Emerging technologies can help drive online retail sales — Retail Technology Innovation Hub
New technologies have transformed e-commerce. Not only have they made businesses more efficient, but they have also enabled retailers to offer more tailored content to customers. Personalization is the order of the day.
Emerging technologies in e-commerce
While the basic concept has been around since the mid-1990s – thank you Jeff Bezos – e-commerce has not remained static. Through competition, companies are continually looking for ways to up their game and improve their customer service.
Retailers are leveraging all kinds of new technologies, including cloud and AI, to improve operations and the customer experience. They are also using innovations to better manage the omnichannel experience, which online shoppers increasingly expect.
Changes in consumption habits
According to a recent IBM report entitled “Consumers want it all“, e-commerce retailers face an uphill struggle.
While shoppers want companies to offer low prices and fast delivery, they also want sustainable packaging and ethical product sourcing. Most consumers don’t realize that these two sets of goals conflict with each other.
In 2022, e-commerce businesses are playing catch-up with their customers. As expectations soar and consumer demands grow ever more challenging, brands are turning to technology in desperation to achieve the impossible.
To counter declining attention spans, many e-commerce companies are getting into shoppertainment.
Instead of just showcasing products on their sites and hoping people will buy, these systems actually turn e-commerce stores into points of entertainment. Consumers want low prices and fun at the same time.
Although the idea seems strange, it is already being put into practice in many sectors. For example, augmented reality technology, for example, allows customers to play games in-store. Going to stores could be a great way to level up characters on Pokémon Go.
Today, retail is driven by a new wave of consumers who expect all businesses to provide the same level of service as Amazon. In addition, they increasingly expect to be able to interact thanks to new technologies.
For example, consumers are asking clothing stores to offer online AR and VR dressing rooms so that customers can check out products before buying them. They are also increasingly demanding genuine online loyalty programs.
Supply chain efficiency
We are also seeing the growth of technologies designed with supply chain efficiencies in mind, especially since the pandemic. What is happening here is partly a response to the pandemic, but it also reflects changes happening at a deep level.
Until recently, it was almost impossible for retailers to respond sensibly to sudden changes in consumer demand. There were only shortages – as was the case with hand sanitizer as the pandemic approached – or gluts.
However, with better built-in demand planning tools, that all changes. Distributors are now able to establish direct communication links with supply chain actors to coordinate responses.
As soon as stores detect an increase in demand for a certain product, the entire supply chain can spring into action to meet the need.
Given changing economic circumstances and consumer demand, many e-commerce businesses are becoming data collection experts in their own right or working with IT support businesses.
Retailers, for example, want to make sure they have enough supplies to meet all their customers’ needs during peak festival times.
For this reason, it’s essential that they harness the full power of the cloud, collecting data wherever it appears and then putting it to work. The companies that can better analyze their data are also the ones that are in the best position to increase their sales and increase their market share.
Mobile data is also a critical point in boosting online sales. With more and more people using their phones to buy products online, it’s never been more important for brands to optimize their mobile sites.
Of course, AI and Big Data are not left out. On the contrary, progress on the ground is rapid.
Every year, the software becomes more and more efficient. By the end of the 2020s, it is very likely that there will be bots that pass the Turing test.
For e-commerce businesses, such breakthroughs could have significant implications. Chatbots, for example, could communicate with customers about their needs and then direct them to products or services that might interest them.
AI could also improve the customer journey by improving interactions with brands. Instead of waiting to reach a human representative, bots could answer questions and provide solutions immediately.
If this all sounds futuristic, note that many of these developments have already taken place. Companies are already implementing chatbots that can manage customers and send them to the right processing agents.
During Covid-19, these technologies are becoming increasingly important. E-commerce retailers weren’t always able to get the staff they needed due to illness, so they turned to bots instead.
These intelligent algorithms then answered all their customers’ questions and only passed on the most intractable troubleshooting to the human agents.
AR and VR
For years, futurists have predicted the advent of augmented reality and virtual reality in the retail space. However, thanks to the pandemic, progress on this front is accelerating.
Technologies are used to enable people to have a full-fledged shopping experience without having to leave their homes.
AI-powered filters make dressing rooms very realistic, showing people how they will look wearing certain outfits or wearing makeup. They also help with home shopping.
Finally we see technology enables better personalization, the key to higher engagement, brand loyalty and sales. According to many commentators, consumers are much more likely to shop on sites that offer a tailored experience.
Personalization can be done in several ways. These include:
● Use username in products
● Allow user to choose product specifications
● Show only user products suitable for their income or demographic
● Show products that users are most likely to like, such as those with eco-tags
● Provide additional information on how to reuse or recycle the product