I still remember my first computer. I’d wait patiently and eagerly for my big, bulky desktop to connect to the internet while hearing it dialing up. It’s incredible to think that technology has advanced so rapidly that kids these days don’t even know about dial-ups or bulky computers.
It’s also amazing to think how much our purchasing behavior has changed throughout the years. We have become more impatient and practical. We want everything now, and we want it fast. Businesses are listening; that’s why we have programs like Amazon Now, InstaCart, or PostMates that make shopping simple.
Technology is helping us accomplish more with less time. Smart business owners have to keep up with these trends to make sure they stay competitive in the market. In this article, we’ve compiled the latest 5 technology trends impacting the eCommerce industry.
1. Voice Search and Its Impact on Shopping
Having good online rankings has been a priority for most eCommerce businesses for some time now. This is expected, considering that higher rankings drive more traffic, which, in turn, increases the chances of selling.
What happens when people no longer search online? The increasing trend of using voice search for everyday activities, from answering simple questions to shopping, prompts us to ask this question. If buyers can order products as simply as telling Alexa (Amazon’s voice recognition device) to buy “x” product, why would they bother to search online?
Will this new trend represent the death of organic search as we know it? Furthermore, the space for organic listings keeps getting reduced to make space for paid ads, which doesn’t help eCommerce SEO, either. Maybe, in the future, we’ll have to focus on “search voice optimization” rather than “search engine optimization”, who knows?
2. Chatbots Changing Conversational Commerce
Buyers don’t only want to get products fast, they also want a simple and personalized experience while ordering. Chatbots can help provide that experience. More and more companies are experimenting with chatbots, especially on Facebook Messenger. For example, you can order flowers from 1-800 Flowers with the help of their Facebook Messenger chatbot.
You may be thinking “these chatbots are way beyond my reach,” but think again. Easy to use chat builders such as ChatFuel are enabling small businesses to create chatbots without coding. Maybe this type of easy-to-use platforms will become what Shopify is today for websites. Maybe, in the future, having chatbots will be a “must-have” in your eCommerce tool box.
3. Robots to Automate Fulfillment
It’s no news that companies like Amazon have been using robots to fulfill their orders; however, these machines have been limited. They just transport a whole section of inventory to a human employee, who then manually picks up the products and places them in shipping boxes. The issue is that these robots are not good at recognizing and grabbing products, until now.
A company called Righthand is pioneering the invention of robots that can do just that. Just to give you an idea, previous robots were only able to fulfill 100 products per hour with an average error rate of about 18%; these robots can fulfill about 500 orders per hour!
Just imagine how these robots can revolutionize the industry. They don’t need to sleep or take breaks. They don’t need motivational words of encouragement or snacks in the break room. Many employees may find this technology job threatening, but there is still much time needed for improvement. In the meanwhile, we are still going to have to rely on human employees to supervise all orders and maintain a smooth operation.
4. Online Dash buttons
Amazon has recently released an online version of their Dash buttons. Similar to the physical Dash buttons formerly released, these virtual ones will allow customers to automatically order their usual list of products. This is another effort to make online shopping even easier.
As a small business owner, you can take this idea and implement it in a similar way. Maybe you can offer a personalized dashboard for your customers where they can find their usual purchases or favorites. Anything that helps customers buy faster and effortlessly is a step forward to a better customer experience.
5. Online to Offline Tracking of Purchases
If you own a brick and mortar store in addition to your eCommerce one, you’ll find this data interesting. Artificial intelligence and proper tracking are allowing us to track conversions a step further. When someone clicks on your ad, you are not only able to know if they made a purchase online, but you’re also able to track offline physical purchases.
Location optimization pro, David Shim, CEO of Placed, noted that 92 percent of retail transactions take place offline, but businesses only optimize for about eight percent of those. Understanding your customers’ shopping behavior will help you make smarter and more targeted advertising decisions.
We are only touching the surface of what we can accomplish with technology in the eCommerce world. It is an exciting but also a scary journey that is highly driven by customer’s preferences and behavior. They are the ones that make the demand for products and create their own rules.
What will come next? Maybe by the time the kids of our kids are old enough to become customers, the thought of clicking to make a purchase will be archaic. Just remember to stay flexible and keep on top of the latest trends. You don’t want to become the next Blockbuster that had a great business but didn’t adapt fast enough to the latest trends.