December 11, 2019
In recent years, technology experts have enhanced online shopping by creating wish lists, filters, comparison charts, mobile shopping apps, review functions, suggested items, social media integration, new payment methods, and security features, just to name a few. You can thank software developers, as well as the retailers that employ them, for these innovations.
As shoppers’ needs evolve, developers will continue to make new enhancements to improve the online buying experience. So, be on the lookout for the following online shopping trends in 2020 and beyond.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
Virtual reality (VR) enables layered experiences, such as a visual scene along with audio to get a full immersive sensation. Augmented reality (AR) combines real and virtual elements, such as, on a cosmetics retailer site, allowing you to view yourself with different makeup choices so you can see what looks best.
Retailers will begin to use both these technologies more frequently to enable you to experience products in different ways. In fact, by 2020, 100 million consumers will use AR elements as part of their shopping experience.
The impetus for retailers to use this technology comes from customers who want the best of both worlds from online shopping and in-store encounters. For instance, a home décor retailer might create an immersive environment in which you can try out virtual representations of furniture pieces in your own home.
You’re probably already familiar with recommendations from entertainment sites like Netflix and Spotify, based on what you routinely watch or listen to. Retailers can use similar underlying technology to make recommendations about items you might like to purchase based on past shopping behavior.
These suggestions can show up in a variety of ways, such as a customized home page that shows areas you might be interested in. For example, a clothing outlet that sells items for men, women, and children might recognize that you only ever go into the women’s section and that you always check the sale items. Therefore, upon future visits, the home page might only display tiles including links to those sections.
It’s possible you’re already using facial recognition for security on your phone. But it can also be used for shopping. This technology can help an app recall what you’ve done in the past, including your entire ordering history. With this information, it can assist you in ordering the same items again, suggest possible new ones, and expedite your purchases.
Further, if you go into a brick-and-mortar location of the same store, all your information will be available there as well, making your experience more seamless with relevant in-store coupons, tips on products you pick up off the shelf, or more personalized and efficient assistance from store clerks.
Do you love to go shopping in the physical world with your friends? Now you can do it online as well. Social media outlets have always enabled users to follow favorite brands and ask about product recommendations from friends and now they’re taking it a step further by providing a “Buy” button right in the application. Additionally, brands are creating partnerships with influencers who are putting out the word on preferred products from their own social media accounts.
Within some applications, trusted users can even curate their own “stores” of recommended products. While shopping at a specific site might be great when searching for a particular item, social shopping is better for discovery and incorporating a social component that might be missing from many online shopping experiences.
Online Grocery Shopping
If grocery shopping is your least favorite chore, there’s a way to make it a little less cumbersome: purchase your groceries online. Whether it’s placing an order and going to a store to pick it up or having your food delivered right to your door, these services are convenient and, depending on which one you use, inexpensive. Plus, 42 percent of online grocery shoppers say this method saves them time.
For example, Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, now enables you, through your Amazon Prime membership to get free, same-day grocery delivery from the specialty market in some areas. The Prime Now app makes it easy to place your order and you can also use it to communicate with your shopper and manage returns.
Faster Order Fulfillment
Speaking of master retail innovator Amazon, it has set the standard for fast delivery of all its products, forcing other retailers to make moves to catch up. Over the next five years, more than 580,000 autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) will be installed in warehouses and logistic centers. Driven by a shortage of human labor and customer demand, the rise of this technology will enable your favorite online stores to provide even speedier delivery.
Online shopping is big and only getting bigger. Technology has created ways for this commerce segment to take off in new and exciting ways. As we go into 2020, look for the features mentioned above as well as other fun, helpful, useful, and efficient ways to find and buy.
Malcom is a tech expert specializing in the software outsourcing industry. He has access to the latest market news and has a keen eye for innovation and what's next for technology businesses.