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The three hottest trends in eCommerce right now

Discover the latest and hottest eCommerce trends, and how companies use new technologies to give their customers award winning shopping experiences.

By Subarna Ganguly, Staff Writer

Last updated February 23, 2024

Today’s eCommerce market is on fire, evolving at a dizzying pace driven by new technology, capabilities, and customer demand. According to Ecommerce News, turnover from online shopping in Europe grew by 13 per cent in 2021. And the popularity of eCommerce is set to continue as new technologies and platforms create exciting opportunities for retailers and shoppers.

In this post, we look at three of the hottest eCommerce trends and discuss how companies are using new technologies to give their customers the online shopping experiences they enjoy.

Headless commerce

In the earlier days of eCommerce, the only digital storefront a company needed was a website. As the eCommerce landscape evolved, companies started creating digital storefronts across multiple platforms such as mobile apps and online marketplaces. However, the older eCommerce back end set-ups weren’t designed to support this expanded ‘digital shelf’.

A new approach, known as ‘headless commerce’ combines application programming interfaces (APIs) and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications to decouple the front-end and the back-end of a website, enabling the delivery of content to any front-end framework. This solution allows eCommerce shopping to go beyond desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, enabling consumers to browse and make purchases through the internet of things (IoT) devices such as smart speakers and fitness devices.

Retailers, on the other hand, can streamline omnichannel selling and incorporate new sales channels and content quickly. Headless systems can also provide valuable data on how customers interact with content. Companies have been fast to embrace headless tech solutions. Big brands such as Toyota and McDonald’s are already using headless architecture. Headless commerce leader Shopify uses Zendesk for seamless omnichannel customer support and engagement.

In 2021, nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of enterprises adopted a headless approach, according to WP Engine. It’s also worth noting that headless CMS solutions (a complement to headless platforms) are seeing rapid growth in funding as well.

Social commerce

Social commerce enables individuals to buy products, services, and experiences from within the social media platforms they’re using. And while that’s by no means a new concept in 2022, there are some noteworthy developments in this area that are grabbing companies’ attention.

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok have already tapped into the social commerce wave, and many other companies, large and small, are jumping on the trend. According to Accenture, social commerce is a $1.2 trillion opportunity and set to be the next global shopping revolution.

Social commerce is successful because it’s just so easy to click and buy. Giving people the ability to make purchases inside social apps minimises interruption and makes the customer experience feel effortless and natural. Companies also have more opportunities to showcase their products to targeted audiences.

With social media a key part of many people’s day-to-day entertainment, influencers also play a significant role in social selling. An estimated 80 per cent of consumers have purchased products based on influencer recommendations, and we can expect influencers’ impact on social selling to continue. Influencer marketplace Collabstr forecasts that influencer marketing will grow to become a $15 billion market by the end of 2022.

If we want to understand the potential of social commerce, we can look to China. The country leads the way with social commerce, with an estimated $363 billion in sales during 2021, dwarfing the $36 billion of social commerce sales in the US (eMarketer).

Livestream commerce

Livestream commerce, also known as live shopping, enables users to view, discuss, and purchase products through video streaming channels. The audience can ask questions in real time and make purchases directly from the livestream platform, often through in-channel buy buttons. In China, livestreaming is huge, and it’s also growing in popularity in the US. Coresight Research estimates that livestream commerce will account for $35 billion in sales and 3.3% of all US eCommerce by 2024.

Livestream commerce can be hosted by celebrities and influencers, which makes the experience immediate, appealing, and entertaining. And the impact of a celebrity host can be staggering. During a livestream commerce event on Alibaba’s Taobao Live platform in 2020, a popular Chinese influencer sold 4.8 billion yuan ($719 million) of products during a two-day shopping event.

Amazon has its own livestream commerce platform called Amazon Live, which can be viewed in real time or via playback, and Walmart uses TikTok for its livestream commerce events. It’s not just the global giants using livestream. The trend is starting to catch on in Europe too.

In France, department stores Printemps and Galeries Lafayette have experimented with livestream commerce. Some European luxury brands are also providing exclusive livestream experiences. Gucci, for example, offers private virtual appointments that are tailored to the customer’s individual interests.

Chupi, an Irish heirloom jewellery company, has launched a virtual consultation service for their customers and uses Zendesk to enhance the customer experience and seal the deal. Brian Durney, chief technology officer at Chupi explained how: “When our customer care agents feel they’ve nearly got a sale over the line, but that customer needs to see the jewellery, they escalate the ticket in Zendesk, book a virtual consultation, and follow up with a post-consultation package. Those sessions have a successful conversion rate of 65%.”

Through Zendesk, Chupi’s customer care team were able to seamlessly track, nurture, and follow up with their potential sales leads at every stage of the customer journey.

“In 2020 we had a 300% increase in care-based sales, resulting in one million euros in sales directly from the customer care team,” Brian reported.

Enhance customer experience by embracing eCommerce trends

As eCommerce spreads out across multiple platforms, retailers looking to re-energise their businesses can leverage new technologies to help them stand out in the crowded digital marketplace and drive bottom-line growth.

These three exciting eCommerce trends form part of a wider digital transformation process for brands as they look to find ways to better meet their customers where they are.