How E-Commerce is Changing the Retail Space
Online retail is moving at a rapid pace and businesses must proactively think digital-first- both brick-to-click and click-to-brick. According to an eMarketer study, e-commerce sales are expected to exceed $27 trillion by the year 2020 -- needless to say, this is an immense market that businesses would be hard-pressed to pass up on.
Customer expectations and the ubiquity of the smart devices have driven the digitization & customization of the supply chain process at all touch points, including the shopping experience for all types of stores. The industry must evolve in order to refine their operations, allow for complex and variable purchase channels, and make sure that enough of the right products are delivered at the right time to the right person.
As such, businesses are working hard to bring innovation into the online retail universe. Those that lag behind risk losing their clientele.
Below, we’ve outlined a few key technologies that are currently reshaping the e-commerce space.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR devices and applications enable users to have 3D experiences by seeing virtual versions of products in real-world situations. Last year, IKEA launched an AR based app where users can see what certain decor items would look like in their homes. Allowing potential customers to visualize your products in their lives has proven to be a very effective sales tactic. According to IDC, global spending on AR/VR technologies will reach $17.8 billion, with retail and online retail showcasing to reach $950 million.
In order to have a greater impact on customers, businesses have started storefront digitizing, and merging physical with online fronts to offer an entirely new experience. Walmart, Delta, and eBay are just a few innovating in storefront digitization. Take for example the use of memory mirror. Memory mirror is a type of virtual technology in which a customer can visualize themselves with your products. In the same way that AR allows potential customers to see your products in their lives, digitized storefronts can help them see what products best suit them.
Chatbots & Conversational Sales
Chatbots and conversational sales have been, and will continue to be, a key area for spending in the e-commerce space. With Chatbot technology, users ask questions as they come to mind and are prompted towards making a purchase by simply speaking to digital assistants, which can be completely automated! Conversational sales tools nurture sales through a sense of personalized customer service and immediacy.
Seamless Omnichannel Experience
Today, there are a number of channels that can be used to reach customers: from brick-and-mortar, to websites, to mobile, to native apps, and more. Seamless omnichannel experiences tap into the idea that customers can be communicated with through various devices and at any point during the customer journey. Placing yourself in as many places along the journey can significantly contribute to the path to purchase and lead to increased conversion rates. While adapting the back-end supply chain to meet the omnichannel experience comes with serious complexities, companies need to implement integrations & solutions to stay ahead of the curve.
Direct Social Media Purchases
You may have already seen this on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Users on those platforms can now click the ‘buy now’ button directly from the site’s page and proceed for online payment. Integrating a seamless purchase option along with the act of scrolling through social feeds can boost your bottom line and open a new channel for revenue generation - beyond marketing campaigns and brand awareness.
Voice assistants and voice search will become more instrumental to the retail experience as the technology advances. Some companies are already reaping the benefits of voice devices. For example, you can ask Alexa (Amazon’s voice assistant) to place an order on Amazon. These devices are gaining popularity, in fact, Google sold 6 million at-home voice devices over this past holiday season.
We have yet to witness the true magnitude of impact that these new technologies will have on e-commerce and consumer spending overall. We can be sure that e-commerce is here to stay, and that customers will continue to make purchases online, in more ways than ever. Perhaps one day, a few well-timed thoughts might snag us a deal on the latest tech!
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