To stay ahead of the competition, Shopify store owners and developers should stay up to date with the latest e-commerce and Shopify development trends and technologies. The online landscape is forever changing, with exciting new ways to enhance your store and the experience you can provide for your customers.
There are so many compelling opportunities to consider that we’ve decided to present them in a two-part series, so join us in the first edition below as we explore headless commerce, AI and machine learning, chatbots and customer service, AR and VR, and sustainability and social responsibility.
Headless commerce is an approach in which the frontend, or the visual part, of an online store, is separated from the backend – the system that manages products, orders, and customer data.
Headless commerce provides greater customisation and flexibility than traditional approaches. Developers can design and build custom frontend experiences using their preferred frameworks and technologies, such as React, Angular, or Vue.js. This enables them to create unique, responsive user interfaces that cater to specific customer needs and preferences. Headless commerce makes it easier for developers to create a consistent shopping experience across multiple channels, including websites, mobile apps, social media platforms, and even Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This ensures that customers have a seamless, cohesive experience, no matter how they choose to interact with the brand.
At the same time, this approach allows developers to maintain and improve a single backend system. Developers can adopt new tools and frameworks without the need for a complete overhaul of the entire platform, allowing businesses to stay up to date with the latest trends and technologies while minimising disruption. Decoupling the frontend from the backend also allows for faster loading times and improved site performance. This is particularly important for mobile users, who often have limited bandwidth and expect quick, responsive experiences.
American online furniture store, Burrow, introduced a headless approach to their e-commerce store in order to achieve a fully customised experience that didn’t require developers to make simple changes. The upgrade resulted in a 50% increase in their site’s speed and performance, and two months after implementation they reported a 30% increase in conversions.
Personalisation powered by AI and ML
Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are playing increasingly significant roles in the e-commerce landscape. AI and ML algorithms can analyse vast amounts of customer data, such as browsing history, purchase history, and demographic information. Based on this analysis, the algorithms can identify patterns, preferences, and behaviours that can be used to customise the user’s experience.
By delivering personalised content, product recommendations, and promotional offers based on customer preferences and browsing behaviour, e-commerce businesses can create more engaging and relevant shopping experiences. Some retailers are even utilising dynamic pricing based on market trends, customer behaviour, and competitor pricing. Personalisation can guide customers through the sales funnel more effectively by presenting them with information that is relevant and engaging to the specific user. These experiences can lead to higher conversion rates and increased turnover for your e-commerce store.
Personalised experiences make customers feel valued and understood, increasing the likelihood that they will return to the store for future purchases. By nurturing relationships with customers through personalised content and offers, retailers can improve customer lifetime value (CLV) and drive long-term growth through higher customer satisfaction, increased loyalty, and repeat business.
American giant Target wanted to encourage online shoppers to buy as much from their store as possible. They introduced a model that utilises data such as common purchases to direct personalised marketing to pregnant customers and show them the items that they carry, increasing the likelihood that they would make purchases from their store rather than looking for the items elsewhere. The data was so accurate that they could even predict the trimester that the customer was likely in (certain supplement purchases, for example).
Enhancing customer support with chatbots & virtual customer service
In today’s fast-paced digital world, providing exceptional customer service is crucial for e-commerce success, and one of the fastest-growing Shopify development trends. Chatbots and virtual customer service agents are powered by AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies, which enable them to understand and respond to user inquiries in a conversational tone.
Virtual customer service agents can perform a host of common tasks for your e-commerce store. They can provide answers to frequently asked questions, such as shipping and return policy information and product details, as well as provide more specific information such as real-time order tracking and related details. They can also provide fast solutions for customers requiring technical support, and troubleshoot issues related to things like account recovery and site navigation. Your chatbots can even provide personalised product recommendations by utilising the above AI and ML technologies, helping to guide customers through the sales funnel.
Integrating chatbots and virtual customer service agents into your Shopify store can greatly enhance the customer experience. They can provide 24/7 customer support, ensuring that customers do not leave your site out of frustration when no one is available to assist them. Chatbots also respond instantly, reducing wait times and providing an experience where the customer feels valued, nurturing trust and confidence in your brand. The biggest benefit of this technology is cost-saving. These systems can handle multiple customer inquiries simultaneously, and ensure that your customer support staff are free to focus on more complex tasks and issues.
AR and VR for Immersive Shopping
Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are revolutionising the e-commerce industry by creating immersive and interactive shopping experiences. They bridge the gap between online and in-person shopping, providing customers with a more engaging and realistic way to explore and evaluate their products and brand.
AR and VR technologies are increasingly allowing e-commerce stores to provide their customers with 3D product views. Zoom and rotation features provide customers with the ability to examine products in greater detail and provide more accurate representations of size, shape, and appearance. Furniture can be tried out in a desired environment to help customers to visualise how the product will fit and look before making a final decision. Taking the idea a step further, virtual fitting rooms enable customers to “try on” products, such as clothing, accessories and makeup to determine the best fit for their personal needs, and virtual store tours allow them to navigate aisles and interact with products as if in a physical store.
AR and VR technologies are constantly developing, and providing online businesses with exciting ways to enhance their offerings. By offering more immersive shopping experiences, e-commerce stores can reduce uncertainty and build confidence in purchasing decisions, leading to higher conversion rates and fewer returns. Customers are also more likely to spend more time exploring products and interacting with the store, ultimately reducing the need for in-person shopping experiences.
In 2020, Nike introduced one of the first mainstream AR apps for their sneakers. With this immersive shopping experience, users could tilt their phones down to make various shoe types and styles appear on their feet. They could virtually try on shoes, and view them from multiple angles, while exploring assorted colours and designs.
Embracing sustainability and social responsibility
As concerns about climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation grow, consumers are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact. Additionally, people are becoming more aware of broader social issues and want to make sure that they can shop with a clear conscience. These are the driving forces behind a marked shift towards sustainable and eco-friendly e-commerce practices, as consumers seek out businesses that prioritise the common good and demonstrate a commitment to making a positive impact.
Implementing sustainable practices can reduce the environmental impact of your e-commerce operations. Initiatives that assist in reducing waste and conserving resources include sustainable packaging, energy efficiency, ethical sourcing and carbon offset programs. As governments and regulatory bodies increasingly focus on sustainability, e-commerce retailers should also make sure that they adapt to changing regulations and standards. With regards to broader social responsibility, initiatives to consider strongly include fair labour practices, diversity and inclusion, and community engagement and philanthropy.
This may seem like a daunting task, as the high road often can be, but it’s important to do what you can while also making sure that the companies you support along your supply chain match your values. Embracing sustainability changes can lead to cost savings and increased efficiency, and including social responsibility initiatives may lead to improvements in your company’s values and culture. By strategically letting your customers know about your green e-commerce and altruistic initiatives, you can also ensure their support and good favour.
In Part 1 of this Shopify development trends series, we have navigated through some key trends and their potential impact on current and future Shopify development and consumption. Keep your eyes out for Part 2, where we will delve deeper into some more exciting emerging trends and best practices for your e-commerce store to adopt.