What Google experts remember mainly from the year that has just passed, marked by this unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, is the accelerated transition of traditional businesses to digital technology.
It is only logical that consumers have turned to digital commerce since the start of the pandemic and also because of the containment measures that have affected the vast majority of developed countries around the world.
Obviously, since people could hardly leave their homes, the digital channel has been a boon for everyone to order books, food, electronic equipment, etc. The adoption of e-commerce by a larger part of the population has therefore accelerated.
We have therefore observed many changes or adjustments among French traders. Many companies, for whom e-commerce was until then an accessory, have understood that it is imperative for their survival to achieve a digital transformation. Because even if it is still a little too early to draw definitive lessons from this particular year, it can nevertheless be said that consumer behavior has indeed changed. COVID-19, by its impact, has only accelerated a process that seems inevitable.
It is therefore time for most companies, whatever their size, to rethink their “business model” in order to upgrade, look to the future with optimism, and face the looming economic crisis.
Google recently shared its forecast for the economic recovery after the pandemic on its “ Thinkwithgoogle ” blog site .
In the rest of this article, we will therefore examine the 4 main trends that we should observe in e-commerce for the year 2021, according to Google experts, and which could guide your overall sales and marketing strategy.
1. The Essential Evolution Of Multichannel Commerce
In the current context, consumers have become reluctant to enter a store, to be in the middle of a crowd of several dozen people, to have to queue; basically everything we used to do in the near past. And we don’t even talk about the restrictions imposed by most European governments.
Retailers must therefore reinvent themselves.
On the one hand, they must be able to offer reception conditions that are both reassuring and comfortable. In addition, we see the need to evolve services and offer new forms of sale, such as “click-and-collect”, which gives customers the possibility of recovering the orders they have made on the web. or via a mobile application in a flexible way, and without having to stay in contact with several people for long minutes inside the store. We can also give the example of stores that offer self-service checkouts, or contactless payment using mobile phones.
With its free online tool “Grow My Store”, Google wants to help merchants improve their offers and services by analyzing their website. The big advantage of Grow My Store is that it will give advice on consumer trends in a specific sector, and identify weak points in your e-storefront so that you can correct them and improve the experience. customer.
But honestly, that’s not what will transform your business. The future, for merchants who have both a physical store and an online storefront, is to converge towards omnichannel.
What we call omnichannel commerce is the merging of pre-existing channels that operated in isolation, as separate entities.
It may be relevant to offer an “in-store” experience different from the “on-site” experience, but problems can nevertheless arise with this type of compartmentalisation, for example, when the customer UX proves to be disappointing in a channel. compared to each other. The typical example is a splendid physical store, welcoming, efficient and well stocked which offers a website with unworthy performance to its customers. The opposite is also possible.
Omnichannel is an approach to sales in which the emphasis is on a holistic and integrated customer experience.
An omnichannel transformation is based on the premise that most customers use multiple channels to interact with a brand or business before making a purchasing decision. This allows companies to adapt to new consumer behaviors, offering a unified customer experience, regardless of the channel used.
Basically, an omnichannel strategy is going to focus on the entire customer experience, not the individual customer experiences across different channels.
The biggest difference between multichannel and omnichannel commerce is that the former focuses on different sales channels, while the latter is centered on the consumer and their needs, concerns and wants.
An omnichannel business strategy will therefore logically focus on improving the customer experience, by offering more flexibility to consumers, so as to interact with the brand as they wish.
The implementation of a true omnichannel strategy makes it possible to integrate customer service, sales, marketing, inventory management, resource planning, etc.
In terms of efficiency, this represents a real improvement compared to a multi-channel approach.
Note also that the switch to omnichannel gives more value to your customers. These become more “profitable”.
For example, the Harvard Business Review found that omnichannel business customers spend an average of 4% more each time they shop in-store, and 10% more online, compared to “single-channel” customers.
But, then, how should businesses organize themselves to merge their physical and online activities?
Taking an omnichannel approach remains a complex process, just like moving from a single-channel to a multi-channel business.
Before embarking on omnichannel, it is necessary to take some preliminary steps:
Identify Its Customers And Its Audience:
Understanding the wants, needs and preferences of your customers is crucial. Solicit their comments and feedback, use analytical data, and examine your customers’ behaviors online and offline.
Upgrade In Terms Of Technology:
Technology is a critical part of implementing a successful omnichannel transformation. For an experience to be streamlined, intuitive, and personalized, your sales and customer management systems must have the ability to tailor each shopping experience to the customer’s preferences and other contextual aspects of their journey.
Set Up An Intelligent System Of Intelligent Data Collection:
The ultimate goal of a high-level omnichannel strategy is to have the ability to effectively leverage the data at your disposal. The combination and use of data relating to inventory management, CRM, points of sale, website, etc. will give you a competitive advantage. It is therefore essential to ensure that these elements work together smoothly.
Rethink Its Organizational Structure:
In an omnichannel business, sales, marketing, warehousing, product development, and customer service teams need to be able to work together at all times. To achieve this, you have to use the right technological solutions that will allow you to establish inter-team workflows and constantly inform all members of the company about new processes.
Invest In Efficient Software:
Don’t skimp on the price on this. Choosing a system that can handle streamlined workflows is essential to putting an omnichannel selling offering into practice.
2. Mobile Applications Are On The Rise
The second trend that emerges for the coming year, according to Google specialists, is not really a surprise. The time we spend on the screens of our smartphones is constantly increasing, year after year, and the pandemic has encouraged the development of this phenomenon.
It is estimated that people spent 20% more time on their mobile in 2020.
The progression of mobile support and the use of applications has been taking shape for some time, and it is now clear that companies must push to improve the quality of their application, synonymous with better UX and customer satisfaction. rising.
Google gives us the example of Starbuck, which was able to open its cafes during the pandemic, and succeeded in providing satisfactory social distancing by giving consumers the option of ordering their drink on the brand’s app. This measure has had the effect of reducing the waiting time in stores and the long queues at peak times.
What we also noticed is that orders placed using the application generated more than 30% additional spending on the part of customers!
Another consequence of the pandemic is the boom in the use of banking and fintech applications. In fact, the use of branches has fallen sharply, as has the use of cash.
The question is therefore no longer whether or not your online business should offer a dedicated application to your customers. The question is, what level of quality, service, and UX are you ready to offer your customers so that they can order your products or services serenely and easily from their mobile phones?
As a reminder, worldwide sales via mobile devices are estimated at $ 2.3 trillion for 2019 and are expected to reach $ 3.5 trillion in 2021, which will represent 72.9% of total sales in the sector. of digital commerce!
And according to Shopify , mobile support and tablets were the favorites of consumers during the last Black Friday and Cyber Monday, accounting for almost 70% of total sales.
So what are the benefits for your brand or business of developing and delivering a successful sales app?
First of all, a good mobile application will help you retain your customers and acquire new ones more easily.
Here are the main advantages of a mobile shopping application over a website:
- Mobility: Consumers enjoy greater freedom with an app, which they can use anytime and almost anywhere.
- Page load time: Pages contained in mobile applications load faster, therefore, they attract more consumers. It should be understood that in e-commerce, every second counts. Most visitors are likely to ditch the mobile version of your website if it takes longer than three seconds to load, and they are sure to turn to the competition.
- Personalized content: purchase preferences and previous orders can be easily saved in an application, which can therefore be used as the basis for personalized offers.
- Offline Access: The best e-commerce apps can provide users with basic functionality, for example to compare products or check prices, even offline, making full use of your smartphone’s performance.
But an app has many other benefits for a business that sells online.
It can allow you to collect and track data easily. You will be able to monitor user interaction with your app and products, and collect useful information, such as responsiveness to a given content, not to mention access to user comments, the duration of their sessions, demographics of your audience, etc. All this data will help you make relevant improvements and updates, create personalized content, develop an advanced marketing strategy and effective promotion campaigns.
In the end, your mobile application will pay you big, and you will quickly forget the cost to pay necessary for its development. The observation is clear: a good application with the right concept and the right functionalities attracts more customers to your brand; more customers means more orders, therefore your turnover will increase.
3. Take Advantage Of The Advantages Of E-commerce To Have An Eye On Foreign Markets
Google experts have noticed that online consumers in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) have had the same buying behavior towards online businesses based abroad in recent months. than before the outbreak of the pandemic, and they even noted an increase in purchases made abroad.
So do not neglect international trade to relaunch your business in 2021 or continue to develop its growth.
International trade will intensify in the years to come, and you need to start looking for the most promising markets for your industry.
To do this, Google has a new free tool: Market Finder.
With Market Finder, you can uncover promising opportunities for your business, based on country-specific data as well as valuable consumer information.
Then, it’s up to you to find the ideal marketing approach to break into new markets.
However, here are a few tips:
In addition to Market Finder, Google offers you other free tools that will allow you to properly prepare your commercial action. With Google Trends, you can easily estimate the interest that any country has in your products. Google Search Console also gives you the ability to observe the sales performance of your products country by country, if you are already selling abroad.
Then carry out a SWOT-type analysis for the countries you are targeting, in order to identify potential risks. At the end, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Which countries visit your e-commerce site the most?
- In which countries do people buy products similar to yours
- Who are your competitors?
- Do your products need to be changed?
- Is your price range suitable for this or that market?
- What distribution channels can you use?
- What about your duties, taxes and other charges?
Afterwards, you will have to start little by little. Test one or two countries to start, and only then can you decide to expand your market. One of the crucial points to analyze will be the quality and reliability of the shipping method.
Moreover, to start in international digital commerce, it may be interesting to use the services of a marketplace such as eBay, Amazon, AliExpress, or Daigou. With Amazon Global, for example, you have peace of mind when it comes to shipping your products and customer service.
One of the most determining elements in your attempt will be your ability to adapt to local specificities. To do this, you will have to create websites dedicated to the countries you are targeting, offer offers adapted to the local culture, as well as payments in the local currency.
Concerning the means of payment, find out well in order to offer the right option. For example, Americans prefer payment by credit card, while a majority of Chinese prefer to pay for their purchases online using digital payment methods such as Alipay. The more relevant payment methods you offer, the fewer cart abandonments you will have at checkout.
As we have already mentioned, you must give priority to mobile traffic, and therefore provide a powerful mobile application to your foreign customers, including their mother tongue.
There are of course other aspects that you can work on in order to market your products abroad. Think, for example, of the immense power and reach of social networks like Facebook or Instagram, and of hiring a local influencer.
4. Always Be On The Lookout For Consumer Trends
Finally, Google provides us with the main consumer trends for 2021, and strongly advises business leaders to constantly keep an eye on changes in the consumption patterns of online shoppers.
First, consumers’ ever-growing interest in digital shopping solutions is driving innovation for e-commerce platforms. The ever-increasing demand pushes all players in digital commerce to surpass themselves and be creative.
In Germany, the number of searches relating to the term “online shopping” has exploded this year, up by more than 80%. This necessarily influences the business strategies of all companies across the Rhine.
Then, Google notes that consumers want an ever more fluid and flexible quality of service, for types of products and services that we are not necessarily used to ordering online. Thus, in the United Kingdom, more and more people are having their afternoon tea delivered!
It is thanks to a tool like Google Trends that you can try to get an idea of the trends to come. With the help of this free product, one can see the popularity level of keywords, or groups of keywords, and even compare search terms. Several filters are available: choice of country, period, category, or even data source.
In addition to the trends observed by Google experts, here are some other avenues that you would be well advised to examine for 2021:
- ReCommerce Revival: “ReCommerce”, also known as second-hand commerce, will experience a revival next year. Thus, recent research predicts that the second-hand market will double in size over the next five years.
- Product personalization: have you been on the Nike website recently? Now you can customize every aspect of your Nike Airs. Product personalization is nothing new, but your ability to provide last-minute, affordable personalization is going to become a big factor. Plus, with 3D printers becoming more affordable, it’s only a matter of time before customization becomes the norm.
- Pure e-commerce players will now have a presence: today, there is a growing trend among online commerce specialists to offer physical stores. Pop-up shops, interactive e-commerce kiosks and physical stores are now attracting the envy of online pure players, to meet a demand for proximity from their customers. Even Amazon is taking the plunge, with its “Amazon Go” store chain. So in 2021 we will see an increase in the number of e-commerce brands on the streets, occupying “pop-up” and multi-channel stores, to bring online shopping to life.