5 Latest Trends for Aspiring eCommerce Entrepreneurs
15 minute read
The practice of purchasing and selling goods or services over the internet is known as electronic commerce or eCommerce.
We have all seen this industry grow significantly over the past few years. And if you’re an ambitious entrepreneur, you may have even started your own eCommerce business.
But to truly succeed in eCommerce, one must know their business landscape well and, more importantly, be aware of the most important trends. This article will dive into that.
- eCommerce in the Hong Kong market
- Key statistics
- eCommerce trend #1: The power of AI
- eCommerce trend #2: Growth of green consumerism
- eCommerce trend #3: Online shopping is on the rise
- eCommerce trend #4: Physical cash is out
- eCommerce trend #5: The advent of social commerce
- What’s relevant for your business?
eCommerce in the Hong Kong market
eCommerce sales in Hong Kong have soared in recent years and will continue to do so. This is no surprise since more and more consumers are choosing online shopping over traditional shopping methods.
Hong Kong’s eCommerce market has been consistently growing within the previous five years. This is supported by decent internet and smartphone usage, better payment and logistic infrastructure, and increasing consumer confidence in online payments.
Two unpleasant events struck the region in 2019 and the social turmoil was followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it seems like these events only boosted eCommerce sales in the region.
But that was also something that many experts predicted as there was a sharp decline in customer footfall and revenue.
Various studies conducted in 2020 showed that more than 50% of all shopping in Hong Kong during the viral outbreak happened online and this trend is expected to continue in the days to come.
Popular eCommerce platforms
Hong Kong is unique in that it has a mix of mainland Chinese eCommerce platforms and international companies. Let’s take a look at some popular Hong Kong eCommerce platforms.
Alibaba started Tmall in 2008 as a spin-off of Taobao to cater to online retailers of higher-end goods. Tmall has developed tremendously over the years and is now the second-largest eCommerce website behind Taobao.
JD, which was launched in 1998, is Tmall’s major rival. The website is well-known for its sophisticated fulfillment and logistics skills, as well as its highly automated operations.
Taobao is China’s largest eCommerce website, having launched one year after JD. Alibaba owns the platform, which is frequently utilized by purchasers across China.
With over 1 billion users in Hong Kong and mainland China, WeChat is also the most popular social networking app. In recent years, the app has gained a variety of new features, including payment solutions, mini-programs, and a browser.
DC Fever concentrates mostly on digital items, with the purpose of providing up-to-date information about digital cameras, lenses, tablets, smartphones, and other electronic devices. DC Fever started its operations in 2002, and today it is popular among photographers and tech-savvy purchasers.
Here are some key numbers introducing the industry.
According to a study conducted by PayPal, around 86% of medium-sized to big eCommerce brands encountered logistics and order fulfillment issues during the pandemic.
The cash flow of 43% of businesses was also harmed as a result of the pandemic. Between January and June 2020, more than half of Hong Kong’s internet buyers bought more groceries and personal hygiene products online.
As a result, many consumers spent less money on non-essential items during this period. Value for money, simplicity of shopping online, and product quality have emerged as the new top purchase criteria in Hong Kong.
According to GlobalData’s E-Commerce Analytics, the eCommerce market in Hong Kong is expected to increase at a 9.9% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2019 and 2024, reaching HK$226 billion (US$29 billion) by 2024.
Consumers are progressively changing their spending from in-store to online to avoid disease vectors such as cash and point-of-sale (POS) terminals, and that’s why eCommerce payments increased by 13.4% in 2020.
What are the latest trends in eCommerce for 2021?
The eCommerce industry is growing more and more competitive.
If you want to stay ahead of the competition, eCommerce trends must be regularly examined. Not doing so risks your business of falling behind, regardless of how big your store may be.
To secure future success, you must constantly look ahead. Here are some upcoming trends.
eCommerce trend #1: The power of AI
AI software and tools can help your business in interesting ways.
Online customers can have automated, personalized experiences – thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
AI collects customer data on how they shop, and what they seek for in a product on a regular basis. It’s a type of technology that can’t be recreated in a brick and mortar store.
Even though many of the benefits of artificial intelligence in eCommerce have been slow to emerge in recent years, that will significantly change during and after this year. Both old and new brands may use AI to generate significant commercial impact as concepts like machine learning and chatbots become more prevalent.
For instance, AI can already provide recommendations for what your current customers should buy next based on their previous purchases at your online store.
Voice search is another concept that an eCommerce brand may use to get its items in front of people. AI will also be able to help in the backend and with inventory forecasting.
All in all, AI is there to help your store with personalized experiences, product improvement, pricing optimization, retail analytics, eCommerce site performance fixes, as well as customer service improvements.
eCommerce trend #2: Growth of green consumerism
Green consumerism is on the rise, and companies must respond accordingly. Poor environmental records influence nearly four out of ten internet customers’ shopping decisions. That’s a signal that businesses need to be more eco-friendly.
As an eCommerce company, you should aim to develop more environmentally-friendly methods. Consumers have become more environmentally sensitive than ever before, and for the right reasons.
Therefore, online companies must take action to ensure that their methods are ecologically friendly. To help build a greener eCommerce environment, this includes activities such as sourcing products from fair-trade organizations.
Sustainability is no longer the exclusive domain of a select few brands.
Indeed, changes in the economic, cultural, and social landscapes of many countries throughout the world have turned the focus to producing environmentally-friendly products.
As a business, you also have to be more aware of the environment. Failure to do so may result in the loss of both present and potential consumers in the future.
Don’t forget that customers want more sustainability across all industries, so you should find ways to be more environmentally friendly. Go paperless if you can, use biodegradable packaging, and also use recyclable supplies.
One great way to incorporate a paperless way of operations is to make the switch to digital signatures – and SleekSign can help with that. SleekSign is our free legally-binding eSignature tool that helps to cut down on your paper usage, without compromising on security.
Without such measures incorporated into your business, modern customers will not even check out your business if they can’t see the effort a company makes to save our planet. This trend is here and it’s here to stay.
eCommerce trend #3: Online shopping is on the rise
eCommerce sales have been rapidly increasing and with good cause. One of the most popular online pastimes is shopping. Online sales were predicted to reach $6.388 trillion in 2020, nearly twice the amount of all online sales in 2019. And as it turns out, the prediction was accurate.
In 2021, the total retail sales is expected to grow by almost 27% year over year to $4.891 trillion.
That’s not all, though. Despite the fact that online shopping is one of the most popular activities on the internet, its popularity differs by area. A growing number of consumers are resorting to internet shopping as online stores become more prominent.
A variety of reasons have contributed to the rise in internet purchasing, and one of the most important reasons is the level of comfort offered to internet buyers.
With all of the conveniences available, it’s no surprise that internet sales are growing at an unstoppable rate.
The rise of mobile shopping has been especially notable. Total mobile device sales are expected to reach $2.66 trillion by 2020. This value is predicted to increase by 18.8% this year to $3.16 trillion, before rising to $3.79 trillion in 2022.
This data must be taken seriously since improving the mobile shopping experience for clients can play a major role in numerous businesses.
The increased use of mobile phones has contributed to the expansion of eCommerce. That’s because, in addition to shopping online, people are using their mobile devices to explore and research before making a purchase decision.
Consumers are becoming more comfortable shopping on mobile devices as their trust in online shopping grows. This is especially true for Millenials and Gen Z customers. In comparison to prior generations, these generations are also more likely to shop online utilizing their smartphones.
But what does this mean for your eCommerce store?
Well, it simply indicates the need for you to optimize your website for mobile devices. Your online store needs to work smoothly on mobile devices. By ensuring smooth sales on mobile devices, you are making your business more accessible to a bigger audience.
eCommerce trend #4: Physical cash is out
COVID-19 has drastically altered our habits in just a few weeks. No one could predict what took place in 2020 and what we still have to combat to this day. While we do go out, we keep our distance, sanitize our hands, and restrict our touch with other people, especially when paying for items we buy.
However, there are two more important elements that have contributed to physical cash slowly dying out – one is the aforementioned rise in mobile shopping and the other is the convenience of contactless and online payments in the face of government COVID-19 measures.
Hence, there is no surprise that many now predict that the future of money is digital. Physical cash is slowly dying out whether some want to accept it or not.
In other words, we are moving toward a world in which all financial transactions are conducted entirely through digital means – a truly cashless society.
With consecutive crises (particularly the development of the coronavirus pandemic) speeding fundamental changes in how we manage and regulate money, we are increasingly seeing traditional banks and physical cash lose out to digital currencies and challenger FinTechs.
Simply put, digital payments are inevitable and we should all get ready to adopt these payment methods since they are most definitely here to stay.
Digital payments have gone from being uncommon to very frequent in just a few decades. In reality, for many people, the decision is not about whether or not to utilize digital payments, but rather how to make them faster, better, and more secure.
Of course, such a shift in the financial environment will have far-reaching ramifications for industry, society, and government.
Access to cash is dwindling as the number of bank branches and automated teller machines (ATMs) declines. Digital payments have become mainstream, and the multiple wallets that existed a few years ago have now consolidated, with Apple, Google, and PayPal dominating the market.
Despite the expanding accessibility of online payment channels, restricted access to cash continues to penalize some of our society’s most needy. Digital payment systems must create trust with clients, including addressing data privacy issues, in order to level the playing field and attract the “unbanked.”
Such platforms must also ensure the security of their systems while striving to promote adoption among business owners who may not only be skeptical of the tool but also concerned about the additional costs of installation.
It is expected that these issues will be tackled by banking institutions with the aim of gaining new users and improving the compatibility of payment systems among each other.
eCommerce trend #5: The advent of social commerce
The way we live our daily lives, including how we buy products, has altered as a result of social media. More and more people are using social media platforms to buy various items. These range from clothes, electronics, shoes, and much more. Nowadays, almost anything can be found on social media marketplaces.
And it all started when Facebook and Instagram introduced marketplace features to their platforms.
This is an excellent time for businesses to consider how to boost their social media presence, which is a terrific way for businesses to get discovered. As online shoppers are spending more time on various types of social media, eCommerce businesses can also work with Facebook and Instagram influencers to improve their chances of being discovered by their target demographic.
Additionally, businesses can simply integrate their online stores with social networking sites using platforms like Shopify and allowing internet users to buy directly from them through social media.
Moreover, social networks, such as Instagram and Facebook, have introduced new marketplace features to meet the needs of online shoppers.
These social media sites serve as sources of inspiration and provide opportunities for new brands to be discovered as users read through their feeds.
As social media becomes more integrated into our daily lives, its ability to impact eCommerce trends will only grow. As a result, marketers need to focus their social media strategy on the buying experience.
Make sure your business starts reaping maximum rewards by getting value from placing ads in stories on apps such as Instagram and Facebook. The platform still favors organic reach, so that might be a good opportunity to profit from it big time.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of video content. It really provides a whole new dimension to your products when it comes to marketing.
What’s relevant for your business?
Now that was a deep dive.
While all these eCommerce trends do make a huge impact in the long run, how do you determine which trend has the potential to make an impact on your business. Not every trend is worth following, so which ones do you think are worth your time and effort?
While some will provide significant value, others may be out of touch with your target audience or too expensive to deploy for your company and achieve a decent ROI.
Knowing your own consumers and competitors inside and out will help you figure out which eCommerce trends are a good fit for you.
There are a number of things you can do to assess eCommerce trends and make the best decision for your business. Evaluate the needs of your business, think about what you really need, and if you have the necessary funds for it.
These and various other factors will determine if a certain trend is relevant or not for your business.
Watch out for these eCommerce trends you have just read about. Thanks to technological developments and shifts in consumer behavior, you have to prepare and adapt to new eCommerce business conditions and situations.
Whatever trend you choose to follow, keep in mind that you should strive to improve customer experience and develop a long-term relationship with them.
Take your eCommerce evolution to the next level by evolving alongside it and leveraging these eCommerce trends.
But you don’t have to do this all on your own. As always, Sleek is there to help you. We can help with the whole business setup process, which means that you don’t have to register your eCommerce business on your own or deal with too much paperwork.
Once you get things off the ground, you would need a company secretary, as well as accounting and bookkeeping services.
The more you delegate and outsource, the more time and vigor you’ll have to focus on more meaningful business tasks that impact your bottom line directly.