Upcoming e-Commerce Trends — how merchants must prepare to not be left behind
(a commentary by Niall Murray, Director — Global Business at SALAMANTEX)
Even before the pandemic started, digitalization was advancing. Wrongly judged as a short-lived trend, many didn’t give it the needed attention and action. A costly mistake! Already in 2020, eCommerce in the DACH region (Germany, Austria. Switzerland) hit the 100 billion EUR level for the first time. The pandemic worked as catalyst for the eCommerce boom. Even as the pandemic has reduced in intensity, digitalization keeps advancing rapidly. The Austrian retail association estimates that every forth consumer will stick with their new digital consumer behavior for the foreseeable future.
Flashback to the start of the pandemic: when Covid first showed to be a global pandemic with global as local consequences, many retailers had to react in a rush to be able to keep selling their products and services without busy malls and pedestrian shopping streets. Within only a few weeks, eCommerce became the main sales channel, leaving the stationary trade far behind. eCommerce was no longer just a nice-to-have but indeed changed into the essential channel for survival. Digitalization specialists were in high demand and realized new online sales concepts for big and small companies in a hurry.
On the other hand, merchants leaning on eCommerce in their sales ecosystem celebrated an unexpected business boost, thanks to Covid. As silent winners, they even benefited from the pandemic and were able to acquire higher market shares.
This comparison should serve as a crucial learning experience for the future. To not be left behind, merchants must keep on investing in innovation. How to know which trends will stick around? What actions should merchants take? Here are four trends to reckon with:
1. Omnichannel retail
In an omnichannel strategy all available promotion and sales channels are utilised. Rather than looking at them separately, the merchant connects them into a coherent network, which increases client satisfaction as well as sales numbers. For instance, a customer’s positive experience visiting a festival or sporting event can lead to additional sales online or instore after the event. German sporting goods retailer SportScheck demonstrates how and why it works.
2. Instant payments
Together with the rising digitalization, customers and merchants have higher expectations for fast and smooth payments. While in the past, merchants sometimes had to wait for days to receive payment and be able to hand out products for shipping, now clients expect to receive their orders next day. Even same-day delivery is possible with the new instant payment possibilities.
3. Crypto currencies and digital assets as means of payment
With the shift in consumer groups to generations more familiar with digital payment methods, the demand for alternative forms of payment is also growing. Studies already show more and more consumers wish to pay with crypto currencies. So it is safe to say that digital currencies will play a role in the economy of today and tomorrow.
Pandemic and recent political upheavals have amplified these developments, as digital assets have become a source of funds. Consumers are actively seeking security in digital decentralized financial systems, and likewise aim to participate with those instruments in a market economy, which means retail payments. René Pomassl, CEO of crypto payment provider SALAMANTEX, comments: „The market future is evolving and we offer the best technology already now. Crypto payment options are seamlessly integrated into existing payment infrastructures so that consumers themselves can choose which assets they use to pay. Today we enable payments with crypto currencies. Tomorrow it could be digital currencies like the eEuro. Tokenized real estate is another rising means of payment that is gaining more and more traction around the globe. A scenario that still sounds like a scifi movie to some, will shortly become reality in the DACH region and beyond. “
Governments worldwide are currently preparing for this shift in two areas. On one hand, new regulations and laws are being issued to provide a legal framework for digital currencies and processes, giving the retail sector a completely new playing field. On the other hand, numerous political bodies have their own digital currencies under development, such as the eEuro by the Euroean Union. Once these new fiat-like digital currencies will enter the market, the payment behavior of consumers young and old will evolve drastically. Merchants need to be prepared for this change.
Payment expert Roland Toch, Chief Operating Officer at QENTA Payment CEE, highlights another reason for why digital means of payment need to be looked out for: “the globalization of retail advances daily. Merchants need to position themselves broadly so that they can also cater to the demand from non-European countries.” Auction house Tiberius in Austria experiences confirms: The clientele is changing. It’s now common to see Asian or South American customers purchase antiques and artworks with blockchain based assets. A crypto payment option was promptly introduced to satisfy demand in a sustainable future-oriented manner.
4. Soft POS
The customer is king. As such, merchants strive to provide the best possible experience to their customers. Thanks to the new soft POS solutions, the payment process at an external event functions as smoothly as in the store, in the show room, or even directly at the client’s home. Conventional Android devices can be transformed into payment terminals so that no additional hardware needs to be purchased.