By Robert Sanders, freelance journalist.
After a whirlwind of years navigating our way through the pandemic, many businesses were forced to temporarily shut their doors. Perhaps one of the most largely affected industries was retail.
As lockdown took over, this sparked the launch of more than 85,000 online businesses joining the world of e-commerce. Taking an easy lead was the fashion and apparel industry, with a vast number of retailers investing in new technology and e-commerce platforms to aid in the smooth running of their businesses.
According to BBC Worklife, “people are poised to keep shopping online, even as shops open their doors again. A recent UK survey showed that two in five people intend to carry on purchasing goods online rather than return to stores when they re-open.”
It looks like online shopping is here to stay so we wanted to explore what top trends are newly sweeping the digital world of retail in 2021.
The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more popular with online retailers. AI often comes in the form of ‘bots’ who help to raise engagement levels for e-commerce brands by providing automated customer service for consumers. Not only can this provide instant responses for customer queries, but it also frees up the time of the customer service teams, meaning they can focus on other aspects of the e-commerce site, adding to the overall smooth running of user experience.
AR and VR
Another tool growing in popularity is the use of Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR and VR). This genius technology allows brands to use apps to showcase products directly in the consumers’ homes. This works on anything from visualising furniture in different rooms to seeing trainers on your feet with your current outfit. This clever tool hugely increases purchases as visualisation is a vital part of the consumer’s online shopping experience.
The Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has a vast number of uses when it comes to aiding online shopping. For example, quickly allowing consumers to check if an item is in stock and which stores it is available within across the country. Another IoT which is gaining more traction is Beaconing. Beaconing enables physical stores to increase brand awareness by pinging local shoppers’ smartphones as they pass by. As IoT continues to evolve, it is also forecasted that Beaconing will become more personalised to the recipient, which is proved to encourage purchases and brand loyalty over time.