How would you like to earn a portion of the four trillion dollars generated by e-commerce? Based on data from Statista Research, that’s how much revenue e-commerce merchants will be generating by 2020. Online merchants who understand the global potential of e-commerce (can you say mobile-enabled developing nations?), are poised to garner a slice of that four trillion dollar pie for themselves.
But to make the most of global e-commerce opportunities, merchants need to be aware of the significant changes influencing the online business sector. Technology is rapidly changing where online business is conducted. Failure to understand and take advantage of these changes will mean your ability to capitalise on this growth in the global e-commerce market is greatly reduced. I have identified 10 main factors that will dramatically influence the future of e-commerce and you need to make sure your business and marketing strategy recognises and takes action on these factors.
1. Voice Activated Interfaces and Voice Payments
Voice is going to play an increasingly important role in the future of e-commerce. As smart home devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home grow in popularity, it is a no brainer to expect more consumers to flock to voice-enabled shopping. E-commerce merchants updating their websites and apps to allow voice commerce will outshine competitors still relying on traditional keyboard data inputs. Voice-enabled payments will offer another opportunity for e-commerce merchants to stand out from competitors. With Google, Amazon, and Apple already making forays into voice payments, expect to see more disruption in the e-commerce sector as savvy merchants integrate voice payments into their growth strategies.
2. Shopping Bots and Digital Assistants
Speaking of Alexa and Google Home, e-commerce shoppers in the future will expect more interactions with conversational shopping bots and digital assistants. The technology already exists for e-commerce merchants to create their own artificial intelligence bots. Whether you use bot technology to help your customers choose the right product or opt for an image recognition assistant like Amazon’s Look, the key is to use technology to remove friction points for your customers. The more seamless and informed the shopping process is, the better the chances you’ll earn a brand ambassador and repeat customers for your company.
3. Augmented Reality E-Commerce Experiences
Augmented reality will play a major role in the future of e-commerce. Online retailers are already starting to use virtual fitting rooms to help consumers make purchasing decisions. As more e-commerce retailers discover the power of using augmented reality to improve the purchasing process, expect this technology to be utilised in numerous market verticals and have a variety of applications. Everything from visual overlays to smartphone-enabled artificial intelligence interactions will help consumers throughout their buying journey.
4. Data Inputs
Data will play a huge role in the future of e-commerce. The more data an e-commerce vendor has on their consumers, the better prepared they are to serve their needs. For example, data analytics can understand shopping patterns, and foot traffic analysis can predict seasonal sales. Download and usage data from merchant-specific mobile apps can also influence how e-commerce companies do business. The future of e-commerce is data fuelled and powerful. E-commerce merchants will be able to use everything from smartphone surveys to website forms to gather consumer data. When customers understand you’re asking for their shopping preferences to make their experience with your business better, they’re usually happy to assist you in personalising their experience.
5. Connected Smart Devices
Connected devices will also supply data points for tech-savvy e-commerce merchants. Data from connected devices like wearables can assist merchants in providing a superior shopping experience. Usage patterns, proximity, and even time-of-day shopping preferences can all help merchants offer an informed purchasing experience to their customers. Factor in additional data points like connected cars and smart technology appliances (refrigerators, televisions, etc.) and you have a cornucopia of digital data to improve e-commerce intelligence.
6. Personalised Shopping
As more data inputs become available, consumers will come to expect personalised shopping from their favourite e-commerce merchants. Gone are the days of generic click-to-buy interactions. Consumers will expect merchants to use their personal data to influence their shopping experience. From the products they’re offered to their shipping and payment preferences, e-merchants will need to step up their personalisation game if they hope to compete with big-name online merchants like Amazon. If you’re not already building an extensive database of customer information (be sure to encrypt), you should make it a top priority if you want to excel in your market sector.
7. Experiential Interactions
Tomorrow’s e-commerce consumer will expect their brand interactions to be experiences, not just transactions. E-commerce merchants will need to change the way they think about their branding and marketing if they hope to survive. Immersive marketing will be commonplace, as consumers look to merchants to create interactions that create connections and inspire brand loyalty. Just as major brands like Nike are opting for experiential marketing, so too will e-commerce merchants need to think outside the proverbial box to entice consumer spending.
8. Brand Innovation
Brand innovation will be a critical component as technology continues to transform the e-commerce landscape. It will no longer be enough to offer the same products as your competitors and hope to stand out. Brands will need to continually be looking to the future and discovering ways they can innovate and develop a reputation as an early mover and market leader. From the products you offer to the way you market your e-commerce business, a willingness and ability to innovate will be essential. Everything from 3D printing to crowdsourcing will impact the future of retail; e-commerce merchants who use this information will be able to innovate at a faster pace than their competitors.
9. Transaction-Enabled Video
While shop-ready visual marketing is already happening, expect transaction-enabled video to become a mainstream marketing opportunity for e-commerce merchants. As video becomes the media consumption option of choice for consumers, the ability to purchase directly from video will grow in popularity. From the clothing a celebrity wears in their music videos to the products an influencer showcases on their YouTube channel will all be click-enabled and ready for instant purchasing. Merchants using video commerce to increase their visual marketing ROI will outperform competitors who are relying on traditional marketing methods that are not click-enabled.
10. Brain Computer Interfaces
Although BCI (brain computer interface) technology might not be something you integrate into your online business in the near future, this technology is too powerful to overlook. Companies like Neurable (neurable.com) are already innovating in this area, allowing users to do everything from control game play to move toys. Even Facebook is pursuing BCI. When the world’s biggest social network is putting resources into brain computer interfaces, you know other companies will follow suit. Don’t be too surprised if BCI weaves its way into the e-commerce sector over the next decade.
The future of e-commerce has never been so intriguing or looked so bright. Although, technology is rapidly changing the way consumers interact with online businesses. The sooner merchants become aware of the changing e-commerce landscape, the sooner they can use their new knowledge to their advantage. How many of these 10 market changing factors have you integrated into your e-commerce business and marketing strategies?