“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”—Arthur C. Clarke
Who would’ve thought that we’ll be developing a form of technology so advanced it can replicate human consciousness and has the potential to become self-aware? Okay, well, we’re not there yet—but it’s so close it can be a bit overwhelming if not frightening. Thankfully, the world’s visionaries have found ways to trickle down these massive, bleeding-edge techs into something more applied and practical. Most importantly, technology benefitted the way we do business.
Technological developments have made a tremendous impact on the world of commerce, transforming the way consumers interact with businesses and empowering them to identify which brand fits their wants and their budget. When electronic commerce, commonly known as e-commerce, was introduced during the early 1980s, public reception was lukewarm at best. Not because the world hasn’t fully exploited the potential of the Internet, but because it defies the concept of shopping—weekends at the mall, lunch with the fam, you get it—that sort of mushy stuff that accompanies brick-and-mortar shopping. Ecommerce faced an opposition founded on family-based traditions, and it was almost wiped out until technology took over the steering wheel before the end of the 20th century.
Today, the Internet is a busy marketplace. Millions of customers are ordering online from electronic shopping platforms (ex. eCommerce websites) as the can get anything from undergarments to mattresses to coffees right at their doorsteps. And as the commercial landscape continues to evolve yearly, new opportunities for businesses are emerging.
For you to stay ahead of the curve, you must educate yourself about the latest technological trends in eCommerce, and how you can utilize them to your advantage.
Fathom CEO and founder Gareth Dunlop predicts that virtual assistants – chatbots – will be integrated to more than 25 percent of all customer support services by 2020.
Kelly Vaughn, founder of The Taproom Agency, supports Dunlop’s forecast, “Customers want prompt and accurate answers to their inquiries, and in busy times, eCommerce merchants are not always able to keep up with the rate of messages coming in. Thankfully, chatbots are getting smarter, and I expect to see this trend to continue upward.”
Neural networks allow tools like chatbots to get a better understanding of how humans interact with machines—in which case, what questions are being asked most frequently when customers shop online. Because AIs are modeled after the human brain, machines have ‘somehow’ developed the ability to parse customer data for deeper personalization of support experience to a specific customer.
“Advice is probably obvious here—if you haven’t tried using a chatbot on your online store, give one a test run,” says Kelly.
Ever played Pokémon Go or Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? These are popular mobile games, with the former being credited as the catalyst of the AR revolution. WeMakeWebsites co-founder and lead designer Piers Thorogood believes that the years of 2018, 2019, or 2020 will witness the explosion in popularity of augmented reality – way beyond its limited use to mobile games and apps.
"With tools like ‘Shopify AR powered by 3D Warehouse’ and a growing number of 3D modeling experts, it’s become extremely easy to integrate AR into eCommerce stores," Thorogood explains. He emphasized major advantages for both consumers and merchants. For the former, AR means a much richer shopping experience, getting to test out a product as if they already have it. As for the latter, this means higher conversion rates.
Ben Froedge, head of content and marketing at Shopify Plus, adds that AR is bridging the gap between the brick-and-mortar buying experience and ordering the product online.
He commented that being able to physically see the product in your home – where you want it to be placed – is a potential game-changer for shoppers. Now thousands of eCommerce businesses are combining hardware (smartphones) with applications (3D Warehouse) to integrate AR with shopping.
The face of eCommerce is changing. Technological revitalizations are helping every aspect of society realize the real potential of their respective causes. At the opposite extreme lies pessimistic headlines about the dangers of uncontrolled technological advancement – that our generation is not yet ready for such drastic change in the level of 1700s Industrial Revolution. But why the grim ideals? One way or another, we’ll have to arrive on the decision that will affect us all, for better or for worse.
Throughout this article, we have summed up the capabilities that technology can realize. Many successful e-commerce businesses invest in these technologies because it enables them to stay ahead of the curve, and to strategically heighten their success. To learn more about the latest trends in e-commerce and their practical applications to your business, we’re more than delighted to talk with you.