For many people, ecommerce is their go-to method of shopping. While brick-and-mortar outlets still have their place, consumers enjoy the convenience of being able to get online, order a product, and expect it to arrive on their doorsteps within a matter of days. The internet market is only growing, too: Southeast Asia, for instance, is the fastest growing online market in the world between 2015 and 2020, with 3.8 million new users from the region coming online each month (its internet economy also reached $50 billion in USD in 2017, which is 35 percent higher than previous expectations).
While ecommerce continues to grow, that does not mean there is no room for improvement. The processes involved still face challenges that affect everyone involved—but there are creative businesses that are working to revolutionize the virtual shopping landscape. CurrencyPay, for example, is a next-generation payments platform that could help your business move more stock during the holidays; it will also help you finance customer purchases and settle payments faster. Here are some of the other endeavors ecommerce vendors are pursuing:
Making the market more global
There are multiple ecommerce platforms out there. Amazon is undoubtedly the biggest, and you have doubtlessly heard of eBay, but other platforms cater to different areas of the world while still enabling global shipping. Alibaba dominates East Asia as the second largest market in the world with an online population of 1,072,076,950 people as of July 2018 and has a presence in 15 countries. The third largest platform is MercadoLibre, South America’s preferred market (it hosts an online population of 341,044,208 individuals). Businesses that are hoping to reach wider audiences simply need to take advantage of these channels and reach audiences their current platforms are not reaching.
Making delivery faster
What if instead of someone drive to your house—especially if you live in rural areas where there are few neighborhoods—a drone could fly your packages to your home? While this technology exists, it is not widespread—but the company Flytrex wants to bring drone delivery into mainstream practice.
Flytrex launched the first-ever autonomous drone delivery service in Iceland in 2017, reducing average delivery times for the online retailer AHA by more than 75 percent on particular items and saved 60 percent in delivery costs. The company’s drones can navigate urban spaces and cost as little as $.08 per mile.
Making the online shopping process more friendly
When you shop at a physical location, the employees can make a world of difference when it comes to your experience. Don’t you feel good about the purchase you just made when the cashier or customer service representative lets you know that the business appreciates you? This kind of interaction, however, is not always present when shopping online. It’s there when you need to communicate with business owners directly, but it’s easy for personal touches to escape from digital transactions.
However, one of the reasons why consumers prefer internet retail is because they don’t need to talk to a person. It’s quicker to simply click a few buttons, enter your credit card information, and expect your items to arrive. Is there a happy medium when you have questions about products or services, though? Yes—and it looks like chatbots.
Chatbots are different from chat boxes. Instead of connecting customers with live representatives, they are artificially intelligent “bots” that can answer questions and handle basic tasks, such as updating profiles or payment information. In 2017, Ubisend reported that 35 percent of surveyed consumers want more chatbots: 69 percent of them because they provide information immediately, and 21 percent believe bots are the easiest way to communicate with businesses. IBM Watson is a well-known chatbot provider, but companies like Aivo and Botsify are also leaders in creating bots capable of integrating with retail websites.
Changing how companies learn about their customers
Various ecommerce companies are also exploring artificially intelligent technology in further depth. Different AI applications can help marketers identify leads, understand customers’ online behavior, personalize shopping experiences, and more. While there are privacy concerns that need to be addressed about how much companies are able to know about consumers, AI—when used ethically—can also help make websites more efficient and combat online cart abandonment.
Artificial intelligence is also capable of enabling visual search. One of the benefits of in-person shopping is the ability to look at items up close and even try them out if it’s appropriate to do so. When shopping online, though, you need to depend on images and video to imagine what role a product would play in your life. Pinterest is now using AI with its Lens feature, which allows you to take a picture of something you see in real life to learn more about it online and place an order if you desire.
Ecommerce is popular, but there are companies and new technologies hoping to revolutionize it. How do you think the ecommerce space will change in the near future?