitable options for different customers.
- Beacons. It is one of the ways to enhance the personalized customer experience. This tool connects to a customer’s phone via Bluetooth and opens the company’s app. It allows the shop to provide more information about their products and services.
Current E-Сommerce Developments Trends in 2022
The future of e-commerce software development is influenced by innovative technologies and industry trends. Some of them have already gained recognition in the market, others need more time.
Omnichannel shopping will be crucial to the growth of e-commerce businesses in 2022. Taking your business to different social media platforms, marketplaces, and other retail websites might help you gain new clients.
Omnichannel selling conveniently unifies the e-commerce experience for your customers, regardless of the device or platform they are using. Its significance is supported by data, which shows that up to 73% of online customers use multiple channels while making purchases.
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are growing trends among e-commerce businesses since they allow providing customers with a personalized shopping experience and relevant product recommendations via predictive search.
Previously, manual suggestions were prone to errors, but now, automatic intelligent AI analyzes information such as a buyer’s gender, search history, purchasing history, and demographics to recommend products and services that are relevant to them.
Besides, businesses can take advantage of predictive analytics tools such as behavioral analytics, image identification, inventory management, and automation. According to research, the global revenue from AI applications is expected to reach 36.8 billion dollars by 2025.
The use of PWAs is one of the increasing trends in e-commerce. Online sellers are continuously looking for new techniques to boost sales and improve customer experience. The best way to achieve both of these goals is to use progressive web apps.
A progressive web app is a website that looks like a mobile app. E-commerce companies can use PWAs to provide improved mobile experience instead of creating and deploying expensive native mobile apps.
Gamification is an amazing technique to improve customer experience. Simultaneously, it enhances the shopping experience by increasing sales, brand exposure, and customer loyalty and encourages users to spend more time exploring your online store. It leverages users’ natural tendency for learning, rivalry, achievement, status, and socializing and turns it into a game.
Currently, the gamification trend is marketed as an app’s USP. As a result, a creative gamification campaign can also be a terrific marketing strategy.
Optimizing your e-commerce business for mobile devices is no longer enough – you need to incorporate a mobile wallet’s functionality. Additionally, you should consider launching a mobile application for your online business.
One of the most important technology trends for e-commerce in 2022 is a user-friendly mobile app. As the number of people who shop online grows, more people are realizing the benefits and the security of utilizing mobile wallets to pay for their purchases.
Chatbots and Voice Assistants
Chatbots is a technology that allows customers to get 24/7 support services while saving time and money for businesses. The progress of chatbots refers to NLP technology. Although nowadays customers often feel suspicious about speaking to a machine, with the development of NLP they will not understand any significant difference between a chatbot and a human.
Voice Assistants are another growing e-commerce trend. The best example is Alexa by Amazon that allows ordering items from Amazon’s online store with a voice command. Voice Assistants are becoming more popular in everyday life. Soon they are going to gain even more popularity in the e-commerce sphere as well.
Blockchain not only ensures secure online payments as it is a decentralized technology but also introduces new payment options, for example using cryptocurrencies. It caters to the demands of both customers and businesses: customers get fast and secure transactions while businesses find a cost-cutting solution for efficient work.
Augmented and Virtual Reality
AR and VR may totally transform existing e-commerce. They can provide customers with the ability to touch items while choosing them online. According to TechCrunch, between those two technologies, AR is taking a lead due to the increasing popularity of mobile devices. Thus, big companies like Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, and others invest huge amounts in AR to make a technological step forward.
E-commerce is a rapidly growing trend in the modern world. A wide choice of e-commerce projects creates fierce competition in the market. To find and to keep your position there it is necessary to respond to the latest customer expectations. There come modern platforms and IT companies that custom e-commerce development services for retailers. However, the further growth of the business is related to the use of innovations that increase company performance and improve customer experience. Following e-commerce trends doesn’t guarantee the leading position in the market but gives more chances for success.