Digital Commerce: Trends, Challenges and Solutions
The digital commerce landscape is constantly evolving. As we head into the back half of 2021 and 2022 looms ahead, you’ll see that digital commerce is being pushed to the forefront for both B2B and B2C consumers.
You can see the evolution of the digital landscape in the numbers. 2021 figures from Forrester and Bloomreach indicate that about half of all shoppers went online to purchase products they’d never clicked on before, leading to double-digit digital revenue growth for online businesses so far this year.
The digital commerce landscape is shifting and becoming a monolithic source of revenue for all kinds of businesses. Get answers to basic questions like what is digital commerce, explore its importance, understand how it differs from other types of commerce, and find trends and solutions with the information below.
What Is Digital Commerce?
The digital commerce definition is the process of purchasing and selling products and services using online channels. These online channels might include the Internet, mobile platforms and apps, and other e-commerce infrastructures.
Digital commerce is more than just clicking "add to cart," though. It’s about the consumer’s journey. Digital commerce examples also include things like:
Marketing online products and brands to encourage sales
Supporting online and digital sales with people, processes, and technologies
Pricing online products
Brand interactions through web content and social media
Analyzing digital commerce data and making appropriate adjustments
Obtaining and retaining customers
Digital commerce is essential to today’s sellers and consumers, but there’s a little more to it.
Why Is Digital Commerce Important?
Digital commerce is important because it’s more than just a sales channel. In fact, it’s the lifeblood and heart of many businesses.
Why is digital commerce important? Consider the following factors, all based on 2021 numbers from consulting firms Forrester and Bloomreach :
Digital commerce is the fastest-growing sales channel
Digital commerce makes up a large contribution to revenue
Digital commerce brings a large percentage of sales volume
Digital commerce is the most essential channel in building consumer engagement
Furthermore, 77% of all e-commerce leaders and decision makers agree that digital commerce will be their most important sales channel within 1 to 3 years.
E-commerce vs. M-commerce vs. Digital commerce
The digital commerce landscape is not only changing, but also broad. You’ll find terms like "e-commerce" and "m-commerce" tossed around, but what's the difference? Let’s consider e-commerce vs. m-commerce vs. digital commerce.
E-commerce, short for electronic commerce, is basically any kind of online selling. If you set up a storefront on a website and launch a product, you’re participating in e-commerce. Your e-commerce online store might be a substitute for a brick-and-mortar store, or you might choose to maintain both.
There’s an app for that. M-commerce, short for mobile commerce, takes e-commerce into the palms of your consumer’s hands. M-commerce lets your customers engage and do business from their mobile phones. It might have a few advantages. M-commerce makes consumers reachable, you can track their locations, and it can be more secure thanks to fingerprint and facial recognition on mobile devices.
It’s predicted that m-commerce sales will account for over 60% of total ecommerce sales by 2024:
Digital commerce, also sometimes called D-commerce, is much more inclusive. In fact, digital commerce can refer to all online commerce experiences and each stage of the customer journey. The infrastructure used to sell goods via e-commerce and m-commerce is part of d-commerce.
A lot goes into digital commerce and it can be a power source for your e-commece and m-commerce businesses. Integral parts of digital commerce can include web content and social media posts, research and development, marketing practices, analytics, social media presence, customer experience, and even customer satisfaction.
Digital Commerce Trends
You know that the digital commerce landscape is evolving and becoming an increasingly essential part of the way business happens as 2021 rolls into 2022. Online ad spend is projected to top $375 billion in 2021 and this growth is driven by digital commerce. Investing in digital commerce can be a largely effective move for your business.
Digital commerce examples and trends can help your business remain robust and competitive as consumers shift further toward online buying. Let’s take a look at a few of the digital commerce trends and shifts to keep in mind as the online economy grows.
Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a game-changer for digital commerce. Why? AI is broad and can encompass almost anything. For example, AI can help digital commerce businesses create more targeted ads, increase customer retention, provide seamless automation, lend toward a more efficient sales process, and more.
Chatbots are a huge part of the AI trend in digital commerce. These automated bots simulate human conversation and a preferred channel of communication for customers. Chatbots meet customer needs quickly and can be an essential part of the customer journey.
Practically all consumers have smartphones in their pockets and this means digital commerce often begins at the palms of their hands. In fact, m-commerce sales are expected to account for nearly 73% of all worldwide e-commerce sales by the end of 2021.
Mobile-first commerce puts an interesting spin on online commerce. This concept encourages businesses to build mobile-friendly or responsive websites first, and then upscale for desktop versions. This lets businesses quickly tap into the m-commerce market, which is growing at an enormous rate -- especially for B2C businesses.
When it comes to consumers and their spending, there’s an app for that. In-app shopping accounts for a staggering amount of online sales. It makes sense, as the average American spends about 4 hours on their smartphone per day.
What do the numbers say about in-app shopping? A study of users of Android phones (which account for 73% of all smartphone users) outside of China found that the amount of time users spent in shopping apps rose 30% in 2020. This growth puts a unique spin on the importance of in-app shopping to today’s consumers.
Social media is an important touchpoint for businesses in the digital commerce landscape. Not only is social media a powerful marketing tool, but it is turning into a valuable sales platform, too.
Facebook and Instagram are great platforms for selling. Checkout on Facebook and Instagram lets you set up an online storefront within the popular social platforms and even handle payment processing for you. Another popular social app, TikTok, also has gotten into the social commerce game by partnering with Shopify.
Whatsapp is even in the social commerce game and is a popular platform for both selling products and services, as well as providing customer support. It’s easy to integrate selling tools with Whatsapp and other social platforms to provide a seamless experience across channels.
Online marketplaces are a big deal in today’s digital commerce world. These selling platforms facilitate shipping from many different sources and let concerns connect with sellers. Amazon and Walmart are big names when it comes to online marketplaces, but there are others in the game, too. eBay, Etsy, and even Alibaba and DHGate let consumers buy goods from multiple sellers based all over the world.
What is marketplace growth trending in digital commerce? It lets sellers reach a wide variety of consumers already shopping the platform. In fact, more than $2.67 trillion was spent worldwide in online marketplaces in 2020. The median commission fee charged was just 11%, which means much of this money counted as revenue for sellers.
Today’s consumers crave a customized touch. Personalization does more than just engage shoppers, as it can also drive sales and increase conversions. In fact, a 2017 study by consulting firm Monetate (now KIBO) found that businesses saw a 20% increase in sales when customers got personalized experiences.
Personalization comes in many forms in today’s digital commerce landscape. For example, businesses can deliver personalized experiences to customers by basing information and content shown based on previous behavior. For consumers, this might look like product recommendations and specific offers tailored toward their browsing behavior and demographic information.
Omnichannel support provides consumers with a seamless digital commerce experience. It lets you meet customers wherever they are, with the same experience each time.
For example, if a customer reaches out to a business via Facebook Messenger to solve an issue, but follows up on the website with a chat window, a great omnichannel support tool will connect the dots and jump off where the previous interaction stopped.
A robust omnichannel strategy will let the consumer’s journey take place on multiple platforms with a consistent experience. This is what consumers expect in 2021.
Sellers have all kinds of e-commerce apps to choose from when they’re ready to get down to business. Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Magento can all be easily integrated with WordPress and other tools to make your digital commerce business more functional.
What kind of functionality can e-commerce apps add? Many of these apps can help you extend your reach with built-in SEO, SEM, email marketing, and social tools. Some can help you streamline the shipping process with built-in solutions. Others even offer customizable CRM features to help you keep track of customers.
Consumers in 2021 are self-sufficient and tech-savvy. Providing self-service options not only lightens your customer service load but empowers customers to interact with your business in the way they prefer.
A 2021 round-up from SuperOffice stated that 70% of customers expect your business to have a self-service option.
How can you provide self-service options for your customers? Online knowledge bases empower customers to find answers to common questions on their own.
Image: Knowledge base article on JivoChat.
Shipment tracking lets customers see the status and progress of their orders in real-time. Online appointment booking lets customers take control of their schedules.
Looking to see conversions rise? Let your customers do the talking. According to 2021 data from Qualtrics, 93% of consumers have indicated that online reviews have impacted their personal purchase decisions.
Image: Users can see that JivoChat is one of the highest rated omnichannel business messengers.
Customer reviews work because they inspire trust. From testimonials on your website’s funnel pages to reviews on Google, Facebook, or even Yelp, letting your customers do the talking can pay off in a big way.
Challenges of Digital Commerce
Digital commerce is exploding and businesses are finding success in this online landscape. That doesn’t mean it comes without challenges, though. It can be hard to keep up with the constantly evolving world of technology and customer expectations are becoming increasingly demanding.
You can stay abreast of any obstacles and arm yourself for challenges by being aware of the digital commerce stumbling blocks below:
Technology: Digital commerce thrives on technology. Today’s consumers are on many platforms, which means your tech needs to be both responsive and desktop-friendly. There are so many tech-heavy solutions out there, from conversational marketing to video marketing, it can be hard to stay on top of changes and shifts.
Customer service: Companies in 2021 are facing an employment crunch. This means your business might not have the staff or resources to handle customer service across multiple platforms and all touchpoints. It’s hard to be on Amazon, Facebook, phone calls, and email at the same time.
Driving traffic: Businesses today need multiple streams of traffic to complete conversion goals. Organic SEO and PPC can only bring in so many customers and today’s digital commerce world also depends on email marketing, display ads, affiliates, retargeting, and influencers to send customers to e-commerce sites.
Despite the challenges above, there are solutions available. The right tools can help you excel and see growth in today’s digital commerce landscape.
Solutions for Digital Commerce Challenges
One way to excel in 2021’s digital commerce landscape is to seek out solutions for the challenges facing your business. There are many processes and tools your business can use to find success by enhancing the customer journey and boosting conversions.
Here are a handful of solutions to common digital commerce challenges.
You can make the most of your time and overcome digital commerce obstacles by automating tasks and processes. In fact, automation can solve technology and customer services woes, as well as free staff from routine tasks. Things you can automate might include:
Welcome messages, which let you greet and communicate with website visitors, returning customers, or even staff. Automated welcome messages can create a warm, engaging experience.
Image: welcome message for return JivoChat visitors offering a special promo code.
Thank-you messages can help establish two-way communication with your customers. Thanking them for the conversion -- whether they filled out a lead form, signed up for an email list, or made a purchase -- can establish credibility and trust.
Abandoned cart emails solve a serious problem in today’s digital commerce landscape. In fact, 88% of shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made. An automated follow-up email to cart abandonment can reel customers back in and encourage conversion.
Review requests can be automated after a live chat or agent phone calls, via SMS, and even via email. This information can later be used to collect valuable feedback and used to build trust.
Invoicing automation lets you stay on top of your revenue and collect payments simply.
Inventory management can be automated to give you real-time numbers about stock and supply. You can avoid overstocking, effectively fulfill orders, and even gain visibility by automating inventory management.
Customer support can be automated with chatbots. Not only does this free up your customer service agents, but also meets customer desire. In fact, some consumers (34%, according to 2017 data) actually prefer interacting with chatbots.
Meaningful traffic from qualified visitors is an essential piece of the digital commerce puzzle. The right lead generation strategy brings in traffic that is ready to buy. A few beneficial approaches to lead generation might include:
Search engine optimization can bring in quality traffic. Great content will attract customers ready to click "add to cart" and drive customers down the sales funnel.
PPC ads can catch customers’ eyes and drive them to your site. Putting spend on the right keywords and phrases can attract qualified consumers.
Social media lets you build a following, engage with customers, run targeted campaigns, and much more. Social commerce is expected to reach $79.6 billion in the U.S. alone by 2025, making these platforms essential to digital commerce.
Email marketing puts your brand right in your customers’ inboxes. Messages can be customized and segmented, allowing you to truly reach those leads ready to convert.
Retaining customers is very important to digital commerce success. Why is customer retention so important? The numbers. Data from Semrush indicates that the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60 and 70%. This means holding on to customers can seriously impact your bottom line. Boost customer retention by making your customers feel valued.
Loyalty programs encourage repeat conversions by offering an incentive to purchase again. Customers who collect points or engage in other loyalty programs can feel connected to your brand.
Special offers just for existing customers can also inspire repeat conversions. This recognizes devotion to your brand and makes customers feel like their in an exclusive group.
Personalization, like greeting a customer by name when they land on your site, can also send customers down the sales funnel multiple times. Remembering preferences can pay off again and again.
From analytics to encouraging customer retention, the right digital commerce solutions can lead to the growth of your bottom line in 2021 and beyond.
How to Jumpstart Your Digital Commerce Efforts
Finding success in 2021’s digital commerce landscape requires multiple moving parts. It can take serious time and effort to make all the pieces fit together, but there are definitely tools you can use to streamline the process.
JivoChat is a fast and easy solution to your digital commerce challenges. It can be implemented in mere minutes and comes with a host of benefits and features ready to go to work for you. Overcome digital commerce obstacles like technology, customer service, and driving traffic with JivoChat’s robust tools.
What can JivoChat do for your business? JivoChat’s automation features let you deal with customer service tasks with ease, in many cases even without human intervention. Analytics features built into JivoChat give accurate and real-time data about your business’s performance. Omnichannel messaging through JivoChat lets you provide your consumers with the streamlined experience they demand.
All in all, JivoChat is a smart solution here to help you jumpstart your digital commerce efforts. Are you ready to get started with JivoChat? Create a free account today and start taking advantage of a next-level digital commerce solution.
Sign up and try JivoChat for yourself!