I won’t bore you with the repetitive dialogue around how COVID-19 has changed customer expectations forever, I’ve done enough of that in recent blogs.
But what I will tell you is how the last 2 years of the pandemic have expedited the possibilities of what’s possible for the future of commerce, specifically with how customers and their expectations for new ways to purchase will be constantly changing at a record pace.
Before we explore some of these trends that should be on your radar, let’s discuss the “why” – why will consumers move so quickly into new purchasing trends?
Well, I believe that the pandemic has opened our eyes as consumers to become more comfortable with the uncomfortable. Consumers are more likely to embrace new experiences, especially when it comes to digital commerce. There were a lot of firsts because of this exact mindset, such as:
- The first online shopping experience for some consumers
- The first buy online pickup curbside
- The first grocery shopping purchases delivered to their front door
These firsts weren’t the results of a proactive choice – it was the result of the pandemic and the limited options that consumers had to get the products they needed. Their normal shopping behaviors were upended and as a result, new shopping experiences occurred.
With these new experiences, a shift in mindset also occurred – where consumers said, “Wow, who knew getting groceries delivered could be so easy, I wonder what else I can order and receive from the comfort of my home?” This exact mindset created a newly found curiosity with consumers to where they are now, more than ever, open to new experiences.
So, what are some of these future state commerce-enabled experiences that should be on your radar?
Virtual Reality (VR) displayed products
We will continue to see more products displayed in a VR-type setting. Consumers can visualize what the product looks like in their homes before they decide to make a purchase. Additionally, virtual product models and 3D renderings will allow customers to explore all sides of the product.
“Hey Alexa, I need more laundry detergent.” Now, this isn’t new per se, but it will continue to grow. Virtual assistants like Alexa will continue to dominate voice searches. However, what will be new is enabling voice search for a specific ecommerce store. For example, a large retailer of clothing and apparel might enable voice searches for subjects like, “What jeans are trendy for 2022?” Leveraging this type of voice search will help retailers combat voice devices like Alexa as they can provide value-added services to consumers who are looking for more than just generic product purchases.
Virtual Shopping Assistants
A trend that is sure to continue within the digital commerce space, specifically with high-end brands will be virtual shopping assistants. These virtual shopping assistants will help guide and nurture customers through product purchases that have higher complexities like specific sizing and fits. Additionally, I predict B2B organizations will start to leverage virtual shopping assistants, especially for B2B products that would fall into the Configure Price Quote (CPQ) space – which will help guide buyers to the right selections based upon their needs, but virtually.
So, which of these should you start to incorporate into your business today? Well, the answer is that it actually depends on several factors. The first place you should look to start is with your current customer and employee base, and what they articulate as being important to them. Based upon your findings, you’ll start to gather themes of what is important – and you’ll be able to frame up what is likely on the radar for your customers’ expectations and build in a plan to find new ways like the three mentioned above to deliver these ‘next generational’ type of experiences.
As Albert Einstein said “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” Tap into your customer’s current imagination and you’ll find the future path you need to take to deliver experiences that will become their expectations. For more information, contact our commerce experts today.