E-COMMERCE TECHNOLOGY: TRENDS FOR 2019
The retail landscape is changing, new channels are emerging, and new technologies are routinely becoming standards – the online marketing space is in constant shift. IMAGES Business of Fashion put together the technological developments that are expected to trigger e-commerce trends in 2019…
The online fashion shopping experience is evolving faster than ever before. The uber modern, digitally empowered modern consumers expect seamless experiences across all touch points, compelling retailers to be on the cutting edge of technology. While technology has become an indispensable part of the retail template in entirety, its influence is more profound in the e-commerce domain.
Technology is the backbone of e-commerce.
Every passing year witnesses the advent of newer technologies that just keep pushing the envelope further. As of 2018, the online fashion retail sphere is replete with technical buzzwords like Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to name just a few.
As 2018 draws to a close, the fashion retail industry is anticipating new trends that technology will herald in the year to come. Prediction is a difficult art form, especially if it’s about the future, but after arduous research, IMAGES Business of Fashion has put together major trends that e-commerce gurus around the world assert will shape the e-commerce industry in 2019.
Thanks to AI and machine learning, personalization has become a retail reality. Although it’s still is at an adolescent stage, especially in India, more uptake of this innovation is expected in the year to come, especially considering the massive effect it has on intelligent customer service. It costs five times as
much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, so forging long-term personal relationships with customers is critical to any e-commerce retailer’s bottom line and future company health.
Chatbots are rapidly ameliorating the e-commerce experience and if experts are to be believed, chatbots will be an essential part of any fashion e-commerce set up in the years to come. A bespoke chatbot can efficiently drive engagement, sales, and better customer support and are touted as being efficient in ‘conversational commerce’.
According to a report by Hubspot, 48 percent of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other mean of contact. About 35 percent of consumers want to see more companies using chatbots according to Ubisend. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Sephora, Nordstrom, Everlane, Burberry and American Eagle are already experimenting with chatbots.
Smart Home Assistants & Voice Recognition Systems
A 2017 survey found that 41 percent of people who own devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home plan to purchase something with voice technology in the future. The English management consulting company OC&C Strategy Consultants estimates that by 2020, voice commerce will total $40 billion sales in the US alone.
While the trend of smart home assistants and voice recognition systems is still at a teething stage in India, the phenomenon of automatic speech recognition has caught on and the popularity and usage is expected to bolster by the next year. Experts believe that Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s Homepod will propel the industry forward, leaving e-commerce brands with the task of moving into those new channels with voice-savvy customer experiences.
SaaS E-Commerce Platforms
No on-premise system could ever guarantee the speed and stability that Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) e-commerce platforms are synonymous with. As a result, an increasing number of businesses are turning to SaaS apps and systems to run their operations. The biggest benefit of SaaS platforms is that the entire e-commerce system operates on the servers hosted by SaaS providers. E-commerce platforms on SaaS platforms do not have to install the software on-premise or maintain it — the third party provider shoulders the responsibility of the security, performance and maintenance of the application on their servers. According to American research, advisory and information technology firm Gartner, SaaS will reach the “plateau of productivity” in the next year or two.
ML and AI-Assisted E-Commerce
Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are becoming integral parts of many industries, and e-commerce is no different. AI based e-commerce is picking up in India, although slowly. It is expected that platforms powered by AI will assist in more targeted, personalized experiences and marketing campaigns which will drive sales online. These technologies allow businesses to provide a targeted shopping experience while reducing negative feedback. Experts assert that there will be a definite increase in utilization and improvement of AI and ML algorithms throughout 2019 and beyond.
Analytical platforms are an absolute must because metrics are everything when it comes to running an effective e-commerce business. Modern analytical platforms support a slew of functions in the e-commerce industry ranging from Supply Chain Management, Merchant/Customer Fraud Detection, Merchant Analytics, Recommender Systems, Product Specific Analytics, Online Marketing Analytics, User Experience Analytics, etc. Experts believe that Analytics platforms will undergo massive evolution in the years to come into a potential tool that can even help with improving product development, pricing, etc.
According to the statistic portal, Statista, the worldwide mobile payment revenue in 2015 was 450 billion U.S. dollars and is expected to surpass USD$ 1 trillion in 2019. E-commerce has seen a paradigm shift from desktop to mobile and an increasing number of people are shopping on the go. It is clear that a mobile-first strategy is the call of the hour for every e-commerce brand. Very soon, payment companies are expected to standardize the approach to payments by making the buying process simpler quicker and more secure. E-payments are the engine that drives e-commerce, so it’s essential that e-tailers have it tuned to perfection. Research have documented that fast payment methods can increase conversion by at least 20 percent.
The sole concept of blockchain is truly revolutionary, and it will almost certainly impact the e-commerce world in the years to come. The blockchain technology answers an exciting business opportunity in e-commerce with respect to transparency, reliability and cost reductions. It especially proves to be a good solution for those vendors who want to include transparency in their business transactions and to manage the consumer data reliably. It also helps to decrease the dependency on paper-based legacy systems and contains the crypto-transactions. So, if businesses want to stay significant for future customers, then they should start to explore the potential benefits of blockchain technology and e-commerce now only.
Advanced Product Filtering
Advance Product Filtering is the next standard in e-commerce as it allows consumers to find exactly what they need faster and with more options. Filter attributes such as size, colour, material, price, etc., help consumers narrow their search. With endless options across the web, it’s important to provide your customers with ways to filter products, so they don’t look elsewhere. There have been great advances in e-commerce search with companies such as Algoia, Celebros and InstaSearch+ using natural language processing and machine learning to show highly relevant search results.
While automation is slowly becoming a staple in most industries around the world, the e-commerce shopping experience has possibly the most to gain from automation. Automation involves a very broad range of technologies including robotics and expert systems, telemetry and communications, electrooptics, Cybersecurity, process measurement and control, sensors, wireless applications, systems integration, test measurement, and many more. The pronounced features of automation technology streamlines a number of processes, such as sales, marketing, inventory management, production and delivery services, thereby pushing customer satisfaction to the next level. There are plenty of platform agnostic e-commerce automation solutions out there such as Shopify Plus, Drip and Klaviyo, etc.
“The pronounced features of automation technology streamlines a number of processes, such as sales, marketing, inventory management, production and delivery services, thereby pushing customer satisfaction to the next level.”
Multi-channel attribution has emerged as an indispensable need as the lines blur between the digital and physical world. This refers to understanding a brand’s customer touch points and which marketing channels and campaigns are contributing the most towards driving visitors, and ultimately sales. For a beginner’s look into online attribution, Google Analytics offers attribution modelling to determine the relative value of different digital channels for conversions and ROI. For a more advanced look at attribution, you could use software like Bizible, or Looker. Discover which channels are causing blockers or driving conversions.
Augmented reality has already kicked in in the Indian fashion e-retail space and experts believe that its influence will only grow in the years to come. AR creates a sense of presence for objects that aren’t really there. As a result, products combined with Augmented Reality can influence the potential customers a lot more than pictures or videos. As compared to a normal e-commerce experience, AR integrated e-commerce experience offers enhanced customer engagement and the ability to modify and customize your selection.
Product Information Management
A Product Information Management (PIM) system’s most important task is to help a company manage large amounts of complex product information and distribute all of this information efficiently on the relevant channels. A PIM system makes it easy to create and maintain all of the types of product information, so that you can provide the purchaser with a full description of the product — its precise specifications, all of the necessary images and videos, relevant datasheet, etc.