The Future of Online Shopping: How E-commerce Trends Are Shaping Retail

The ubiquity of internet access has leveled the retail playing field, making it easy for individuals and businesses to sell products without geographic limitation. In 2018, U.S. e-commerce sales grew 15% and represented 14.3% of total retail sales, according to Internet Retailer. The growth of e-commerce has not only changed the way customers shop, but also their expectations of how brands approach customer service, personalize communications, and give customers choices.

The future of e-commerce depends on savvy professionals who are able to create a personalized, engaging online shopping experience for consumers. Those entering a career in business administration must adopt the latest technologies and tools, such as data analytics, machine learning, and mobile trends to meet the demands of today’s online shopper. Completing a program such as an online master’s in business administration (MBA) can help you gain these skills.

Trends Shaping the Future of E-commerce

Retail e-commerce revenues will grow to $4.88 trillion in 2021, according to Statista. As retailers adjust to this digital sales boom, online marketplaces are changing the way customers shop. Amazon alone accounts for 40% of online retail and 43% of e-commerce gains last year, according to Internet Retailer.

To capitalize on the opportunities presented by e-commerce, business professionals must be well-versed in the latest technologies and trends, including the following:

Customer Data and Analytics Improve Marketing Tactics

Online stores may not have retail clerks or dressing rooms, but they can recommend products based on customers’ interests, style choices, and preferences through the use of data. The future of online shopping relies on capturing patterns of shopping behavior. This then allows the brand to create strategic pricing, advertising, and cross-promotions on both an individual basis and based on widespread trends. For example, a brand may run social media ads during peak shopping hours, promote items that are often bought together, or show an ad for a specific item a consumer has viewed before.

Business professionals trained in market research analysis process customer data and uncover insights through a variety of tools. Analysts also use data to conduct product research, identifying which items are selling and how much customers are willing to pay. Product development, including what new products to sell and how to position them, is also increasingly data driven.

Analysts need strategic thinking, computer proficiency, and decision-making skills to succeed in the future of e-commerce. The recent explosion in online shopping provides an exciting opportunity for business professionals to step into a digital marketing role. Market research analysis positions alone will see 23% growth between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Machine Learning Creates a Personalized E-Commerce Experience

In the world of e-commerce, shoppers require a more personalized experience. According to Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that recognize, remember, and provide relevant offers and product recommendations. In fact, when online stores personalize the experience, 87% of shoppers said they tend to buy more, according to a survey from BloomReach.

Rather than manually analyzing customer information, data analysts utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to compile data and create customer profiles. Analysts use these profiles and insights (with the help of AI) to deliver personalized recommendations and relevant content, based on an intelligent algorithm. Gartner predicts that businesses that implement smart personalization in e-commerce can expect a profit boost up to 15% by 2020.

Although AI handles much of the analytical processes, market research analysts apply their own insights and understanding of consumer behavior to make recommendations and spearhead the continued optimization of e-commerce.

Online Shopping Is Going Mobile

The retail industry has been significantly impacted by the increasing use of mobile devices. Forrester predicts that by 2022, smartphones will account for $175.4 billion in retail sales. With mobile e-commerce, shopping happens everywhere, no brick and mortar storefront or laptop required. So what does mobile mean for the future of online shopping?

Mobile retail accounts for 45% of online orders, according to Statista, so smart brands are creating a mobile-friendly e-commerce experience. The website and online store should not only be accessible on mobile devices, but also optimized with a design or application that makes it easy to browse and buy from a smartphone or tablet.

The mobile e-commerce experience provides customers with customized products, more compe