Merchants strive to make the online user experience as personalized as enjoyable as ever and for that, they need to use the most cutting-edge technologies. Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, RPA – all these are steadily becoming a common thing to see and use in the e-commerce industry.
The biggest tech trends that will impact the future of e-commerce will be closely related to saving the user’s time and making the purchase process easier. We have collected the top 5 most interesting trends below – scroll down to see how we will shop online in a couple of years.
1. AR for product discovery
Brick-and-mortar stores have one big advantage over online stores and it is the interaction with the products.
In physical stores, shoppers can touch the products and try them on, which is especially important for stores that sell footwear and clothes. To close this gap and make the online shopping experience more wholesome, more and more stores are now looking at the use of Augmented Reality technology.
The most popular example of using AR in e-commerce is a mobile app that lets the user “try the product on” with. Such apps are already used by a beauty brand Sephora and the worldwide known IKEA. As well, there is a new app called Wanna Kicks that lets the users try on sneakers by different brands and make a direct purchase by following a link in the app.
While brands only started exploring this opportunity, it’s already incredibly promising. Because users can see how the product looks on them or within their interior, this eliminates the fear of buying a cat in a sack.
2. Personal assistants and chatbots
There is no need to say how important personalization is. When presented with a personalized offer, shoppers are willing to wait, share their personal information, and come back to the store.
Virtual assistants are the next step in delivering the ultimate personal experience to the shoppers. These assistants are usually smart bots powered by machine learning technology. The bots are able to “learn” about one’s preferences and interests, add items to the cart, track the order status, and perform other mundane tasks for you. One of the most popular examples is the Facebook Messenger Bot that interacts with the user and performs certain tasks upon the request.
Clothing brands also use personal assistants to help the customers choose the best products just for them. In this case, a bot will analyze past purchases and interests to offer the most suitable option.
3. Drone delivery
This trend is quite controversial but is probably coming to the scene in the near future.
The thing is, drone delivery is not so new. Back in 2015, Amazon introduced Prime Air and there have already been a few experiments on short-range drone deliveries. But for now, all that just seems like a fun little thing to do. The question is: will drones become an integral part of the e-commerce customer service cycle?
One of the biggest concerns about drone delivery is the actual delivery process, or the “last 50 miles”, as some experts call it. Will the package be left unattended at your doorsteps? Or what if you have a dog in the yard? And don’t forget about the wind that may distort the drone’s navigation.
Another issue is the need for regulatory approval because you cannot have massive drones flying around. As well, merchants will have to consider the delivery distance, safety (of the package, drone, and receiver) and many other issues before taking the drone delivery to the assembly line.
4. Omnichannel buying
E-commerce is online buying and for modern users, online buying does not end on the desktop stores anymore.
People want to buy an item as soon as they see it (on condition they like it) so it’s the next big challenge for e-commerce: provide an omnichannel shopping experience. That means people should be able to buy from a physical store, desktop version, mobile version, social networks, and so on.
And this is quite a challenge for the store owners. They need to have an extremely good organization in order to set up the selling process right and provide a seamless and consistent user experience. Omnichannel buying is not only about using different channels to sell the products. It’s about creating a solid experience from the moment a customer lands on the page to the moment they open a follow-up email to find out more about the personalized offers and deals.
5. Voice search and shopping
Another trend that is expected to become popular with e-commerce is voice search and voice shopping. Though estimated to hit 40$ billion by 2020, people still hesitate to use this option while shopping.
Voice shopping is aimed at making the product discovery process faster and easier by using voice commands. Though the idea sounds good, there are certain concerns:
- Lack of visual confirmation of the order
- Support of different languages and accents
- Mistrust for the voice-powered shopping
All these may be the reasons why people are not actively using voice shopping yet, even though Amazon offers a ready Alexa Voice Shopping Assistant. This assistant is capable of adding and removing the items from the cart and notifying about the delivery. And to prevent accidental orders, Alexa will always ask you for order confirmation.
As for the voice search, it may be more popular. Voice search lets people immediately find the needed products and is a perfect fit for mobile e-commerce.
As said above, the technological transformation of e-commerce is aimed at helping the customers shop faster and easier. While some of the trends are still undergoing development, others can be confidently used and can serve as a base for further innovations.
However, your store should be ready for the upcoming changes and growth of traffic. Сheck whether your current e-commerce platform can handle the high load – otherwise, slow performance will drag the conversions down. It is especially important for Magento owners: since Magento 1 will soon not be supported, it’s about time you start planning how to migrate to Magento 2.
Bio: Irina Linnik – I am an e-commerce and digital marketing observer, currently contributing to Onilab – a Magento development company. My goal is to create informative and compelling content to help my readers navigate through the vast and ever-changing business environment. With over 5 years of experience in writing, I have helped numerous companies communicate their message across various channels.