The year 2020 has been a challenging year, but it ushered in a new era in e-commerce. In April of 2020, online sales grew 146% year over year.
While COVID-19 was a significant factor in this, the growth in e-commerce should outlast the pandemic, and text analytics tools, fraud detection, and sustainability will be the trends in conversation in 2021. Read on for more detail on the three emerging e-commerce trends for 2021
Text analytics is the companion piece to data analytics, but rather than dealing with mainly numerical metrics. It interprets sentiment from texts. The purpose of text analytics is to glean consumer attitudes, opinions, and criticisms about brands from user-generated texts. These may include social media posts, reviews, and scripts from customer service chats.
Sentiment analysis has been the dominant feature in text analytics. This involves interpreting the emotional tone of a passage, rating it as negative, positive, or in-between. Depending on the sophistication of sentiment analysis tools, the rating can be more nuanced, and machine learning enables the app or software to pick up on connotations and context.
NLP or Natural Language Processing is how sentiment analysis tools interpret a text. Tools learn NLP through rules or learning models. The latter is a quicker, more efficient way to “teach” NLP. In 2021, new developments in NLP learning are expected. Text analytics tools will learn new terms and parts of speech through a combination of supervised and unsupervised learning.
Also, models that teach NLP will use reinforcement models rather than instructing the models from scratch. RNN or Recurrent Neural Networks will make text classification easier. NLP and text analytics in 2021 will enhance product recommendations, understand semantics and subtleties of speech, use more focused sentiment analysis on social media, and will enable automated assistance to communicate more effectively.
The rise in e-commerce has been good news for online businesses and those who prefer to shop online. Unfortunately, it has also been a welcome development for fraudsters. A chargeback is a common type of fraud. It can either be accidental or “friendly fraud” or intentional. A customer calls a bank and claims to have fraudulent charges on their card. The bank may not verify this information and charge the retailer back. This can represent a substantial loss of revenue, and chargebacks are responsible for 40-80% of all fraud losses.
Credential stuffing involves fraudsters trying to take over accounts by, on a massive scale, pretending they forgot their login info and asking for new information if they have at least one of a username or password pair. Potluck Stuffing occurs when many people stream from one account, and the result is lost revenue.
This scamming behavior is also the traditional account hacking and infecting of computers and devices with malware and viruses. These infections are used to steal information and can cause severe damage to a device, which can cost a significant amount to repair.
In 2021, advances in fraud protection will take the form of adding layers to the safety and improving the efficiency of notification technology that will let the owner know of a suspicious activity or if a password has been compromised. Machine learning will inform AI tools of patterns that seem problematic and will make it easier to raise the alarm on apparent intruders.
Fraud prevention solutions in 2021 will provide control and monitoring depending on risk at every phase of customer interaction on the channel. Integration of advanced tools that bolster monitoring will be improved. Security solutions will add layers of protection and will be scalable to keep business payments secure as sales increase.
Upgraded technology will make address verification more efficient and will provide regular monitoring of customer accounts. There may be a demand for stronger passwords, suggestions to change them more often, and efficient alerts to upgrade anti-virus and anti-malware software.
The concern about sustainability, including global climate change and the reduction of waste, is not just things to worry about, but they increasingly drive customer decisions, particularly millennials. According to Global Web Index, 61% of consumers say they are more likely to switch to a more environmentally friendly product. This applies not only to the product but recycled or biodegradable packaging. Also, a Deloitte UK survey said 80% of customers said they would be willing to buy a product that raised its prices to be more environmentally friendly.
The decision whether to be environmentally friendly or be competitive will be less of a difficulty than it was 20 years ago. Companies should now introduce sustainable materials and packaging if they want to be competitive, especially with younger consumers who pay attention to recycling and the carbon footprint.
A robust year for e-commerce
If 2020 is anything to go on, 2021 will continue to be a robust year for e-commerce. Whether economies recover or continue to be stalled, consumers will go online to find competitive prices. Even as the COVID vaccine becomes widespread and people return to the shopping malls, habits developed during the pandemic are likely to last. One of these habits included shopping online.
In 2021, the trends in e-commerce will be innovations in text analytics and NLP to make sentiment analysis more efficient and refine machine learning. Technology to combat online fraud will be upgraded, and businesses will focus more on sustainability as younger consumers demand greener products and practices.
Efrat Vulfsons is the Co-Founder of PR Soprano and a data-driven marketing enthusiast, parallel to her soprano opera singing career. Efrat holds a B.F.A from the Jerusalem Music Academy in Opera Performance.