If your business is operating in the eCommerce or omnichannel space, you’ve already embraced a technological revolution – but if you think the changes are over, think again. The next few years could see an avalanche of new specialized capabilities that will require that you keep evolving your brand. It will be up to you to decipher the true transformations from the developments that don’t apply to your audience, as some new developments will inevitably matter more than others.
The guiding star for your technology should be the same rubric that has guided you so far: Innovations that suit your customers’ preferences are the ones to gravitate toward. If you continue to provide customers with an ideal experience, you’ll gain an inherent competitive advantage. Considering that your rivals will likely pick up on new technology, avoiding new development could feel more like sliding backwards than staying in place.
First Things First: Going Mobile
Of course, jumping straight into future technology may backfire if you neglect to consider the present. Some retail technology trends are already here, and mobility is the top contender. Companies need to evolve in sync with their customers over the next few years as these shoppers’ interest in mobile access becomes a full-on preoccupation.
Saying that your company will have to offer a mobile-friendly site or app within the next few years is underselling the urgency of this transformation. You should probably be doing this now. It’s important that you tune your strategies to suit consumers’ interests and enable their preferences to take precedence.
Maybe flash sales explicitly targeting mobile users will expand the range of discounts you can offer. Perhaps there is a way to increase engagement via alerts on phones. These strategies and more are part of a future-focused transformation that you don’t need to wait to implement.
Making the Jump: Omnichannel AI
Are you crunching numbers on your eCommerce website? If you haven’t embraced analytics yet, there will be many chances over the next few years. In fact, the truly futuristic part of big data and artificial intelligence may be the use of these systems in person instead of online. Econsultancy noted that merchants are experimenting with using the same kind of granular data that has revolutionized web sales to change their in-person offerings as well.
Instead of changing what merchandise is physically available in stores, AI applications may involve guiding consumers through the store to find things that will interest them. This kind of preference data use is possible online because of careful collection and storage of information. Expanding this concept to help shoppers browse in the brick-and-mortar world will require consistent profiles. Fortunately, getting such a system in place is already one of the main goals of omnichannel retail. Live AI assistance may be closer than it seems.
Just Imagine: Voice-based Commerce
Could the human voice be the next great eCommerce tool? According to ZDNet, that’s what some industry thinkers are banking on. The idea of creating a customer-friendly interface and meeting customer needs is indisputable. So, if that means working with new interfaces and replacing clicks with natural language recognition, this may be the way to turn.
According to BigCommerce Chief Technology Officer Brian Dhatt, young people today are able to get a surprising amount of use out of voice assistance features in mobile operating systems. eCommerce leaning into voice recognition is not an initiative for the current generation of shoppers; instead, this process will be ideally suited to Generation Z, whose members will be productive shoppers in a few short years.
Three Steps Ahead
It pays to have some idea of where the eCommerce and omnichannel worlds are heading. Ending up behind the curve is an undesirable fate for any brand. The customers of tomorrow may let their loyalty slip if your business keeps its 2017 mindset past its expiration date.