Last year following the initial spread of COVID-19, we launched another study evaluating evolving expectations regarding the customer experience. This year, we expanded on that report with ‘The Future of E-commerce.’
Throughout the pandemic, e-commerce has established itself as the new retail norm. More than 8 in 10 Prosumers tell us they prefer the online shopping experience to traditional forms of purchasing. But as e-commerce continues to grow and evolve, it might have lost its lustre, with 1 out of 3 respondents claiming: “Buying online is convenient, but most of my e-commerce experiences are really boring.”
Drawing on responses from 3,000 consumers in Brazil, China, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States, this survey examines the future of the e-commerce experience.
Among the key findings:
The new rules of e-commerce: COVID-19’s impact has placed enormous pressure on e-tailers to upgrade their services: free shipping & returns, fast delivery, and easily accessed customer ratings have become a basic cost of entry. But to make a difference, nice-to-haves have emerged, including loyalty discounts (87% of Prosumers consider them important), recommendations based on past purchases (77%), and offering a variety of payment options (43%). Brands have an opportunity to compete not just on convenience and flexibility but on inspiration and experience. Nearly half of Prosumers (47%) would like to be able to create “inspiration boards on-site.”
Purpose beyond clicks: E-commerce is no longer just about business transactions; it’s about customer empowerment. Just over 7 in 10 Prosumers (71%) “expect tech companies like Alibaba and Amazon to inform and empower” shoppers “to make the right choices.” It is about doing right not just for the customer but for society. Over 8 in 10 Prosumers (83%) want to see more eco-friendly packaging, while around half (51%) expect delivery services to be as green as possible.
Operating on the right side of data privacy: Privacy is a top priority for 94% of Prosumers, not only for themselves but for their children. Almost 9 in 10 Prosumers indicated they are “vigilant with [their] children so they avoid sharing their data on the internet.” And 76% are prepared to boycott brands that are overly intrusive. So, what’s the new trade-off? Prosumers are willing to share their data with brands provided they get something in return, such as better customer service (45% agreed) or financial compensation (53%).
From a place to shop to a place to socialise: Making the e-commerce experience more human should include increased opportunities for interaction.
- E-commerce becoming more sociable: 51% think “brands could make the e-commerce experience more fun by enabling people to shop together,” while 52% think “the future of e-commerce will be platforms that allow shoppers to interact with one another.”
- E-commerce moving to social: Almost 6 in 10 Prosumers (57%) agreed that “being able to shop directly on social media will make the experience more fun.” If e-commerce becomes social commerce, influencers will need to rebuild trust: although 60% of Prosumers enjoy discovering and buying new products recommended by the influencers they follow, nearly 3 in 4 feel influencers on social media have become “sales machines.” Most Prosumers (84%) “want influencers to be held responsible for the products/services they recommend.”