Despite the recession, last year was a banner year for e-commerce. U.S. e-retail sales jumped 9.8% in 2010 from 2009, totaling $142.491 billion worth of merchandise, according to Web measuring company comScore.
The company predicts that e-commerce will have "sustained double-digit growth rates in 2011." To get more and more Americans to by clicks, here are five trends experts say they see in the near future.1. They Come to You
It used to be that when you wanted to buy something online, you had to click on the company's website. No longer. Businesses today are capitalizing on our obsession with social media sites and smartphones. As a result, they are making it easier to shop wherever we are, Imran Jooma, president of eCommerce at Sears Holdings Corp told WalletPop in a telephone interview.
Sears Holding's mygofer.com, for example, not only has a mobile shopping app, it also has a Facebook page where you can start shopping without ever leaving Facebook.
2. Turning Online Shopping Into a Social Event
It's not exactly like hitting the mall with some friends, but some e-commerce sites are using your friends' preferences to help you make better purchasing decisions. Amazon, for example, helps you find records and books by the artists and authors your friends have listed in the Facebook profile.
"What Amazon has done that is so smart is rather than putting all its eggs in Facebook.com, it integrated Facebook's social features into its own website," Eric Schwartzman, digital strategist and co-author of Social Marketing to the Business Customer, explained to WalletPop in a telephone interview. "Since Amazon controls the interface on its own site, the company's in a stronger position to leverage social networking to drive e-commerce transactions."
3. Shopping in Real Time
Thanks to the explosive growth of real-time platforms like Twitter and Facebook, shopping can also happen in real-time. "This means evolving from being static directories of products to sharing live information on purchasing trends and patterns, price changes and the actions of other users," Tom Smith, founder of the GlobalWebindex and an expert in consumer Internet and social media trends, explained to WalletPop in an email. "Ultimately, it means allowing users to shop together in a real-time way."
4. One-Stop Shopping
Large retailers like Sears Holding are creating partnerships and programs so you're not tempted to click away. With mygofer.com, you can buy everything from groceries to electronics and have it delivered to your doorstep or schedule an in-store pick-up. Sears Holding's mygofer.com, which offers both types of delivery services, is available in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Miami since last year.
Amazon's iPhone app allows you to scan a bar code or take a photo of a product you saw while window shopping and hours later, at your convenience, you can purchase that item with just one click.
5. Easier Check-Outs
Smith predicts that near field communication (NFC) devices that integrate payment with your smartphone will hit the U.S. "with the upcoming iPhone5 and has grown in popularity in Asia for years. In markets where the technology allows, such as in South Korea, 12% of mobile users are doing so on a monthly basis." So leave the credit card or debit card at home; your smartphone will pay the bills.
Five Hot Consumer E-Commerce Trends for 2011