The Future of eCommerce

“It’s not every day that you see completely game-changing ideas within the world of eCommerce. After all, there can’t be too many truly innovative ways to sell products online…” That is what I used to think, but this was before I stumbled across two new innovations that could really shake up the market.

3D Shopping

Firstly I wanted to draw your attention to Panoplaza’s new eCommerce platforms. These sites attempt to replicate the bricks-and-mortar feel online, with virtual shops. Using panoramic photos of actual store spaces, the websites allow visitors to visualise the products and walk around a virtual online shop.

Panoplaza has already created a three-dimensional online store for a Japanese sweet shop, where guests can browse a wide array of confectionary presented on the virtual displays. If you don’t believe me check it out for yourself. I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty amazing! I am left wondering, however, whether this type of elaborate design could actually slow down the overall process or even distract consumers from making a purchase.

Window Shopper

One thing is clear, though: this trend of a personalised and virtual shopping experience really seems to be catching on. The latest development to take the eCommerce world by storm is Pinterest, a design representative of window shopping.

If you’ve been living under that proverbial rock for the last few months, Pinterest puts web content into sticky-note sized blocks that users can organise onto their own pin boards. The majority of each block is filled by a photo, and the ability to “like,” “re-pin” or comment at the bottom make it appear like a web page in its own right.

For brands with highly visual products and creativity at their core, it could be a highly effective platform for promotion. According to new data from Monetate, the social pin-boarding phenomenon is driving more traffic to US eCommerce sites than Google+, quite impressive for a new start-up!

Have your cake and eat it

These emerging trends highlight how the boundaries between online and offline shopping are continuing to merge. Offline retailers are enhancing their online offers and online retailers are engaging in offline behaviour.

Savvy eCommerce sites are effectively combining the two channels. HMV, for example, has recently outlined a new multi-channel strategy that will incorporate a service where customers can order online and purchase in store. Our own research found that a staggering 52% rated click-and-collect as fundamentally important.

Consumer’s expectations are continuing to change. What once use to satisfy customers is now no longer enough. The modern online shopper wants to have their cake and eat it too! They want the benefits of shopping in store with the convenience of shopping online.

The Game Changer

Advances like these are really changing the game, revolutionising the way we shop with new types of interface. For e-tailers to be successful in these times of austerity, it’s imperative they look to exploit current trends with their own strategies. This doesn’t mean everyone should be jumping on the Panoplaza bandwagon, but there are fundamental lessons to be learnt here.

Both of these innovations clearly indicate that eCommerce is moving in the direction of less text and more visualisation. Customers are also beginning to expect a more personalised and social approach in their shopping experience. These are all key areas e-tailers need to be focusing on in their website.

As an e-tailer, you will also want to make your customer’s journey through your website as easy and seamless as possible, providing them with the level of customer service they would expect in a physical store. Your webpage needs to be an extension of your store, so if you wouldn’t enforce all your customers to sign up with a long complicated process within your shop, why would you do this on your website?

As with all things internet-related, it would be impossible to predict which new trends will become mainstream and which will fall by the wayside, but if Pinterest’s astounding growth is anything to go by, eCommerce personalisation is here to stay.