2020 vision: the future of ecommerce
2020 shows no signs o...
The last decade truly transformed the way consumers shopped, converting the nation from high street warriors to online advocates.
2020 shows no signs of these technological advances stopping. From shipping solutions, to flexible payment options and more, Jon White, MD at InXpress discusses his e-commerce predictions for the year ahead, and advises how brands can continue to survive and thrive in the digital realm.
Quick and convenient shipping solutions
The 2010s saw the rise of free delivery and returns, followed by the introduction of next day delivery; and this trend is set to continue into 2020 and beyond.
Statistics show that 72% of UK customers will shop more if there is an option for same-day delivery. With 39% of customers citing convenience as the most important factor when it comes to shipping, it’s unsurprising that 79% would also switch retailers based on delivery methods.
From home delivery, to click-and-collect in brick and mortar stores, petrol stations and lockers à la Amazon, retailers have wisened up to their customers’ search for convenience; now offering an abundance of choice for collections.
But it’s the speed of delivery which is now arguably the most important aspect, with Amazon leading the way. Amazon Prime has gone one step further, offering same-day delivery in specific UK cities. ASOS offers this too, with instant delivery: if a customer places an order before 12pm, their parcel can be delivered between 6pm-10pm - great for last-minute purchases.
The fact is, many customers are time-poor, so you need to offer them the ultimate convenience, otherwise you’re at risk of falling behind your competitors.
If you haven’t already, look at ways you can automate sections of your logistics process - batch picking and sortation are both good areas to start. The aim is to cut down on your lead time as much as possible, so you can meet increasingly high demands.
Embrace flexible payment options
While debit and credit cards are the two traditional ways to pay for products online, customers have been looking for alternatives. After all, not everyone will have the money upfront on a debit card, nor will everyone have a credit card - or wish to use one.
Klarna has been revolutionising the way customers pay, and with it reporting a new merchant every 8 minutes in 2019, it’s clear that flexible payment options are only increasing in popularity.
As the CEO of Klarna stated: “We thought, what if you don’t need credit cards on file? You could just extend people’s credit and allow them to pay later on, really separate buying from paying”.
Klarna enables users to spread the cost of their purchase into three interest-free instalments over 30 days; ideal for people who would usually wait until payday before making a purchase. It also boosts the ‘try before you buy’ method, whereby people no longer have to pay to try on an online purchase, and then wait up to a week for the money to be deposited back into their account.
Many major retailers are offering Klarna as an option, including H&M, Missguided, Topshop, and ASOS.
The stats for businesses are looking positive so far: Klarna has reported a 20% increase in conversions for retailers using Klarna checkout, which increases to 80% on mobile. That’s in addition to a 20% higher customer purchase frequency - so it’s definitely worth testing out.
Personalise, or prepare to fail
78% of customers admit they will ignore offers that aren’t tailored to them,or aren’t based on previous interactions they’ve had with a brand.
We already know that customers are living increasingly busy lives, so it comes as no surprise that they expect their shopping experiences to be based on their own personal preferences.
Use innovations to your advantage. Technology has evolved in such a way that key information can be automatically gathered and analysed. Through big data, today’s technology can capture user actions; which, when combined with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning analytics, means behaviour patterns can be interpreted to provide you with a cycle of expectations.
Essentially, this allows you to predict what your customers will want - and when - enabling you to target them with highly personalised comms.
Product visualisation: from virtual to reality
The way we visualise products online has changed so much over the years. From one standard image, to multiple images depicting products at various angles, complete with zoom functionality... ASOS even has videos for every single product, so users can see how their clothing fits on their models.
It’s come a long way already, but 2020 will bring about even more transformation. After all, you can’t really see how a product will fit into your life - whether it’s a dress you want to try on, or a new sofa you’d like to put in your living room.
Enter augmented reality (AR). This technology enables digital images to be superimposed on the real world through a mobile device, and virtual reality (VR) can provide users to “enter” that world, through the use of a headset. For example, rather than just looking at an image of a sofa, consumers can enter a world where they can visualise that sofa in their living room, and see how it fits in with the rest of the decor.
It’s one of the most exciting trends to enter the e-commerce industry, helping to bridge the gap between brick and mortar stores and online.
Going green has never been more important
Greta Thunberg has made more people than ever wake up to the reality of climate change. In 2020, if you as an e-commerce brand want to thrive, you need to be fully committed to helping the environment.
33% of consumers see brands as being responsible for the environment. Two in three consumers think that brands who make public promises to be sustainable are more trustworthy.
Now’s the time to start doing your bit too. You don’t need to make massive changes overnight, but one way you can be more environmentally friendly is by considering the materials you use for shipping. For example, try to use recycled or biodegradable materials, such as foam peanuts, which can be dissolved in water.
Trends may come and go, but these are more than just trends. These predictions are shaping the future of e-commerce as we know it, bringing many exciting opportunities for brands who are willing to adapt and innovate.
Ireland is key launchpad for US expansion into Europe
The first transatlantic cable was laid between Newfoundland and Valentia Island in County Kerry, Ireland, in 1858. It was a flawed effort; the connection was poor, causing enough issues with efforts to send telegrams along it that major repair efforts were set underway immediately - efforts which ended up further damaging the cable line, severing the connection just three weeks later.
This first step towards transatlantic subsea communication, shaky as it was, laid the foundations of more than a century and a half of information exchange across the ocean, between the East Coast of North America and Western Ireland.
It’s been 163 years since the completion of the first transatlantic cable, an event which cemented Ireland’s position as the landing stage for subsea connections between Europe and the Americas. That position has, in no small way, been a driving force behind the country’s modern role as a landing stage for US and Canadian firms looking to do business in Europe.
Today, some of the largest firms in the world, like Pfizer, Janssen, Zurich, Metlife, Google and VmWare use Ireland for their European Headquarters. The combination of an English-speaking workforce (a boon made all the more important as Brexit makes the UK and the north of Ireland an increasingly complex environment that provides diminishing opportunities to access the rest of Europe), a cultural and regulatory landscape that welcomes foreign investment, and world-class connectivity makes the country an unparalleled choice for firms looking to establish a foothold in the EU.
As a result, Ireland has become one of the world’s leading data centre hubs.
Based on leading data centre firm Interxion’s Data Gravity Index, Dublin will be among the top five European cities that will contribute to Europe’s growth in data in the coming years, following London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. The amount of data generated in Dublin itself is expected to grow alongside its economic expansion, with the Data Gravity Index also predicting that Dublin will outpace cities and data centre hubs like Mexico City, São Paulo, and even Shanghai, to be among the top 20 cities to experience annual data growth by 2024.
Ireland ranks 6th in the 2020 EU Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), meaning that it is among the leading ranks of EU Member States in terms of the uptake and use of digital technologies. Likewise, the trend to locate data centres in Ireland serving overseas clients will continue to generate increasing amounts of international traffic
Managing the Dublin Data Boom
According to Interxion, subsea connectivity will continue to play a massive role in helping both international and domestic organisations digitally transform themselves to meet the challenges of changing markets post pandemic.
As the pace of global digital transformation - and the subsequent need for more connectivity - accelerates like never before, this rapidly developing world is driving urther demand for these cables as individuals and organisations become increasingly reliant on subsea cable’s exceptional data speed and capacity.
According to experts at Interxion, this connectivity will be pivotal to Ireland’s continued success in attracting international companies in the technology, pharmaceutical and financial sectors.
The subsea cable industry is a key contributor to the Irish economy across many sectors. The draft National Marine Planning Framework reported that subsea international networks make Ireland an attractive region for investment for the technology and digital sectors. Telegeography states that there are twelve existing subsea cables connecting Ireland to the US and UK, and a further four systems are under development. The Iish government’s statement on the Role of Data Centres in Ireland’s Enterprise Strategy identified Ireland as a location of choice for many different sectors reliant on digital and telecommunications capabilities, all of which in turn rely on subsea cable interconnectivity.
Subsea cables are of strategic importance to Ireland’s future as a catalyst for economic and societal prosperity. Ireland can be the ideal location for your company’s expansion plans. To find out how, you can hear from leading experts throughout the data centre and digital infrastructure industries on June 15, 2021, as speakers from the IDA, Aqua Comms, GTT Communications, euNetworks and Interxion discuss subsea cabling, digital transformation, Data Gravity and the fate of Ireland’s digital economy.
Key topics will include:
- Key facts about existing subsea infrastructure,
- Future plans,
- Challenges (including Marine Maintenance) and opportunities,
- Terrestrial networks (demand vs supply);
- Ireland's role as a gateway to Europe
The virtual panel (which is taking place between 10:30 PM - 11:30 PM JST on June 15, 2021) will conclude with a 20 minute Q&A. Mike Hollands, Senior Director of Market Development at Interxion, will moderate the event.