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2020 paved the way for some new e-commerce trends that have taken the industry by storm. The rising use of new technologies and the drive for a seamless online experience has given our customers higher expectations than ever before.

If you’re wondering what these expectations are and how you can best deliver them, then you’ve come to the right place. Below, we unpack these top five things we think your customers will be expecting from your e-commerce business:

  1. Seamless online experience
  2. Frictionless payment options
  3. Sustainability and ethical practices
  4. Personalisation
  5. Interactive assistance

1. Seamless online experience

A seamless online experience will help encourage your customers on their buyer’s journey. 85% of customers start a purchase on one device and finish it on another, so it’s important that your websites have good interfaces on both computer and mobile. If your company can’t support this, then you may risk shopping cart abandonment, and even loss of customers.

How to fulfil customers’ expectations

If you’re struggling to achieve a seamless online experience, consider investing in the following systems:

  • PIM (Product Information Management) system
  • CMS (Content Management System)
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system

A great PIM system will allow you to manage your product information in one place. This makes it easier to amend data as required so your product descriptions, images, videos and other media can always be up-to-date.

As for your CMS, a great one will help you optimise your web content so it's found by your target audience in search engines. You can use what you know about your customers (unified and stored in your CRM) to better predict what they might be looking for and convert that into an optimised e-commerce website that:

  • Ranks in search engine page results
  • Satisfies customers
  • Is user-friendly 
  • Provides a streamlined shopping experience that's consistent across devices and channels

Customer expectations 202

2. Frictionless payment options

The creation of Apple and Google Pay have paved the way for this ease of payment to be expected wherever you go. Even in brick-and-mortar stores, contactless is preferred by many people because it’s a quick and straightforward way to check out.

And in the post-COVID environment of 2021, contactless is going to be much more popular than handling physical money.

It’s important to offer as frictionless a payment process online as offline. As well as saving their payment details, try offering a range of payment options.

Think beyond the usual debit and credit card options. Apple and Google Pay allow customers to checkout with just their fingerprint – no need to enter card details. And PayPal transactions have 70% higher checkout rates than non-PayPal transactions (such as via debit or credit card) because it’s so much easier and quicker for customers to buy.

Then there’s also the rise of ‘buy now, pay later’ payment options. Swedish startup Klarna is one well-known example. Customers can complete their orders without paying the vendor. Instead, they pay Klarna up to 30 days after the item’s been dispatched. Some options, like Clearpay, allow you to split your purchases into several instalments. And it’s all interest free!

How to fulfil customers’ expectations

Due to the popularity of frictionless payment, you should be offering a wide range of payment options to suit your customers' varying needs. A range of simplified payment options are only going to gain popularity as e-commerce stores evolve with the other trends mentioned above, and you don’t want to miss out.

Customer expectations 20213. Sustainability and ethical practices

More consumers are prioritising ethical practices than ever before. A 2020 study found:

  • 55% of customers consider a company’s ethics and morals as part of their purchasing process
  • 46% actively choose companies that are more environmentally aware

The UK national lockdowns of March 2020 have had an impact too:

  • The number of people who want to buy more ethically has risen by 6%
  • There's a 200% increase in those who would prefer to buy from a smaller brand

In short, brands that are making amends to become eco-friendlier will have a robust impact on buying decisions.

4ocean has made adopting ethical practices a fundamental part of their business model. They match every purchase of a product with the removal of waste from the ocean. They also use eco-friendly packaging. Similarly, Lucy & Yak is a UK-based clothing company that uses responsibly sourced organic materials, as well as paying their manufacturers fair wages.

How to fulfil your customers’ expectations

If your brand isn’t actively choosing to be more sustainable, consider how you can make changes. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Biodegradable packaging
  • Sourcing products from fair-trade organisations
  • Going paperless
  • Using recyclable materials
  • Conserving energy
  • Paying workers fair wages

Once you’ve decided how, make sure to promote it so your customers know – they will love to see what you’re doing to help the environment

Customer expectations 20214. Personalisation

Personalisation has been proven to have a strong effect on revenue – one study found that it lifted revenue by 25%. Recent data has also shown that personalisation can reduce website bounce rates by as much as 30%.

Enfamil is a baby formula milk company that collects information about customers’ due dates or the ages of their babies. The company then uses this data to send personalised emails to customers talking about the stage of development their baby is at and how they can help. This is a great example of using data to capture customers and increase sales.

Customer expectations

How to fulfil your customers’ expectations

It’s not possible to create personalised marketing strategies without data. Thus, your business must invest in technology such as voice-activated AI and CRM systems to capture and nurture your leads.

5. Interactive assistance

Interactive assistance includes AR (augmented reality), voice search and chatbots. These forms of AI connect with customers and help build the relationship between them and your business. One study found that more than 60% of customers prefer to converse with bots and other self-service tools, such as voice search.

By the end of 2020, it’s predicted that 80% of businesses will be using chatbots. Likewise, it’s predicted that by 2021, those who have redesigned their websites to support voice search capabilities will increase revenue by 30%. This is because the demand from customers for this straightforward, interactive approach is high.

How to fulfil your customer’ expectations

Using virtual assistants in e-commerce can help your customer service team. You can add a voice-activated assistant or chatbot to help customers chose products and answer questions - giving your customer service representatives more time to spend helping more complex queries.

The use of AI can also help boost sales as they gather information about a customer and use that to provide personalised recommendations and opportunities to up and cross-sell.

Customer expectations 2021

Expectations become reality

Customers may have some high expectations in 2021, but it’s nothing we can’t deliver. Through technology, we can go above and beyond, providing excellent customer service.

Fulfilling customers’ expectations isn’t the only way the e-commerce industry is going to change. Want to be prepared for what else 2021 might throw in your way? Download our industry report below.

Check out the industry report

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