Metaverse, NFTs, AR, AI and more! - Top eCommerce tech trends

The best way to give your online store a competitive advantage and continue meeting consumer demand is by staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies. This guide highlights the most promising new technologies and their potential impact on the future of eCommerce.
Jon Cogan
August 8, 2022

Between 2020 and 2021, venture capital investment in digital shopping more than doubled, reaching $140 billion. As a result, the eCommerce industry is rapidly evolving, with new innovations constantly being developed. Here are the top eCommerce tech trends you should keep in mind to take your business to new heights.

Mobile Commerce

MCommerce, AKA mobile commerce, involves shopping through your mobile device. Thanks to recent technological advancements making it easier than ever for smartphone users to shop directly from their mobile device, mCommerce is poised to become a major shopping channel. According to the market research company Insider Intelligence, mCommerce sales increased by more than 15% between 2020 and 2021, reaching $359.32 billion.

Current Opportunity:

Convenience is a key factor to the increase in mCommerce. To capture the 41% of global consumers that shop via their phones, optimizing your store for mobile is essential. It is crucial to make both the checkout and product discovery process easy on a small screen. Looking at the top shopping apps like Amazon, Etsy, or eBay design their experiences will give you examples and principles to apply when designing your store’s mobile experience.

Digital Wallets and Payment Plans

According to Fiserv’s consumer trends survey, Expectations & Experiences, 68% of consumers used a digital wallet in 2021. And it is projected that digital wallets will account for over 52% of eCommerce transaction value by 2025.

Additionally, other payment methods like Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) have also soared in popularity over the past few years. According to The Financial Brand, the number of BNPL users is projected to increase from 1.6 million in 2018 to 59.3 million in 2022.

Current opportunity:

One of the top 10 reasons U.S. shoppers abandon their orders during the checkout process is a lack of payment options. Remove moments of hesitation that can lead to cart abandonment during the checkout process by offering more payment options at check-out. Offering multiple payment options at checkout will position your brand as forward-thinking and it will show your customers you have their interests in mind.

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Blockchain is a highly secure decentralized digital ledger system. The transaction records are maintained across several computers linked in a peer-to-peer network. This data structure makes an irreversible timeline of data that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed and is therefore viewed as a more secure, transparent, and trustworthy way to store data.

The two most well known functions are enabling online stores to accept cryptocurrency for payment and allowing brands to sell online artwork as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As of July 11, 2022, over 81 million people have active cryptocurrency wallets. According to a study by small business invoicing and accounting firm Skynova, nearly one-third (32%) of the U.S. small business owners they surveyed, currently accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Additionally, NFT sales hit a record  $25 billion in 2021 and top brands like Coca-Cola, Adidas and MAC Cosmetics have minted their own NFTs.

Current Opportunity:

Although blockchain is relatively new technology, it is making its way into the mainstream and has the potential to improve and revolutionize a wide range of industries, including eCommerce.

The transparency, traceability and security of blockchain technology is a win-win for both brands and buyers. For example blockchain technology can be used by companies to track and verify products from manufacturers and products that have been returned by customers. Additionally, blockchain technology can help verify the integrity of marketing claims and common labels such as “Organic”, “Fair-Trade” and “Local”.

Mainstream adoption of blockchain technology will, and is already starting to, impact everything from the customer experience and transactions to reward programs, and more.

There will likely come a day when you’ll want to add NFTs to your catalogue or accept cryptocurrency as a payment method. In the meantime, you can stay ahead of the trend for when the time comes by familiarizing yourself with blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies and learning how to make an NFT.

AI Live Chat

Any uncertainty on behalf of the customer can result in a lost sale and most customers are not going to wait around for an answer to an email or  wait in a phone queue. Instead, they are going to look elsewhere. Live chat provides customers access to quick, personalized support without leaving your site and has the highest satisfaction rate of any customer service channel at 73%. Live chat also has a 40% conversion rate.

Current Opportunity:

AI-powered live chat, AKA Chatbots, are a popular tool for furthering your communication and engagement strategy without hiring more live agents. Chatbots can handle multiple conversations at once without the need for a human operator and have a faster response time.

AI powered live chat can offer your customers around-the-clock support but, chatbots can also be used to gather valuable feedback and provide personalized product recommendations to increase conversion.

Social Commerce

Social media companies are always releasing new features to incentivize users to shop, and merchants to list and sell products via their platform. Some of the latest features include, TikTok Shoppable ads, Instagram Drops, Twitter Shops and Pinterest Shopping Lists.

Staying up-to-date with the latest social commerce tools can be very profitable as social commerce is expected to grow three times faster than traditional eCommerce between 2021 and 2025. This growth is expected to be driven primarily by millennial and Gen-Z shoppers.

Current Opportunity:

Social media is an essential tool for marketing and sales. Consider which channels will help your products reach your target audience. Start by initially experimenting with one or two channels and then expanding your social commerce strategy.

Live Stream Shopping

A 2018 Cisco report, projected that by 2022 internet video traffic will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic, up from 73% in 2017. The current consumer demand for video combined with the livestream shopping surge in China, indicates that  livestream shopping is likely to grow in popularity in the North American market over the next few years. The U.S. live streaming market is expected to hit $25 billion by 2023.

Most live stream shopping takes place on social channels, with YouTube being the most popular platform for livestream e-commerce in the United States in 2021, according to Statista. YouTube is followed closely by the other major social media sites, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok as well as Amazon Live.

Current Opportunity:

Hosting livestream shopping events will attract traffic, engage shoppers, and drive sales. One of the main benefits of livestream shopping is that it is interactive. Livestream shopping can help build consumer trust by enabling viewers to casually browse, while asking questions about your products in real time.

Livestream shopping gives you the ability to showcase your products in a similar way to an in-store shopping experience. You can display your products at all angles and perform demonstrations to highlight how the product functions.

Voice Commerce

Smart speakers and virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana and Alexa make it easy to search the web via voice command. According to eMarketer, 40.2% of the U.S. population use voice search at least once a month.

Current Opportunity:

As voice search adoption continues to grow it would be wise to optimize your website for it. You can add voice search to your storefront with tools like Speechly by Wix. Additionally, you should take voice search into consideration when planning your SEO strategy.

Augmented Reality (AR)

According to Statista, there will be an estimated 1.7 billion mobile augmented reality (AR) user devices worldwide by 2024. Many brands are already using AR to bridge the gap between in store and virtual experiences. One example is IKEA’s use of AR, which allows customers to view a piece of furniture in their own home before purchasing. Another example is the virtual try-on experience available on Sunglass Hut’s website.

Current Opportunity:

AR’s biggest advantage is it helps customers feel more confident in their purchases by providing them with a deeper understanding of product details that can't be shown via pictures or videos.

Building a complex AR experience requires time and money and may not be feasible for every eCommerce business. An easy and affordable place to start is creating 3D models or 360° images of your products.

Headless Commerce

eCommerce stores typically consist of two parts: a frontend and a backend. The frontend includes all the customer facing aspects of your website including, product descriptions, images, and navigation. The backend includes all the invisible components that run your site such as the payment system and security functions. On a traditional ecommerce platform, the two layers are essentially fused together. However, headless commerce is a type of website architecture that separates the frontend layer from the backend layer. Meaning, you can make changes to the design of your store without impacting backend operations, giving you much more freedom over when and how to customize your website.

Current Opportunity:

Headless commerce has piqued the interest of many major brands thanks to its promise of faster load times, greater flexibility, and improved levels of experimentation.

The benefits of headless commerce are undeniable. Because transitioning to headless commerce requires the help of a developer with deep expertise in APIs and other technologies, large retailers stand to benefit the most from going headless.
However, for small to midsize retailers with fewer IT resources, there are various apps available by website hosting platforms like Wix and Shopify that allow you to code and deploy custom functionality.

AI Copywriting

Well-crafted copywriting informs and motivates customers to buy. Automated copywriting tools are working towards being able to generate detailed product descriptions, ad copy, blog outlines, and other helpful materials in seconds.

Current Opportunity:

Currently, AI copywriting is not a replacement for a seasoned writer, but it is a hopeful solution for merchants that need to produce lots of content fast.

Programs like can provide valuable assistance when creating blogs, social media posts and online ads. Most tools still require some level of human editing but AI can expedite the copywriting process by providing an outline or inspiration.

AI Image Generators

The use of AI image generators, also known as text-to-image generators, is a new hot trend on TikTok, attracting over 130 million views to date.

Currently, the leader in this field has been DALL-E, a program created by commercial AI lab OpenAI. However, Google has recently announced Imagen, described as, “an AI system that creates photorealistic images from input text.” With this tool, creating unique images is a very simple process, all you must do is describe the image you want to create using text and the program generates the corresponding image.

Current Opportunity:

Theoretically, these images could be used for marketing and advertising purposes. However, AI image generators are still in their infancy. Google hasn’t released Imagen for public use yet, as they address several ethical and logistical challenges facing text-to-image programs in general.

One ethical challenge faced by researchers is that the data requirements of text-to-image models result in the programs relying heavily on large, mostly uncurated data sets. Consequently, datasets of this nature often contain a wide range of harmful or inappropriate content. AI generators still require lots of training, filtering, and monitoring to avoid potentially racist, toxic, and generally offensive material and Google has chosen not to release Imagen to the public until further safeguards are in place. Additionally, Imagen is still undergoing development to address issues regarding image quality and better prompt comprehension.

For now, it is safe to say that although AI image generators are an exciting innovation, they currently do not serve as a replacement for traditional graphic designers.

The Metaverse

Defined most simply, the Metaverse is an immersive computer-generated environment where users can interact with the simulated environment as well as other users. The Metaverse bridges the virtual and real world together and can currently be experienced through virtual reality headsets, AR glasses, or a computer. Interest in the Metaverse grew exponentially after Facebook rebranded to Meta in October, 2021. According to a study by Razor Fish and VICE Media Group titled The Metaverse: A View from Inside, “ 33% of Gen Z gamers would like to see brands provide virtual stores for browsing and buying products in the Metaverse, while 30% would like to see brands selling skins and apparel for their avatars.”

The fashion industry has been particularly optimistic about Metaverse’s potential to help brands engage with consumers across the world. Several large brands, such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, are beginning to host immersive fashion shows and sell NFT wearables.

Current Opportunity:

Due to the high cost of development, the Metaverse is out of reach for most online stores. For now, it is worth keeping your eye on how some of the bigger brands are experimenting with this new technology for inspiration as Metaverse becomes more mainstream and accessible.

Which eCommerce tech trends are right for me?

The eCommerce industry is always changing. Our best advice is with your main business goals in mind, do your research and stay on top of current trends to determine which innovative new technology is right for your business now, and in the future.

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