Retail eCommerce growth is increasing at a rapid paste. Global eCommerce sales are expected to reach the $4 trillion mark in 2020 according to recent online studies. When comparing it to the estimated total global retail spending for 2020 of $27 trillion, that will mean that retail eCommerce spending will be approximately 14.6% of global retail spending. That is astonishing just thinking about it. Mmm...does that mean that traditional Brick and mortar business will close their doors?, ... we will chat about it in another post.
What I would like to cover in this post are the exciting technology innovations which are maturing rapidly and will definitely be threatening to disrupt eCommerce in 2018.
So let's get ready.
1. Integration of AI and Machine Learning
1.1. Customer-Centric Searching
By leveraging machine learning, AI software automatically tags, organizes visual searched content by labelling features of the digital content. This enables what is called customer-centric searching, or essentially the ability for e-commerce search engines to think the way humans do. Have a look at Wiggle (video below), and be amazed. No more senseless search results. The obvious result here is that if a customer is presented with the product they can relate to, they are more likely to opt-in.
AI enables shoppers to discover complementary products whether it is size, colour, shape, fabric or even brand. The visual capabilities of such software are truly outstanding. By first obtaining visual cues from the uploaded imagery, the software can successfully assist the customer in finding the product they desire.
1.2. Conversational Commerce(a.k.a chatbots)
By definition, a chatbot is a specific computer program that is designed to simulate a conversation with human users over the Internet.
Chatbots can actively take on some of the important responsibilities that come with running an online business, particularly when it comes to executing tasks for operations and marketing. Chatbots can automate order processes and are an effective and low-cost way of providing customer service.
Consumer needs are rapidly evolving to the point that retailers struggle to keep up. If brands wish to survive then this is one of the priority business strategies that must be executed. The use of artificial intelligence through the application of ‘chatbots’ is just one way to drive the conversation in this next era of conversational commerce.
1.3 Automized Personalised Marketing
Imagine a world where you spend less time deploying marketing campaigns and more time connecting with your audience. Instead of treating all your clients the same, rather understand and communicate with your customers on an individual level, at any scale.
Leveraging AI-powered insights, you have the advantage of understanding each customer at an individual level. This enables you to act on that understanding, automatically and in real-time. Instead of expecting your customers to tell you what they want, if you track and monitor their online actions and behaviours, you have a much more infinitive idea what they really one. By analysing this large amount of data in real time, you can be more predictive in what to offer your clients.
2. Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality
Augmented Reality shows a computer-generated sensory in a real world. For example, in Pokemon Go you could see Pokemon graphics on your phone that has been placed on top of real-world visuals. When it comes to buying, that opens a whole new array of options. Having a 99% true view of how a new chair or curtain will fit into your home design, helps you make a more educated purchase.
3. Voice Search Everywhere
Adoption of smart home appliances such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home units has been a major driver of voice search, particularly in the eCommerce space. A recent analysis deduced that about 40% of millennials are already bumping into a voice-assisted research, whenever they want to shop something. Thus, it is substantiated to be a compelling factor that will influence the eCommerce sectors.
The sad truth is that the keyboard/mouse will slowly phase out, while the voice purchases are making its way to a greater prominence.
4. The Increase of Mobility Usage
With the advent of advanced technologies, almost every person owns a smartphone or tablet. People predominantly initiate online research, related to shopping and even make purchases through these gadgets, rather than from desktops/laptops.
UI/UX design has been improved a lot so far, we can expect to run through new updates with composite enhancements. This will greatly cut down the visual annoyance, inscribing responsive layouts. Owing to it, we’ll have to:
- Heighten mobile-responsive design, as mobile devices are becoming the primary source for product research and purchase.
- Exhibit a clutter-free and SEO-friendly user interface with pertinent videos, animations, sidebars, and real-time photographs, to grab the customers’ attention.
- Provide navigation links to compare products with the competitors’, to enunciate competence.
5. The Rise of ROPO
ROPO – Research Online, Purchase Offline – has been an observable consumer shopping habit for some time, driven largely by thrifty shoppers and eagle-eyed bargain hunters looking for the best possible deal. ROPO isn’t just the natural evolution of thrifty shopping in today’s digital world – it’s the culmination of the last 15 years of online shopping technology. Consumers like to research products online before making offline purchases because it empowers them to find the products they want at the best possible price, but to retailers, ROPO represents offline conversion tracking at its most effective.
Modern-day consumers have increasingly more technology at their fingertips. This means they are more able to obtain the details they want to make an informed purchase decision. Customers prefer to seek out online reviews and more in-depth product information to “back up” their purchases. This is especially true of goods with higher price points. eCommerce businesses are likely to see growth in cart abandonment rate, especially for high-value products or first-time purchases. This is often because consumers are going through the initial research phase of the buying cycle.
Gone are the days of measuring your digital efforts in terms of e-commerce purchases alone. To truly measure your success you need a more integrated approach to both online and offline experiences and how the former drives the latter. This has been commonly referred to as an “omnichannel” experience for shoppers who prefer a mix of digital and tangible information to drive their purchasing behaviour.
2018 are going to be an exciting year for eCommerce. If you are thinking of starting an online business, your timing couldn't be better.