Five ecommerce trends that are hot right now

Online businesses are evolving – here are the latest ecommerce trends

Ecommerce is a highly dynamic industry, which, almost like a living thing, is adapting and changing as it grows. Here in South Africa, the rate of that growth is accelerating (a trend kickstarted by the pandemic, albeit from a relatively low base). Equally, there is still a great deal of room for growth – so it pays to watch these ecommerce trends.

As more and more South Africans start to shop online the ecommerce trends we are seeing and predicting are mirroring those already happening in more mature global markets. Here’s our guide to what’s happening now – and what’s coming.

Instant gratification

Online shoppers want the contents of their carts, and they want them now. Delivery timelines are coming under pressure from consumers who are ordering must-have items at the last minute, or who simply don’t want to wait. Three days has become next day, and will inevitably become same day (at least in major metro areas). This is also a reflection of the impact that grocery delivery services (such as Checkers Sixty60) have had.

Demand for same-day deliveries could open the door to ‘freemium’ models, whereby customers are charged a premium for an enhanced version of a service they would usually get for free. Instant gratification also explains the popularity of ecommerce as a means to purchase digital items that can be delivered immediately, such as vouchers, travel tickets, data top-ups and unlock codes for games.

AI in everything

The recent announcement that Apple iPhones will now incorporate Artificial Intelligence tools
highlights another of the most ecommerce trends: AI isn’t just coming, it’s here. In the context of ecommerce, this will manifest itself as even smarter algorithms, which online shoppers will experience as more accurate product recommendations, and improved search tools. By continuously learning and improving, ecommerce sites powered by AI will be able to tailor each user’s experience and interface, and serve up hyper-relevant content, leading to increased sales.

Knowing me, knowing you

The growth of AI will also – perhaps ironically – lead to more personalised ecommerce experiences for consumers. Online retailers are slowly coming round to the idea that it is shoppers who determine the keywords used in search, not the sellers themselves. Incorporating AI into smart search functions will help websites learn how people actually search (as humans, we make typos, misspell brand names, and use the wrong words for the right things). AI will figure this out, and serve us content on the things we’re actually looking for, rather than what we might have wanted to see.

Ecommerce, meet mcommerce

Online retail is going mobile – this is one of those ecommerce trends that has been happening for a while now, and isn’t going anywhere. Shoppers, on the other hand, are going everywhere – and they’re almost certain to have their phone with them. People nowadays do everything on their phones, and that includes shopping. Mcommerce – or mobile ecommerce – continues to grow at a very rapid pace. Given that smartphones are already the preferred device for online transactions, online sellers would do well to make their sites (and the user experience they offer) as mobile-friendly as possible.

It’s also not too much of a stretch to imagine a future where drones deliver ecommerce purchases to wherever the buyer happens to be at that moment.

Hybrid ecommerce – the best of both worlds

Conventional ecommerce is divided into two sectors: B2B and B2C selling. Expect the divisions between the two to blur and eventually disappear, however, with the growth of hybrid ecommerce. That is, a single site that does both. Humans wear multiple hats each day, and this will become one of the hottest ecommerce trends, too. It’s closely linked to the growth in omni-channel ecommerce – online shopping experiences that are available everywhere, all the time.

This naturally ties into the other ecommerce trends we’re enabling here at Bob Group: instant gratification, personalisation, and the introduction of AI to improve the UX.

To learn more about how you can pivot your ecommerce business to take advantage of these trends, visit – the home of everything ecommerce.