By Smith Willas
A new wave of innovation is poised to disrupt the business yet again, especially the e-commerce sector. It’s opening up new channels and giving online businesses better ways to interact with customers. They are creating opportunities for new products, new markets, and new business dimensions. The rapid advancements in gadgets, internet access, bid data, and cutting-edge research are paving a way for a more interactive relationship between businesses and consumers. Thus the upcoming technological innovations are waiting to shape an astounding future of e-commerce.
Here is how e-commerce is going to be revolutionized by technology:
Personalized Customer Experience
To a large extent, the future of e-commerce will be dominated by customer experience (CX). Personalization is going to play a key role in terms of encouraging people to become loyal customers. Using personalization to reach audiences on any device creates multiple touch points and a more seamless customer experience. According to Hubspot, 76% of consumers say they view personalized experience as the true test of how much a company values them. As innovation continues to advance, retailers will be able to provide a highly tailored, individual experience to engage with and support their customers.
An excellent example of personalized CX is “contextual marketing”, which incorporates real-time customer targeting based on intent. It effectively infers the needs of consumers in the moment they interact with a particular brand. This approach is truly about providing the unique individual customer experience based on their timing and intent. With this greater immediacy and relevance, there will be a further increase in response rates, conversions, and sales.
For e-commerce companies, the design of their online storefront is one of the main components to get consumers’ attention. A good quality of website says a lot about the business, so making it attractive will be even more important in successful online sales and marketing. A well-designed website with personalized elements will be helpful in communicating the message efficiently to the target audience. It is essential for today’s online retailers to have a high quality custom software development approach in order to provide a unique customer experience.
The evolution of voice search and voice-activated devices will change the way people do their shopping online. Many experts believe that voice commerce represents the next major disruption in the retail industry. According to a recent report, between now and 2022, voice shopping will experience 1,900% growth. Today, digital assistants such as Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant have already made a lot of noise in the market. With further advancements in this technology, people will feel more comfortable using them.
Voice search is going to make online shopping much easier because it will curate recommendations and search results more easily according to individual needs. For example, a user is shopping for groceries. He can just tell Alexa about his special dietary requirements, and in response he will automatically get everything matching to his specific needs.
Voice search is great for repeat customers, too. They can simply tell their digital assistants to reorder the commodities that they had previously purchased. With the help of voice search, customers will also feel easier to leave reviews and ratings. They won’t have to login and type for doing that.
Internet of Things (IoT)
As estimated by Statista, the global retail e-commerce sales are expected to reach $4.88 trillion in 2021. This massive surge can be best explained in terms of exploding innovations that are laying a strong foundation for a huge e-commerce empire. Internet of Things (IoT) is an obvious catalyst of this trend. IoT is a network of distinct internet-enabled devices (physical), software and sensors that share data and exchange information between apps or users.IoT represents a paradigm shift that will help retail and e-commerce businesses to carry on their operations efficiently. According to a report, the retail investment on the Internet of Things is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2020. So how will IoT contribute to the e-commerce industry?
- Inventory management –IoT will make it a lot easier to keep track of inventory. With the help of IoT sensors and RFID tags, real-time inventory management will get a huge boost. They will improve the monitoring and tracking of inventory items, reducing human errors in reordering items.
- Logistic management – With the help of GPS and RFID, online store owners will get data like identity of the personnel involved, traffic conditions, location, weather etc. It will make logistic management extremely efficient.
- Supply chain management –IoTensures that goods move from one place to another smoothly. It enables tracking of goods right from the production stage to delivery.
Augmented reality has already stirred the gaming sector in a big way. Considering its enormous potential in the e-commerce sector, AR/VR has plenty of applications. This revolutionary technology superimposes digital information onto the physical environment, thereby opening great opportunities for better consumer experiences. AR provides an interactive virtual window shopping in a more engaging way so that shoppers can browse through various products as though they are present there.
When consumers interact with digital information superimposed on a physical object that they are aware of, a sense of ownership is built around that product. Thus, in experiencing augmented reality content, users find themselves to be a part of a story, built around that particular commodity. Today, shoppers are not fully confident in evaluating and envisioning the sense of using a product while shopping online. Augmented reality bridges this gap significantly by way of helping users visualize the products they’re considering to buy.
Artificial Intelligence and Smart Services
Artificial intelligence is profoundly impacting almost all the industries, and e-commerce is no exception. Intelligent, AI-driven algorithms can help personalize a consumer’s shopping experience by analyzing their past buying habits. E-commerce business owners can now get smart predictions of market trends through multiple channels, such as consumer data, social media data, surveys, and from financial institutions.
An excellent example of AI-driven smart service is chatbots. A chatbotis software technology that imitates real human interaction in a written or spoken way. With the help of this technology, e-retail owners can save their time and expenses by automating customer support in an e-commerce space 24/7. Today, consumers are more demanding and expecting lightning fast responses to their inquiries. So far it has been a challenge for e-commerce businesses to meet these demands in real-time. Chatbots, however, can go a long way in providing customers necessary information and other types of help.
Considered as one of the most disruptive technologies of the current era, blockchain can transform e-commerce landscape in a big way. In the simplest terms, Blockchain can be described as a data structure that holds transactional records and while ensuring security, transparency, and decentralization. In blockchain, transactions are digitally encrypted so that the data remains secure.
Cryptocurrencies that work on blockchain structure can be an alternate payment option for e-commerce settings. Payments and exchanges with fiat currencies are a bit longer and costlier option, which is why bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies are on the rise.Blockchain can also make shipping ‘smarter’ by providing encryption in deliveries, as well as technology to create a controlled environment.By adding smart contracts into the blockchain, the inventory can be managed and the items can be ordered automatically.
Drones and robots can play a key role in the expansion of e-commerce market in the coming years. Today, people need instant deliveries and what else than drones can make this possible. Currently, the global giants like Amazon and Alibaba, all are turning their interest in the usage of drones in business. With the advanced aerial technology used in drones, consumers can get their products quickly, that too at a lower cost. Amazon recently announced “Amazon Prime Air” – a delivery system designed to get packages into customer hands in less than half an hour. Thus, drones are going to skyrocket the customer satisfaction to the next level.
With the exponential advancements in technological trends, the face of e-commerce is going to be changed forever. There are more exciting innovations yet to come that will make e-commerce industry a more lucrative business. For now, the above mentioned technologies will make profound ripples in this sector.
Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media. You can follow him on Twitter.