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A new report analyzing two decades of online shopping by the United States Department of Commerce carried out by Astound Commerce has revealed that the online shopping industry has now become much more standardized compared to years ago where it was more of a case of ‘guesswork’. The report carried out by Astound Commerce for the Department of Commerce analysed the changes in over 300 metrics across 100 top retailers.

Perhaps the most interesting revelations the prevalence of personalised shopping, customer reviews and inventory management. Whilst these were unheard of for many of the last twenty years, they are now regarded as benchmarks with 90% of ecommerce retailers now utilising these techniques on their websites. Talking about this, Lauren Freedman, senior vice president of Digital Strategy at Astound Commerce said:

“The current e-commerce experience is almost unrecognizable from that of 20 years ago. The e-commerce experience has undergone such a vast digital transformation as technology has advanced and retailers have made smart digital investments to improve their merchandising and customer service tactics.”

For those that remember the early days of internet shopping, today’s shopping experience online really is very different. UX, such an important factor of the ecommerce experience today was not even a consideration back then, with very little variety of views and colours changing only about 12% of the time, compared to 96% today. Another change has been the use of online reviews. In 2015, just 32% of customers used online reviews by other customers to inform their decision whereas today 94% of sites now use online reviews to help customers, a testament to their popularity and usefulness.

Other big changes highlighted by the report include alternative payment options such as Paypal. Whilst once this was seen as unusual and innovative, the option to pay by Paypal is now offered by 83% of the top 100 ecommerce sites. The same goes for product inventory which was only offered by 24% of sites in 1999 whereas now it is offered by 95% of online retailers. A huge increase has also been seen in the use of product recommendations which only 38% of sites used in 2003 but are now being used in over 90% of online retailers. This reflects the much bigger focus now on customer experience, customer interaction and upselling after the initial purchase. Further change and innovation is expected. Lauren Freedman of Astound Commerce commented:

“With next-generation features such as chatbots, virtual reality, the digitization of brick-and-mortar, and the dominance of disruptors like Amazon and Alibaba we anticipate the commerce experience will continue to change dramatically over the next five years,” Freedman said. “We’re excited to keep analyzing this space, and can’t wait to see the next ‘big things’ in the omnichannel customer experience emerge.”

Further details about Astound Commerce’s 20th annual mystery shopping report can be found here: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb14187459.htm

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