The landscape of ecommerce has shifted, maybe more than any other time in history. Purchasing behaviors have led consumers toward online and mobile channels, and the shift is likely to stick post-pandemic. As a result, ecommerce has experienced a 129% year-over-year growth in North America this year, with a 146% growth in all online retail orders. According to emarketer, U.S. e-commerce sales will hit a projected $709.78 billion in 2020, or about 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales, up from $601.65 billion, or about 11% of total retail sales, since 2019. This 3.5% jump is the industry’s highest increase in history, and shows no sign of slowing down.
New data from IBM’s U.S Retail Index reveals that this new economic climate has accelerated online shopping by roughly five years. The report reveals that department stores are expected to decline by over 60%, but ecommerce is expected to grow nearly 20%. It is forecasted that ecommerce sales will reach $6.54 trillion in 2022, making online shopping the new digital frontier.
U.S. ecommerce sales will hit a projected $709.78 billion in 2020, or about 14.5% of total U.S. retail sales. This is up from $601.65 billion, or about 11% of total retail sales, since 2019. This 3.5% jump is the industry’s highest increase in history.
With a market capitalization of this size and scale, this changing economy calls for businesses in this sector to keep up with emerging trends to stand out from the competition and attract and retain customers.
In this article we’ll discuss some of these existing trends: the rise of m-commerce, the importance of optimizing the buyer’s journey with memorable experiences to drive sales, and how one multinational CPG company used Digital People to make customers twice more likely to buy their products.
How m-commerce is changing the future of customer experience
The precedent is set for mobile transactions, also referred to as m-commerce. PwC’s Global Consumers Insights Survey confirmed that smartphones have become the go-to technology for online shopping. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- Globally, 24% of the population are using a mobile phone to shop at least once a week, compared with 23% using a PC and 16% using a tablet.
- M-commerce growth has seen an average increase of 33.8% since 2016. Already, revenue from mobile ecommerce sales in 2019 is more than double that of 2016.
- Two out of every three dollars is spent on m-commerce with forecasts to continue and reach 72.9% by 2021, nearly three quarters of overall ecommerce sales.
- In the US, it is projected that m-commerce will reach $284 billion in revenue; that’s 45% of the total US ecommerce market by the end of this year.
Millennials and Gen Z shoppers are leading this shift, influencing Gen X and Baby Boomer family members to shop on their phones, some for the first time. As consumers continue to embrace m-commerce, businesses need to optimize the buyer’s journey at every stage of the funnel, with every device, and with the right messages at the right time. Discerning and intelligent with the Internet at their fingertips, this new wave of buyers are expecting delightful and frictionless purchase journeys or they will look elsewhere. McKinsey found that across industries, satisfied customers spend more and stay more loyal over time, while 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase due to a poor customer experience. With stakes this high, online businesses cannot leave it to chance – they need to rethink their existing customer experience strategies to compete and stand out.
Memorable Human Interactions Influence Buyers
According to InMoment’s Customer Experience Trends report, “human interaction” offers both the greatest opportunity and the greatest risk to the consumer experience. 65% of consumers report that genuine connections with product experts, brand ambassadors, and support staff have ‘highly influenced’ their decision to buy more products from a brand.
“human interaction” offers both the greatest opportunity and the greatest risk to the consumer experience -InMoment
When it comes to building emotionally-positive online experiences that convert into sales, ecommerce leaders need to focus on scaling positive human interactions to as many customers as possible and to prioritize technology that leads to positive memorability.
Increasing Conversions By 4.6X With Digital People
As a great combination of both memorability and the human touch, Digital People offer a personal yet scalable supplement to human interaction. They can be product experts, brand ambassadors, and support staff all rolled into one, at scale — without bias, available to serve 24/7, and able to connect with multiple customers at once. Digital People can help your staff when your site is experiencing high traffic, can take over when your staff is offline, can speak multiple languages in markets you want to expand in, or can hand-off more complex cases to your most valuable staff.
While they look strikingly human, Digital People only try to replicate the best types of human interactions – thoughtful, emotionally-responsive and empathetic. They smile when you smile, and can offer emotional support when needed. Digital People can help you with lead generation, become a brand ambassador, or answer your most frequently asked questions – the possibilities are endless.
As a successful case study, a multinational skincare CPG client has transformed their online customer experience with their very own Digital Person. Designed to guide ecommerce customers through their customer journey, their Digital Person provides advice on skincare issues, shares product recommendations based on their response, and helps customers better understand their own skin type. Their Digital Person is an integral part of their ongoing digital transformation journey, connecting with younger consumers eager for more meaningful and memorable experiences.
The results were significant:
Visitors who interact with the Digital Person are more than twice as likely to buy their top 5 products.
Website conversions grew to 2.3%, 4.6x higher than the industry average.
This thoughtful customer experience when offered to millions of individual customers (and prospect customers), makes this level of memorability hard to imitate. Their Digital Person not only differentiates their brand from competitors, but also gains competitive advantage from the data collected from her conversations with customers. Research confirms that memorable, emotionally-motivating experiences advance both revenues and customer loyalty.
Ecommerce is constantly pushing the boundaries when it comes to meeting customers’ expectations for emotionally positive and memorable experiences. Done right, being thoughtful about the end-to-end customer journey and providing customers with positive, emotional connections can boost engagement, build customer loyalty, and turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers.
* Ecommerce conversions grew 4.6x higher than the industry average