112 billion was generated in 2020 an increase of 8.5% over one year. The COVID-19 context has been a development factor for the e-commerce sector. There are many opportunities, but also many challenges, for companies offering online shopping services.
One of the challenges is the personalization of the customer experience. This is an important factor for the industry and covers the different expectations of online shoppers that need to be addressed:
- Environmental concerns.
- The impact of local production choices.
- The demand for agility in the purchasing process (selection of products and services, delivery, or after-sales assistance).
- Fluidity of purchasing channels.
- Security of transactions.
Whether they offer new possibilities for managing customer interactions, provide an immersive shopping experience. Or even enable the collection of essential customer experience data, new technologies are proving to be a major asset to consider in supporting companies in their strategy. How can their application meet the needs of the businesses concerned, while adapting to e-commerce trends?
In this article, we will explore 10 technology trends with benefits for the e-commerce industry.
1. Augmented reality: a technology for immersion
Popularised by fields such as video games for their immersive capabilities, i.e. the integration of virtual objects in a real environment. The principle of augmented reality has many applications in the field of e-commerce.
For several years now, the online fashion sector has provided examples of the use of augmented reality. Such as Zara’s Augmented Reality App. Other players from a variety of fields have also taken up this new technological tool: virtual interior design with the furniture of one’s choice, the immersive discovery of the origin of table wine. Or eyeglass frames to be tried on from the comfort of one’s own home, are all options for providing users with a tailor-made online shopping experience.
Some benefits of augmented reality:
- Stimulation of customer decision-making and engagement, through the possibility of a realistic and customizable visualization of a product.
- Development of this technology on mobile devices, is in line with the increasing use of smartphones in online sales.
2. Voice search: an asset for the product selection process
A technology based on artificial intelligence that enables voice recognition based on the analysis of users’ voices. Voice search has developed in parallel with the emergence of voice assistants. Such as Alexa or Google Assistant, with a potential global turnover estimated at 40 billion dollars by 2022.
Paving the way for the voice commerce trend, voice search applies to all stages of the purchasing process. From information search to product selection to transaction validation. In order to make the experience of its customers more fluid and personalized, Starbucks has equipped its application with a voice command to place orders. And retailers such as Carrefour have developed a voice shopping service that allows customers to compile their shopping list.
Some benefits of voice search:
- Simplification of the shopping process, allowing the customer to make purchases at any time of the day, while performing other tasks.
- Optimisation of the purchasing process time (especially during the identification process and filling in the order information).
3. Chatbots or virtual assistants: personalising customer interactions
Designed to interact directly with users, chatbots (or virtual assistants) are conversational agents used to handle certain customer interactions. They are used to answer the most frequently asked questions. But also to provide assistance to users throughout the purchasing process, directing them to the right source of information if necessary.
Initiatives such as SCNF’s Oui Bot reservation assistant, or BNP Paribas’ Telmi bot, which can inform customers or redirect them to an advisor if necessary, are all examples of how chatbots can be used to make the customer relations process more fluid.
Some advantages of chatbots :
- Multi-channel integration (website, mobile app, or messenger) and assistance for users before, during, and after the purchase.
- Automation of the most frequent requests, allowing teams to focus on high-value-added missions.
4. Image-based recognition: a solution for improving product selection
Based on the recognition of a product from a photograph, image recognition allows for the identification and immediate knowledge of the data related to the product in question. If a user does not know, for example, the references, brand, or range concerned, this technology simplifies his or her search and helps him or her to access the information needed to make a purchase decision. For example, the Adidas Originals iPhone application can use image recognition to indicate the trainer’s reference and availability from the nearest retailer.
While image recognition is a major asset in influencing the customer’s buying process by providing information about the desired product, it can be combined with other tools. For example, this technology can be combined with the suggestion of similar products if the item is not available. It can also be used to assess the reputation of products, by allowing companies to identify the various photographs of the item in question posted on the web.
Some of the benefits of image-based recognition :
- Simplifies instant product search and thus the purchase decision.
- Possibility of user feedback including images to preserve the brand image.
5. Data insights tools: a technology to help understand online shopping behavior
As part of business intelligence (BI) tools, data insights tools can help companies make strategic decisions. And are a technology that can answer crucial questions for companies. For example, which product is most sought after, how can a landing page impact conversion, and what are the main characteristics of customer behavior during the buying process,…
In the age of Big Data, the analysis and processing of data specific to each user’s journey is a key to improving processes. Whether they are related to shipping or delivery logistics, or to anticipating trends facing the company. Data Insights tools can facilitate this by collecting, organizing, and analyzing the data collected during the interaction between the customer and the online shopping platform.
Some benefits of data insights tools:
- Trend analysis to anticipate shoppers’ behaviour and identify their buying strategies.
- Identification of sales opportunities for cross-selling or up-selling.
6. Social selling: a method for optimising omnichannel selling
At a time when sales generated via social networks are on the rise, nearly 31% of French people have made a purchase via them. Social media selling is a solution for optimizing the personalization of the customer experience. This method offers a brand presence on the various social networks and thus diversifies the purchasing channel options.
By using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat as a sales lever or support, social selling not only integrates the possibility of interacting and advising the prospect during their online shopping experience. But also participates in the final conversion rates. Thanks to integrated sales functionalities and synchronization with the companies’ marketplace.
Some benefits of Social Selling :
- Creating potential new business opportunities through social selling.
- Supporting existing marketing operations and strengthening the company’s content and customer relations presence.
7. The API: a solution for optimizing the development of online sales tools
As the proliferation of communication and interface channels expands the options for the customer buying experience, managing these elements can be a challenge for businesses. Whether it is the need for application development, synchronization between different platforms. Or communication efficiency, the application programming interface (API) solution is a technology that can simplify these processes.
This IT solution can be seen as a bridge that allows different programs to interact. Thereby reducing the coding burden on developers and facilitating uniform communication between each system used by the company. From adding a Google map to a website to integrating certain Facebook features. For example, the API offers ways to simplify the processes of online shopping businesses.
Some benefits of the API:
- Unification of the customer experience across all of the company’s media and interfaces.
- Possibility of harvesting data from the communication and exchange of applications between them.
8. Video conferencing: a tool to facilitate customer support
Video conferencing is a communication technology using video and is known to the general public as well as to companies. Particularly for its meeting functions, whether individual or group and the various interactive solutions offered by the interfaces concerned. Encouraged by the context of the COVID-19 health crisis, the development of videoconferencing tools has various applications that can be integrated into an e-commerce strategy.
Among these applications is the use of videoconferencing for customer support. By offering personalized advice sessions, it is a means of enabling direct interaction between the company’s sales or after-sales services and the user. In addition to the different channels of chat, email, SMS, or social networks, video conferencing allows companies and customers to benefit from an optimized contact possibility.
Some benefits of video conferencing:
- Creation of a context to strengthen the relationship of trust and proximity with customers, while abolishing geographical constraints.
- Possibility to create dynamic sales processes thanks to screen and document sharing functionalities.
9. Click and Collect: a technology to reconcile online shopping and traditional sales channels
Also known as “check and reserve” or “click and pick up”, the Click and Collect principle allows the customer to make an online reservation of products available in physical shops. Based on the real-time stock of the shops, Click and Collect allows users, once they have made their selection, to choose the desired point of collection in the shop of their choice.
Mixing online and traditional retail channels, Click and Collect has enabled retailers to digitalize their sales process. That is a necessity in the context of the restrictions linked to the health crisis. For example, companies can use online sales software that allows the customer to consult the list of products online, with a Click and Collect option.
Some benefits of Click and Collect:
- Introduction to omnichannel sales for companies with a physical shop that want to start selling online.
- Immediate availability of products, if available, for customers.
10. Mobile integration: a solution for optimizing the customer experience on mobile devices
With a steadily increasing share of the online retail market, smartphone transactions highlight the importance of a mobile optimization strategy for businesses. Mobile integration (not to be confused with the API system) covers all the parameters required for online shopping websites to be fully operational on this type of sales channel.
This principle covers several factors such as :
- The responsive design of the online sales site, i.e. its adaptation to all screen sizes, including mobile screens, and its readability.
- Integration and synchronization of different applications and systems, for example with the help of multi-channel e-commerce software.
- The creation of an application, which is specially designed for mobile devices, with faster navigation and the possibility of sending notifications to users.
- A secure and diversified payment service.
Some benefits of mobile integration:
- Optimised UX for a personalised customer journey on the mobile sales channel.
- Ability to collect specific user information, such as geolocation.
Implementing these technological innovations can be a major competitive advantage for e-commerce companies. The adoption of the right tools, combined with a strategy focused on user practices, can be a growth driver for your business that should not be overlooked.
Powerlab is an innovative company that knows and masters these technologies. We can help you to better understand the issues related to their use. Just as we can help you develop your e-commerce internationally. So don’t be shy and contact us! We’d be happy to talk to you and provide you with solutions that meet your needs.
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