Many of us can remember what life was like before online shopping. You’d visit a store hoping to find the perfect item, only to find out it was out of stock or no longer selling at that location. If you were desperate you might hop into your car and head to another location to see if you got lucky and it was there, or you would resign yourself to the fact that you would have to buy something different, or wait a few weeks for an order to come in.
That type of patience was required from consumers, because there simply wasn’t another option. In the dawning of the online shopping era, however, that instant gratification and ease of shopping from your couch has all but removed the inconvenience and long wait time of the in store shopping days.
It also means that, along with technology in general, the world of online shopping is constantly changing right before our very eyes. Waiting two weeks and paying exorbitant shipping fees have diminished into overnight shipping and free shipping offers, like spending a certain amount and earning free shipping. So what else can we expect from online shopping, and what trends will we be seeing over the next few years?
Already more than a reality, and in use as you read, instant or extremely fast delivery is the future of online shopping. Our patience with shopping has decreased from waiting weeks or even months for a store to resupply an item, to waiting a couple of weeks for a postal delivery, to now not being able to wait more than a day.
Instant delivery has also changed the types of deliveries we get. For example, fresh food, liquor, and other perishable items can be ordered through certain delivery services. Considering that instant deliveries are becoming the norm, we suspect that we’ll start seeing things like men’s suit hire being available for instant delivery, or even men’s work shirts being delivered to your hotel room on a business trip when you’ve forgotten yours at home.
Drone deliveries will also change the way we think about online shopping. When we forget that birthday gift, we can simply call up a drone delivery service to ship that watch that we found online in NZ and instantly send it to your friend. Or if you can’t make it to your friend’s baby shower, you might be able to find free delivery online for baby clothes and send them instantly over to the party.
Purchasing from smart phones
Ease and convenience is the name of the game for online shoppers, and will continue to be a trend for quite some time. One of the ways retailers have begun to accommodate shopper needs is to allow for easier ordering from mobile phones and apps. By offering an app that is simple, safe, quick and easy to use, shoppers will gravitate towards it and tend to spend more time shopping that way.
The trend will especially work with people who are ordering the same things quite often, like someone buying company uniforms regularly, making it easy for a customer to pull open the app, see their history and easily click to purchase instantly.
Think about your own online shopping tendencies. Unless there’s something that you really, really want and don’t have the patience to wait for it, you will probably wait for either a sale, a coupon, or an incentive like points or free shipping to purchase something online. The very basic benefit of online shopping is being able to check on prices often, versus being pressured to purchase an item in store, because you don’t know when you’ll be back.
What this means is that consumers are taking the time to wait for incentives to shop. Now, it’s nearly unheard of to visit an online uniform store, online electronic store or anything else, without there being an advertisement for spending a certain amount for free shipping or some other incentive. Online shopping will continue to entice buyers with this as it’s now an expected piece of the experience.
Ethical and eco friendly companies
Online shoppers are realising the importance of researching and truly understanding where their products are coming from, which is why the trend of purchasing from ethical and eco friendly companies is becoming so popular. Many online companies are claiming a smaller, niche market, and offering fair trade or ethically made and produced products to capture this market.
Personalising the experience
Customising products is the original customer experience. Many people have grown to expect this service, but the trend will continue well past just product customisation in the future. Now, not just the products, but also your experience as a customer are designed especially for you. Products are filtered based on your purchase history, making some of the first things you see on a site to be something you’d likely purchase.
Many companies are taking advantage of social media as well, not just to advertise, but also to give their customers a first hand look at how things are done. For example, some companies are using Snapchat to show a side of their company you might normally not be able to see, like by filming a warehouse and showing how men’s work shirts are created and packaged.
While parts of these trends are still in motion, and will grow and expand over the next few years, it’s even more exciting to think about the shopping trends that are yet to come. These trends are just the starting point of the future of online shopping, who knows that other trends are to come!