Report: data, AI and the IoT will dominate the future of Ecommerce

From all recent indications, the future of e-commerce will undergo vast changes in the coming years.  Brands and retailers who want to succeed in this new landscape will need to turn to technology — specifically AI and the IoT — to learn about their customers and, in turn, build deep and lasting consumer relationships, according to a recent report.

The report, carried out by Internet Retailing and PA Consulting, found that modern retail’s intense reliance on data will only deepen as more and more brands grow their own e-commerce presence and sell directly to consumers. And because of this, online retailers will no longer have the monopoly on data that they once enjoyed over brands.

The report, named “The direct-to-consumer challenge”, also found that the rise of AI and the IoT will drive this ever-increasing dependence on data to understand consumers as more everyday products and household items will progressively start gathering huge swaths of information and be able to perform menial functions like purchases to refill supplies.

And since the IoT will allow brands and e-commerce retailers to know how consumers are using their products, they will be able to better market to them as well as adopt new business strategies.

Another important shift in the future of e-commerce, the report says, will be a more consumer-focused retail strategy that leverages the data mentioned above and uses different retail models, like subscription services, that will inevitably challenge traditional retail.

Amazon is one such retailer that is preparing itself for the changing e-commerce world. The online retail giant has already made significant leeway into bringing the IoT into the mainstream with its products — a prominent example is its AI personal assistant Alexa. On top of this, Amazon’s other tech investments like its delivery drones as well as its Prime subscription service are making the company increasingly consumer-centric. All of these innovations have enabled Amazon to use its massive pool of data to build experiences centered around their consumers.

The key takeaway, the report says, is that in order for brands and retailers to prosper in the new e-commerce wilderness, they will need to “use the insights data brings to create new and imaginative kinds of offerings,” one’s centered on and personalized around the consumer.

“Building new kinds of experiences around the customer ultimately requires retailers and brands to look at what they do – and then be prepared to say they will do something else instead. Ironically enough, in Amazon’s case, that means opening stores. For another retailer, it may mean establishing a subscription-based o ering. Or for brands, it may mean establishing an ecommerce presence as preparation for selling direct via the IoT,” the report concluded.


Major trends that will drive retail: 

  • Rich consumer data
  • Brands will increasingly sell direct to consumers, blurring the lines between B2B and B2C
  • More devices and objects will be connected to the internet via the IoT
  • The rise of AI, machine learning and robotics will transform data analytics and process automation
  • New retail models, such as those based on subscription services, will challenge traditional retail
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