Technology has gone far and beyond from being just the foundation of e-Commerce industry; it is now powering the huge wave of changes happening in it. In the last decade itself, e-Commerce has seen heightened consumer interest and participation, leading to eMarketer estimating that sales will top $27 trillion in 2020.
But how profound is the influence of technology on e-Commerce? What are the areas that are most impacted? Let’s find out:
Transforming customer experiences with AR and VR
As stronger graphics-processing systems take user experiences to a newer level of ‘immersion’, the most significant impact felt is that of Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR). The traditional means of machine-human interaction is soon to go obsolete as a more natural experience and communication mechanism, powered by AR and VR, becomes increasingly popular – one that includes touch, taste, smell, visual and auditory sensations. With VR integration, shoppers can get a three-dimensional feel of the shop just by wearing VR headsets. They can discover items exactly like in a real shop, browse the specifications of each one displayed on screen, and make quick purchase decisions. An AR-integrated app can take the immersive experience one-step further. For instance – if a shopper likes a chair and wants to see how it will look in their room; they can simply pull up the camera against the spot of their room. The app will display a 3-D overlay of the chair against the background. Amazon has already integrated an AR shopping experience to their iOS app. eBay also and Myers have also teamed up to launch a virtual reality department store.
Understanding customers and improving service with Big Data
Big data analysis can facilitate better understanding of consumer behavior. Walmart uses it to make the company’s operations more efficient, especially in the areas of supply chain management, product assortment, store checkout, personalization of customer experience and more. An advanced behavioral analytics solution can help e-Commerce businesses get complete visibility into every step of customer journey and crack the ‘digital-shopper genome’ as McKinsey puts it. Critical insights gained from data analytics can equip organizations with necessary information to make definitive business decisions like finalizing a personalized marketing campaign, starting website redesign, launching a new product or expanding the business to a new region.
Driving personalization with Artificial Intelligence
Personalization is a prime necessity for e-Commerce firms. Fortunately, with the advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies, deeper levels of personalization can and are empowering fast-growing e-Commerce businesses further. AI-powered personalization takes the multi-channel approach. AI engines monitor multiple customer touch points to fetch insights that can help the firm analyze how their customers are interacting online, whether they are using a mobile application, the website, or an email campaign to browse their products. Through constant monitoring, the engines create a universal customer view, which enables the business to deliver a personalized customer experience across all platforms. For instance – when a shopper installs an e-Commerce app on an iPhone, a push notification can inform them about a flash sale for iPhone cases. With accurate targeting, this approach can increase the chances of a successful sale.
Simplifying shopping on-the-go with mobile commerce
Mobile commerce or M-Commerce is a natural progression of e-Commerce. The two are nearly identical with the major difference being that the former is focused on delivering customized convenience of shopping on-the-go via their smartphones. Unprecedented advancement in mobile technology has made smartphones the most popular buying medium for online shoppers, with a wide majority of first-time digital buyers to conduct monetary transactions via mobile devices. Apart from customer preference, e-Commerce businesses, especially those interested in omni-channel retail, are also going the mobile-first way for another vital reason – being visible in the app store enables them to extend their reach as well as get a branding advantage. Notably, in 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide reached $2.304 trillion, and in terms of total retail sales worldwide, M-Commerce is expected to accounted for 12.7%.
Increasing sellers’ convenience with ERP
Traditionally, e-Commerce industry has prioritized shoppers’ experience in terms of latest technological advancements. Not until recently has there been much emphasis on the advantage of the seller. With robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, brands are now focusing on instantaneous communication, information transfer, logistics processing and online networking. Sellers no longer need to micromanage each aspect of their business in order to ensure timely delivery of their products to the warehouse and then, the end-user. Instead, ERP-powered process integration can alleviate their stress by lessening involvement of human resources, eliminating delays resulting from human errors, improving internal productivity and reducing operational costs. Real-time availability of data about stocks and deal status can help to reduce overstocking and wastage, thereby reducing inventory costs significantly.
e-Commerce started as an almost nonexistent business model back in 1970s, but now is one of the most popular business practices. As newer technologies like VR, AR, Big Data, ERP, AI and more enable e-Commerce businesses to grow and thrive, it is only a matter of time before the industry expands in completely unprecedented ways.