The concept of e-commerce was relatively unknown only a handful of years ago. While it was indeed recognised by those with a significant level of technical expertise, it went largely unnoticed until somewhat recently. Even then, e-commerce tended to represent a nebulous term that was intended to quantify all types of online transactions.
The good news is that times have changed. Larger businesses now fully appreciate the role that a trusted e-commerce platform will play in relation to their long-term success. Still, we should also note that this sector is evolving at a frenetic pace. What might we expect to see in the future and how will these transformations impact enterprises of all sizes?
The Important Role of Third-Party Asset Management
Most well-known businesses have already partnered with reputable e-commerce firms such as Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce. However, it is interesting to note that operational requirements are now becoming more segmented. For example, certain software packages have become extremely specified in order to effectively deal with point-of-sale (POS) systems. The same holds true for software licensing management.
Keeping abreast of software licensing is no easy task; especially for those who are overseeing larger organisations. This is why the tools found on this page have been engineered to provide cutting-edge solutions. Firms such as USU now provide stakeholders with second-to-none levels of insight when dealing with third-party licensing concerns.
Legal issues, EULA compliance and appreciating which software systems may require an update are three of the services which such bundles are able to provide. This highlights the simple fact that approaching e-commerce with a “one-size-fits-all” mindset is no longer relevant in this day and age.
The Rising Prevalence of Voice Searches
Most consumers and businesses alike are already aware of platforms such as the Amazon Alexa and the Apple Siri. These both signify an important shift in terms of the ways in which user-generated searches are being carried out. Not only does such a trend signify how technology is continuing to evolve, but it also highlights the fact that traditional search terms may no longer be as relevant.
As this article from Entrepreneur points out, more organic terminology that reflects everyday phrasing will likely be necessary, as users speak quite different than they type. Here are two contrasting examples:
- Where can I find the cheapest London hairdresser?
- Cheap London hairdresser.
As we can see, the first phrase mirrors the ways in which an individual would speak to another human being. The second represents the rather curt nature of textual searches. E-commerce specialists will therefore have to adapt their strategies accordingly in order to include more long-tail keywords and key phrases so that they can cater to voice-activated searches.
The Presence of Chatbots
Although chatbots have existed since the halcyon days of the Internet, they were decidedly clumsy and difficult to implement in the past. This limited their usefulness in relation to the average consumer. However, things are now beginning to change thanks to the role of artificial intelligence. AI is able to provide a more seamless and intuitive experience; mimicking human responses to a very real extent.
This presents an amazing opportunity for e-commerce specialists, as a greater degree of automation can be achieved. From answering basic queries to expediting the checkout process and even offering surveys, these bots are slated to revolutionise the overall end-user experience. E-commerce firms which are capable of adopting such technology should therefore enjoy higher levels of overall customer satisfaction.
AR in Relation to the Buying Process
It is first crucial to point out the differences between augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI). AI is primarily intended to solve issues that a client may have or to interpret vast amounts of data. AR is more concerned about providing customers with a tangible experience within the digital domain. Here are some instances of how AR can be leveraged by online businesses:
- Virtual tours of property for sale.
- 360-degree views of a product.
- The ability to change the style of a clothing item via a point-and-click interface.
Augmented reality will therefore have a significant impact upon the e-commerce community, as potential customers are now looking for a hands-on experience. This is why images that can be rotated and interactive infographics are more desirable than static pictures and long blocks of text alone (although there is still much to be said about quality content curation).
The Meteoric Rise of Mobile E-Commerce
It is currently expected that sales derived from smartphone interactions will exceed more than $432 billion dollars in 2022 (solely within the United States). Although this trend is certainly not surprising, it serves to highlight the ways in which consumers are now choosing to access the Internet. This is also why e-commerce experts need to place an even greater amount of focus upon such a burgeoning demographic.
We are not only referring to commonly known techniques such as mobile-responsive websites in this sense. Firms now need to offer a seamlessly integrated experience when marketing their products and services. Images that can be enlarged, long-scrolling text formats, few (if any) disruptive banner advertisements, and customised applications are only a handful of examples of the steps which can be taken.
When we then take into account the growing prevalence of 5G wireless communications, it only stands to reason that even more transactions will be occurring through the use of mobile devices. While it is still important to recognise the requirements of a static website, e-commerce specialists should devote a significant amount of time to addressing the remote community.
The Dawn of Transactions Powered by Cryptocurrencies
Many experts agree that the e-commerce community will begin to see the rise of cryptocurrencies in the near future. Indeed, variants such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are already being accepted by major e-wallets such as PayPal. There is every reason to believe that this interesting trend will continue to gain momentum.
There are several advantages associated with cryptocurrencies. Not only are these alternatives some of the most secure payment options, but they will not incur potentially hefty banking fees. This is why a growing number of POS systems have begun to include cryptocurrencies alongside more traditional methods such as wire transfers and credit cards.
Not only will this help to ensure that personal information is protected at all times, but it opens up lucrative opportunities to reach a much larger audience; particularly if an e-commerce firm is looking to expand. As always, employing POS templates monitored by the latest licence management solutions will help to ensure that the latest technology is leveraged.
Omnichannel E-Commerce Marketing
The phrase “adding another string to the bow” is perhaps the best way to succinctly describe omnichannel e-commerce marketing. It is a foregone conclusion that using multiple sales channels is the best way to resonate with an expanding audience. However, this is only part of the overall equation.
E-commerce specialists must find a careful balance between targeting the correct demographic and spreading their resources too thin. This is when the power of advanced analytics will come into play. It makes little sense to create advertisements across multiple sectors if it is impossible to track their performance. From an e-commerce perspective, the most efficient approach is to utilise the scope of third-party management systems (mentioned in the beginning of this article).
These observations are backed up by stark facts. Research has shown that nearly 85 per cent of all consumers will not decide to purchase a product or service unless they have seen it on multiple occasions. Omnichannel marketing is able to provide this type of repetition while also offering a greater degree of brand recognition.
Bespoke Levels of Customisation
All of the top e-commerce platforms are extremely malleable in nature. Their designers understand that every business will require slightly different tools and utilities. Thus, we are witnessing the birth of a more modular approach to sales and marketing campaigns. Not only will this trend become more pronounced in the years ahead, but it can also save businesses a significant amount of money.
Systems can be upsized or even downsized when necessary and redundant functions can be taken out of the loop. In the same respect, customised frameworks offer a much more user-friendly appeal; ideal when onboarding or in the event that the learning curve needs to be significantly reduced.
The Role of “Headless” Software
Some managers may have heard of the term “headless” being used when describing a specific software package. Headless is another way of illustrating that the front and back ends of an online store are governed by different systems. The main benefit with this approach is that portions of an e-commerce suite can be updated without having to perform a complete overhaul. Thus, less downtime will occur and ongoing operations are not likely to be adversely affected.
These are some of the most prominent trends which businesses can expect to witness in the coming years. Above all, eCommerce solutions are becoming even more complex than ever before. This is why working with trusted third-party platforms is absolutely essential.