When we think of the future of e-commerce, we think about stores that are nothing more than a keyboard and a screen. Largely due to the observed shift in buyer behavior underpinned by COVID-19 changes, people now prefer to shop online as opposed to spending time going from store to store.
Today e-commerce is a $1.7 trillion industry and it is exponentially growing. E-commerce started with the birth of the internet and has now become a widely accepted and utilized platform for businesses to sell their products and services. It is not only e-commerce platforms that thrive, but also simple stores take advantage of it — they have a chance to sell more and increase their revenue.
With so many new opportunities coming up, there is also an increase in demand and stronger requirements for e-commerce development. And this is exactly what we are going to talk about in this article.
Types of E-Commerce Platforms
Let’s start with the basics, with understanding which types of e-commerce platforms are out there. From the e-commerce software development point of view, all e-commerce platforms fall under two major categories: hosted and self-hosted.
A self-hosted e-commerce platform is when your business hosts their e-commerce application on their servers. This type of platform is best for companies with a large customer base or those who are looking for more customization. You will need to code it yourself, which might end up in spending more time, but it definitely pays back, as you get all features that your business needs. For example, you may want to have an inventory system that suits your needs. Allowing you to edit what appears on the front page.
Hosted platforms are applications that operate on a server and which you can access from any device with an internet connection. A hosted platform does not require any programming or design experience as it is done for you by the provider. Generally, these types of platforms offer the basics of an e-commerce site. Some examples include:
- Collection of templates that can be modified to suit your needs
- Basic SEO tools
- Shopping cart and payment options
These sites are great for beginners who want to keep things simple or who don’t have the time to handle more advanced features. Some of the most popular hosted platforms include Shopify, Wix, Jimdo, Squarespace, and Weebly.
Some of the most popular e-commerce platforms available today are:
- Shopify – a platform that offers a variety of templates and a user-friendly interface that is easy to set up.
- Magento – a customizable platform with a very large marketplace and a lot of extensions to choose from.
- WooCommerce – similar to Shopify, it is user-friendly and offers easy integration with WordPress.
- BigCommerce – perfect for those who want an all-in-one solution as it integrates seamlessly with other tools like MailChimp, Xero, QuickBooks, etc.
- Squarespace – an excellent choice for those who would like to build their store without any coding or design experience.
- Volusion – perfect for small businesses as it offers lots of free tools and integrations with third-party apps.
Factors in Choosing an E-Commerce Technology
Before you start developing your e-commerce application, you should define your product needs and the goals that you want to achieve. Make sure that your chosen platform can fulfill your needs. There are many technologies available on the market today, from simple text-based stores to advanced e-commerce platforms. The choice will depend on several factors that include:
- The type of business and its target audience;
- The products offered;
- The size of products, their complexity, and how they need to be presented;
- The types of payment methods you want to support;
- Integration with other systems and tools;
- The level of customization required;
- How often do you plan to update inventory and content;
- How easily can users find your products or services
At large, factors such as size, budget, and features will determine the type of platform you should use. For instance, if you’re a small business with a tight budget, you might want to use a more affordable technology that may not have all the bells and whistles you’re looking for. Or maybe this is your first time launching an e-commerce website and simplicity is what you need. On the other hand, if you’re a large business with significant resources – or just want to explore every last feature – then you need an enterprise-level solution, often a self-hosted one.
Main Trends E-Commerce in 2022
One of the most important aspects in e-commerce is being aware of what's happening in the industry. Trends are constantly changing, and knowing what they are can help you better prepare and update your business with modern technologies. This is why we're going to explore the booming trends of e-commerce that we are to witness in 2022.
In 2022, mobile commerce will be a major driver of online purchasing. In fact, it was predicted that mobile purchases will account for up to 68% of all e-commerce transactions by 2022. This growth is largely due to the convenience of mobile shopping and the time consumers spend on their phones.
A recent survey, conducted by Virtucono Digital Transformation for Salesforce, found that 69 percent of global retailers are implementing multichannel selling. With this shift in strategy, it's becoming increasingly important to have a unified customer view that is up-to-date across all channels.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already made waves in the e-commerce industry, and mainstream adoption is expected to skyrocket shortly. There are multiple ways how AI could improve e-commerce. For example:
- AI can help to detect and prevent credit card fraud make the shopping experience utterly risk-free;
- AI can make it easier for businesses to understand their customers' needs and offer them personalized products;
- AI can be used as a virtual personal assistant for customer service queries;
- It can automate all mundane tasks to free time for business owners to take care of other aspects of their business.
Microservices are the new paradigm for building e-commerce applications. A microservice architecture breaks up an application into individual pieces, which can run in their process, communicate via asynchronous messages, and scale independently of one another. The benefits of using microservices are clear – they enable faster development cycles to build and test different parts of an application separately, allow developers to work on different aspects of an application simultaneously, and improve scalability by enabling continuous deployment.
Blockchain is an emerging technology that has the potential to disrupt many industries, including e-commerce. It's a digital ledger that stores all the data of transactions, which cannot be tampered with or altered. This means that any information stored on the blockchain can be trusted to be accurate and reliable.
The world-known retail corporation, Walmart, already back in 2018, started to use blockchain technology to track food products among its supply chain. With the blockchain in place they managed to track food origins, improve food safety and in total reduce food waste due to being able to effectively trace any possible contaminated product back to its source and curb its further spread. This is just one example of how blockchain could transform aspects of e-commerce in 2022 – making it faster, more efficient, and more secure.
Nowadays, a huge share of all mobile search requests comes from voice search — 43% of smart speaker owners use voice search for shopping. With just a few words, people can request information and get matching shopping offers in a matter of a few seconds — Google claims 95% accuracy in their voice search technology. The rise of voice search means that companies need to start creating content and optimize their applications and e-commerce listings for voice search requests. This will take a considerable amount of time and resources, but it's worth it in the end as it will lead customers already interested in purchase to your company’s website.
Augmented & virtual reality
The rise of AR/VR will be one of the most transformative events in the history of e-commerce. The ability to use these technologies, whether for educational purposes or augmented shopping experiences, will change how consumers perceive products and brands. Some brands are already using these technologies to create more immersive shopping experiences for their customers.
As a result, shoppers can now interact with virtual 3D models on screens at retail stores, enabling them to easily visualize the products before they buy them. Another example is augmented reality apps that let shoppers virtually try on items from a retailer's catalog.
Augmented and virtual reality is just one way digital technology is transforming the way consumers shop. In the coming years, expect this trend to continue as brands find new ways to use these technologies to improve the customer experience.
Evolution of logistics
As the world becomes more and more digitized, e-commerce will continue to grow. Shipping physical products can be difficult and expensive. Thus, companies are compelled to search for new ways to optimize their supply chains, so they can minimize cash flow problems and decrease delivery time. With a little help from logistics software, companies can reduce the cost of shipping and offer their customers a better experience. Here are some ways that logistics can help you out.
Inventory management. One way logistics can help is by providing inventory management. When you have inventory in different places, it's hard to keep track of what you have and what's selling. With a unified inventory management solution companies can increase visibility into your inventory levels and better manage out-of-stock situations.
Delivery Management. One of the goals of any e-commerce company is to have products delivered to the customers in a timely manner and can keep up with the demand. To plan it companies need a corresponding delivery tool that ensures that products are delivered swiftly, and each delivery step is tracked. Businesses can rely on delivery management systems to streamline their shipping process and reduce costs.
There are many different innovations that will come to e-commerce in the coming years. What leaves no doubt is that technology will play a larger role when it comes to shopping and goods’ delivery. Thus, we strongly recommend you keep your finger on the pulse and choose the right technology stack to grow your e-commerce and logistics business. As a starting point we suggest reading more of our articles about e-commerce systems.