Customer experience is the area in which both offline and online retail business are focusing right now. In e-commerce users’ experience is obviously related to technology. We have talked before about technologies that are currently very well implemented. For example, we can offer a very well personalized experience to our customers by using cookies and remarketing options. But that’s not all. Technology is improving quickly. It is offering and will offer even more ways to give our beloved customers more value. In this article you can see some examples of what is going on in e-commerce related to technology
Let things order for you
Have you heard about The Internet of Things? Smartphones and tablets aren’t the only things connected to the Internet. Technology allows us to connect things such as cars, televisions and even fridges to the Internet. Do you wonder what the point is of having your fridge connected to the Internet? Easy. By doing so, you could order your groceries to the closest supermarket while checking your fridge. And going one step further, your fridge could place the order for you! If you don’t want it to make such a decision, it can just notify you when your provision of some specific products is running low. Something similar does Amazon Dash Button. With it, just by pressing a button you can order your favorite product. For instance, you can put it close to your toilet paper, detergent or your pet food and push it when the product is about to run out. There is no doubt it is a great tool to keep customer loyalty.
Follow your artificial intelligence personal shop assistant recommendations
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is growing fast. Soon it will be ready to personalize product recommendations, actually it is possible right now, but it is not generalized yet. For example, companies like Reflektion, Cortexica and Staqu are currently offering, the possibility to search similar products or even the product itself from an image. Other things that will be possible with AI are to adjust pricing and optimizing the allocation and product assortment. In addition, the chatbots are improving quickly and soon they will offer the best customer service at the cheapest price. True AI is currently offering a service in which AI gives the operators likely answers to give to a customer, so they give more value and in less time.
Thanks to AI, sooner or later you will be able to search a product similar to the one in a picture you introduce in a search engine with accurate results. For instances, ViSenze offers an app for this in the fashion sector. This way you won’t even need the name of the product to find it! You also will be able to speak to that search engine as if it was your friend and not a machine following keywords. And as it has learned a lot about you just from your interactions with it, it will answer your questions and provide real insight to the best purchase option for you.
Discover it with Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality will be an amazing way to look for new products to buy. It makes it more engaging than scrolling images and reading product descriptions. And in any case, you can also add those elements to the virtual reality experience. For instance, an online fashion business could offer a great experience just using Google Cardboards, Oculus or Samsung Gear and an app related to the store. This way the product recommendations are much more interesting and attractive. Because you will be able to see the products in three dimensions or even visit the store like with Avenue Imperial.
Try it with Augmented Reality
One of the biggest issues customers have with buying online is the inability to touch the products. Augmented reality may not solve this problem, but it comes close enough to answer questions like:
- What is the real size of this product?
- How would I look with it?
- Will this ornament fit with my carpet and curtains?
These and many other questions may stop someone from buying a product. Pictures are highly informative, and retailers are making better pictures every day, but they still lack the third dimension. And offline fashion stores can use it in their change rooms for things like underwear or swimsuits or other items that you can’t try on properly due to hygienic reasons. Not to mention the potential that it has for furniture as Ikea taught us. Though now is expensive and not generalized, Microsoft with Hololens and many other companies are working to make it affordable.
Augmented reality will be an important boost for trust when buying online and equally important, it will make buying online more entertaining. Lots of people like to go shopping with friends. For now, buying online doesn’t provide this kind of entertainment. However, with augmented reality, it will be almost like playing a video game. Actually, we recently saw how some malls and stores succeeded in bringing in customers by allowing them to hunt for Pokémon monsters for Pokémon Go. And this is just the beginning!
Or buy it in a virtual store
Do you dream of buying your groceries while commuting in the underground? This is possible in South Korea. The stores just need to show an image of their products on a screen that is in a wall and customers can order what they need by scanning the products with their smartphones.
Drones for a quick delivery
Amazon is already working on drones for delivery its packages. Actually, they already have a fancy name for it: Prime Air. Looking at the videos and explanations, one wonders how they will do it in downtown areas where there are no gardens to land the drone. But if they have managed to fly the packages, will the landing be a barrier for them? I guess it won’t.
For sure we will need some time to see this fully implemented, but we really think that even small retailers that work through big e-commerce platforms like Amazon, Alibaba and MercadoLibre will have the option to offer this service in the future.
Buy your own design with 3D printers
3D printers are currently on the market, but there is still room for a business selling the print services of your own design. Not everyone has room for such a machine at home, but with an internet connection, a provider can deliver your design in a matter of hours (if they also have drones for delivery, of course). The time in which you can create your own product has arrived.
Cryptocurrency for payments
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin aren’t popular among the greater public yet. For now they are more of a currency for speculators, but the seed is there and we can’t miss them in this article about the future of e-commerce. The biggest value of cryptocurrency is that they allow international exchange at a cheaper rate. Taking into consideration the great increase of overseas exchanges, we think cryptocurrencies still have something to say.
Or just pay with your mobile device
Another feature is already in the marketplace, but still not very generalized. People will be able to use their mobile devices as a kind of credit card. Actually, in some places you won’t even need to take it out of your pocket. Just leave the store and pay, avoiding those boring queues in busy sales periods.
Is there still room for human work in e-commerce?
If you are tempted to think that human work won’t be needed anymore, don’t be afraid of that. History has taught us that humans will be always needed to do more complicated things that machines still can’t manage. They are intelligent yes, but we still have the brain.
Summarizing, technology will make a great revolution in e-commerce. Not only in customer experience, providing the most personalized experience that has ever been possible, but also in managing areas, giving solutions for supplying, transporting and customer support. Even the smallest business will be able to introduce efficient processes that now are only possible in very big companies.
However, there are still some doubts to resolve. All these features have a strong link to privacy and there are some cultures in which people are not willing to share all their information with a machine.