Think about this.

We can now hail cabs, order food, pay for your food, instantly broadcast a live video to millions of people or stream millions of songs.

All from a device sitting in your pocket.

This was not possible 10 years before.

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Source: Larry Kim Twitter

Likewise, the technology in eCommerce has developed significantly.  Merchants now have an array of tools, channels and platforms at their disposal to build their online business.

In this post, we’ve outlined 7 things that we feel will have a huge impact on the eCommerce landscape and we’re excited to see where these technologies go to next!

1. Automated Customer Service Through Chatbots

Talking to a robot can feel impersonal and foreign.

Yet, chatbots are now being used in eCommerce to enhance the customer experience and provide unparalleled levels of personalised customer service round the clock.

It’s a surprisingly intimate form of communication with your customers, if used correctly.

Using a chatbot exposes your business to plenty of ready-to-buy customers. Did you know 47% of users are open to purchasing items through a bot? Furthermore, 71% of users are willing to receive customer service through a bot.

With a bot, you can interact with consumers where they are. According to a BI Intelligence report,consumers are more active on messaging apps – Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat or Viber compared to social networks since 2015.

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The benefits for businesses are many. Automated customer service work round the clock and reply to multiple service requests quickly.

They free up the time of customer service staff to focus on more complex tasks.

As HubSpot says:

“The ultimate mission of a bot is to provide a service people actually want to use. The best bots harness the micro-decisions consumers experience daily and see them as an opportunity to help.“

Our own usage of a Facebook Messenger bot has helped us engage our customers and deliver real-time parcel tracking updates for our customers around the world.

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Chatbots will revolutionise eCommerce customer experience and service. For customer service, it is projected that more than 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without the need for a human agent. Chatbots can also engage customers to support them through the research and decision-making process

2. Growth Of Subscription-Based eCommerce Models

First popularised by the beauty industry, subscription-based eCommerce models have grown in popularity. Led by startups like Dollar Shave Club, Birch Box and LootCrate, they are changing the way people buy consumer goods online.

A 2018 report by McKinsey shows 15% of online shoppers have signed up for one or more subscriptions to receive packages on a recurring basis. For younger, more affluent consumers, this provides a convenient, more affordable and personalised way of getting what they want.

Consumers use subscription-based models for 3 reasons.

  • Save time and money
  • Be surprised by product variety
  • Gain exclusive access

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Even established retailers are getting in on the subscription-based economy. P&G (Gillette on Demand), Sephora (Play!) and Walmart (Beauty Box). Even Unilever acquired startup Dollar Shave Club for USD 1 billion in 2016.

These are some of the latest moves by retailers to appeal to consumers who prioritise convenience above all.

3. Growth of Mobile ePayment Solutions

In the future, consumers won’t need to bring out their wallets to make payment anymore.

They use their phones.

Payment through Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled mobile devices, smartwatches, mobile apps and even blockchain technology is growing in popularity.

China especially, dominates in this area.

As of 2016, eWallets account for a 58% share of the mobile payment market in China, the highest number globally. Mobile payments are an integral part of the Chinese shopping experience. In comparison, this figure is a mere 15% in the US and 23% in the UK.

Consumers are going omnichannel. They can shop from anywhere – online, in-store or on-the-go from any connected device.

4. Selling Products Through Social Media

Social media is often thought of the medium to showcase and promote your products.

But it is also becoming the place to buy.

Twitter launched Product Pages in 2015. Facebook also allows you to add a Buy button to your branded page since 2014.

Now, Instagram – the most visual of the social media platforms announced you can shop through the app earlier this year. Retailers can now tag their photos with product information for shoppers can buy and checkout without leaving the app.

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Source: MamaMia

This development is not surprising. Consumers use social media for buying inspiration, look at new product ranges and browsing online catalogues. They also want to interact with brands in a way that is convenient to them.

Hence, brands need to meet them where they are.

5. The Involvement Of Robots In The Fulfilment And Delivery Process.

Collecting parcels from a drone may not sound like a scene from a science-fiction movie anymore.
A drone flying in the sunset sky with a city skyscape in the distance

In response to customer’s willingness to pay a premium for same-day delivery, Amazon has been recently granted a patent to develop delivery drones that can get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less.

These drones can even alter its flight path to avoid crashing, gather feedback on their delivery experience and abort deliveries when needed

On land, a Oregon-based robotics startup, Agility Robotics is building robots  to help delivery drivers deliver heavy packages to people’s doorsteps.

6. Rise In Voice Assistants And Voice Activated Search

Google Home, Amazon Echo, Alexa, Siri.

Homes are seeing more and more AI-driven home assistants.

Consumers can use these devices to remember things, check info or run a certain application. Instead of ordering items by clicking buttons on a screen, consumers will speak their order or make search queries through voice.

Research from BI Intelligence also shows younger people are more likely to prefer voice-activated search against traditional text-based search engines.

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In the future, traditional search engine optimisation efforts for your eCommerce shop may not be enough. We may need to also look at other mediums like voice-activated search.

7. Growth of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality To Enhance The Customer Experience

In the last 5 years, we have seen innovations like 3D printing, facial recognition software, voice search and wearable tech steadily becoming more popular.

Customer’s expectations of an outstanding customer experience are rising. They now look out for the retail stores that provide an exemplary customer experience .

With virtual and augmented reality, accessing the virtual world can be as simple as putting on a set of special glasses. VR and AR allows customers can experience the product from any angle. They have the freedom to interact with the products and store however they choose.

Sounds like something you’ll see on a movie?

Well, Australian retailer Myer has already partnered with eBay to launch the first ever VR department store as far back as 2016.

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Conclusion

It’s remarkable how the technology landscape has changed to keep pace with customer’s expectations on delivery, customer service and the customer experience. Are you looking forward to any other technological changes to come? Share them with us!

Joshua is responsible for Parcel Perform’s marketing efforts. He is passionate about technology, reading and continuous learning