Posted by : Diana Middlebrook
Undeniably, internet has transformed our lives, from the way we imbibe knowledge/ information to how we buy things. There was a time when none of us could think of shopping our daily essentials, luxuries, electronics and anything else just by logging into an online site. But, then came an inescapable revolution in the internet space in the late 1990s, called eCommerce which turned the scenario of retail shopping upside down.Since then, it has been pacing at an unstoppable pace, creating new avenues for sellers and affluent opportunities for the startups. While it is crazy for us to think how far eCommerce development has evolved over a short period of time, to give an idea of its growth, success, and advancements, this blog post presents some of the over the top innovations towards which eCommerce is heading in the near future. The outset of big eCommerce sites like in eBay and Amazon surfaced the eCommerce technology to the whole world. Founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar once rightly stated, “I wanted to give the power of the market back to individuals”.The result was clear. There surfaced loads of online retail sites over the world empowering people to buy anything and everything, at anytime from anywhere with few clicks. Retail competition got intensified with even traditional businesses coming up with omnichannel business models, that is, the combination of a storefront and a robust online site. With prominent shares of giant retailers like eBay, Amazon or Alibaba, the worldwide market of eCommerce has been consistently expanding and is projected to reach revenues in trillions sooner.
While only time will show how far eCommerce sales will surge, one thing is certain that new innovations will be always coming either way in its space to make online shopping experience better, explicit and incredible. Even though the way people shop online underwent a radical transformation over the recent decade with personalisation, cashless/virtual payments, and social selling, there’s lot more awaiting. The next generation eCommerce is full of surprises and to be clear, any business which fails keep pace with this bandwagon in eCommerce will be restrained in terms growth.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) : The personalised shopping experiences of eCommerce will be soon powered by one of the latest revelations in technology, Artificial Intelligence. The technology if properly embraced by eCommerce businesses will empower the online shopping sites to suggest customers different products suited to their demands, styles and needs. It will enable them to browse through the site, its products and order one in a conversational manner, like the way do in real storefronts. With AI technology soon reaching a whole new frontier where people and businesses influenced by it through and out, there are many digital assistants emerging like Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant (in the Google Home) or Apple’s Siri to actually make people talk to machines. Thus, isn’t it inevitable that this will be thrusting its impact on eCommerce to humanise the shopping experience on the virtual market space? While online retail brands are advancing and modifying their sales channel to cater to the changing minds of the shoppers, AI will let them go one step ahead by exploding a distinct way for interaction between sellers and customers. With it, retail brands can reinforce a key contact centre through which they can fast answer the customer queries and make themselves capable of managing the spikes in transaction volumes through both machine and human intelligence.
Productive Automation : eCommerce will be undeniably influenced by a number of software technologies in the near future including automated conversion enhancers, predictive shopping, and many self-learning solutions. Thus, there are a lot of scopes for machine learning systems in the province of eCommerce, with the help of which online retailers can undergo dynamic automation of their processes. Going hand in hand with AI, machine learning will significantly ease off the tasks of eMerchants, which included handling of hundreds of thousands of customers data. eCommerce business intends to be more intuitive in future with machine learning along with AI as many internal software solutions will be erupting soon to help retailers in the handling of product data without the need for a management staff. Further, automation will be leaving its impact in every area in eCommerce. It will be fostering a so-called concept of automatic marketing by targeting and segmenting the customers automatically by analysing their purchase history, interests on social media and search interests. Also, the benefits of marketing automation are countless. From winning back customers who abandoned the carts to capturing customer leads and optimising transactions emails, all can be facilitated with automation approaches in eCommerce marketing.
Drone delivery system : While eCommerce is consistently pacing with newer innovations, retailers are brainstorming ideas to provide smoother and far advanced experience to their customers. Delivery processes and the time taken for it is the main pain point for most online retailers, as costs are huge which vary with locations and in the same line, customers expectations are rising as well. Retailers are already offering subtle delivery services including same-day delivery, easy returns, and local drop-offs, apart from free shipping. But,they are not stopping to innovate more agile and faster delivery to personalise the purchase experience and increase their order conversions rate. While drones delivery using UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) is still a faraway dream for eCommerce retailers but is certain to emerge as a spectacular advancement to benefit the whole industry. Drones will manipulate and enhance the delivery channels of retailers in all-way round with fastest and hassles free deliveries. So, there is no surprise in the fact that people will be soon needing launching pads in their houses’ backyard for letting the drones to deliver their products at the right time. While drone delivery is the recent buzzword in the eCommerce shipping frontier, big players like Google and Amazon are already draining out huge efforts on drone experimentation for commercial deliveries. Powerful merchants like Alibaba are too projected to adopt the technology sooner and will be operating their own individual drones fleet and no more needing the services of third-party delivery agents. Thus, arguably the most influential trend to come in eCommerce, drone-delivery system will be allowing super-speedy deliveries in the proximate areas with small and unmanned flyers. Needless to say, retailers will be unlocking the potentials for eCommerce business by allievating all the bottlenecks in their delivery schedules.
Augmented Reality : Augmented reality will also be shaping the future of eCommerce with retailers using the technology more to showcase their products to customers. While the gaming phenomenon named Pokemon Go took the entire globe by storm with AR, it is just the beginning. Predictably, the greatest impact of the technology is expected to be felt in the eCommerce when customers will be actually able to try out things. According to Alex Cleanthous,“AR is going to be the future of eCommerce and if you’re not using it, you’ll be left behind.” With it, the products are displayed as 3D projections on themselves or their environment in their mobile/desktop screens.It is a great ally for businesses in eCommerce that will amplify sales significantly by incorporating the human perception of the real stuff. By contextualising all the different individual elements which are observed in the real environment with virtual things, the technology makes them more meaningful. While one of the inherent roadblocks in the eCommerce shopping experience is that people can never get hold of the products they are buying or try them out like they do in a physical store, AR is going to alleviate all such blockades and friction in online shopping. Thus, certainty, augmented reality with AI is bound to take eCommerce to a next level by delivering extraordinary value to the potential shoppers.
IoT : With no signs of slowing down , there is room for plenty of innovations in eCommerce in the coming years and Internet of Things (popularly IoT) will be taking the sector to another edge of revolution. IoT if embraced fully will enable agile management of inventory by eCommerce retailers, like tracking the items coming or going out of the warehouse. With IoT sensors and use of RFID tags, merchants can embark on real-time inventory management by monitoring the new stock arrivals or exhaustion in prevailing stock and henceforth keep themselves well-updated about the warehouse situation.While this removes all the risks of wearing out of stocks, it removes the risks of losing of any potential customer. Besides, IoT will open up possibilities for eCommerce retailers to personalise recommendations and boost up their sales. By integrating mobiles or wearable devices with their store, they can propose different product suggestions and offers to the users based on their in-app behaviour. For, instance a eCommerce brand can communicate with a fitness app and subsequently recommend the user with a range of health drinks, sports equipment, or protein shakes or anything after evaluating his or her fitness habits. There are endless such possibilities in eCommerce under the influence of IoT. But more specifically, by integrating inventory, shipments and many other customer-centric aspects in eCommerce, it will result in much lesser human intervention or need for manpower in the sector, that translates to a greater boost in efficiency.
Chatbots : As the eCommerce market gradually turning into a hyper-competitive market space, restricting the growth of each player, it is essential for eCommerce businesses to think beyond the box. Loads of experts are agreeing on the concept of conversational eCommerce as a great way to augment the customer experience as it will be facilitating closer and real-time interaction of customers with the virtual shops. Utilisation of tools like Chatbots or live support will offer them an instant way to reach to merchants for product details, prices or any other queries. In the other way round, it will enable eCommerce retailers to ensure that buying behaviour and purchases information of customers are easy and quick to access. Thus, they will be closing more deals and more frequently with reduced cart abandonments unlike before when there was much lack of communication and information to the customers.
Final Takeaway : The surfacing of eCommerce brought up a whole new dimension in shopping where everything, from groceries to machines, can be ordered and bought over online with a click. As time progressed, online buying became even more widespread and convenient with series of technological advancements. But, there’s no barrier to innovations or technology. eCommerce has been undergoing radical changes since its evolution and intends to go through the same to provide exemplary user experiences. Amidst the tremendous expansion of the online commerce, these trends promise to make the upcoming years more exciting for the businesses and help them personalise the journey of their customer better with new technologies.