The beginning of the 2020s ushered in a new era in commerce and retail. This was primarily a result of the Covid-19 pandemic forcing a change in consumer behavior more than it was an organic trend. It forced more people to embrace technology. ecommerce benefited greatly from this shift.
As large and small retailers designated more resources to improve the user experience and cybersecurity, eCommerce became a breeding ground for innovation. The following guide will explore some of the most mind-blowing innovations that exist in modern ecommerce.
1. Implementation of Chatbots
Chatbots are not a new technology. They date back to the 1960s. However, we can now use chatbots in more meaningful applications and use cases. This is largely due to recent strides made in artificial intelligence and natural language processing. It is now easier than ever to create and integrate a sophisticated chatbot through platforms such as Botnation. Thus, chatbot integration is more accessible to more outlets.
We can expect this feature to become more widespread as a host of studies have indicated that most Millennials and Gen Xers prefer to text instead of call. Of course, many businesses cannot afford to dedicate the manpower required to maintain consistent text correspondence with customers. Chatbots can help with customer queries or be used as marketing tools. Nevertheless, what is even more impressive about modern chatbot technology is how well it mimics human interaction. It is enough to induce an uncanny valley effect.
2. Shopping By Image (Google Lens Integration)
A large variety of ecommerce sites have implemented a “Shop the Look” feature. It allows you to select and purchase products from a picture (such as a screenshot from a popular TV show) by simply hovering and clicking on them.
However, this feature typically uses an overlay of some sort. Thus, the information and lookups are not dynamically generated. Deep Google Lens app integration allows sites to create dynamic item searches using user-supplied images. The technology is so advanced that users can search and find more information on images that they have taken using their cameras.
Once again, this technology is driven by AI, mainly Computer Vision. eCommerce services and stores need not even integrate this feature into their apps. All they need to do is ensure that your products show up on Google’s product listings (Shopping section on their SERPs).
The easiest way to do this is using the Google Merchant Center. Of course, your items will have to compete against other product listings. Thus, it is recommended that you utilize reviews online to elevate your listings. This will ensure that your products are some of the first results that Google Lens retrieves from queries.
3. VR and AR
Online shopping can often feel impersonal. Giving customers the ability to physically assess products is an advantage most brick-and-mortar shops still hold over online stores. However, one way to get around this is using the power of virtual and augmented reality.
As the hardware behind VR and AR becomes affordable, more consumers will naturally have access to it. We have seen big-time tech players such as Meta and Microsoft dedicate a large portion of their resources to gain a foothold in the future of the Metaverse.
As a side effect, it’s helped improve AR and VR technology. Online stores can now create entire virtual reality stores or scenarios that emulate the brick-and-mortar shopping experience. Customers can use augmented reality to see how outfits will look on them or how furniture will fit into rooms. Furthermore, they’re a great way to modernize your online shops and apps.
4. Voice Commerce
What makes ecommerce so appealing is because of its convenience and accessibility. It is innately more disability-friendly than traditional modes of shopping. However, online retailers can do more to make their services more accessible to those with disabilities.
Intelligent voice and virtual assistants can be extremely useful tools for both able-bodied and disabled individuals. Typically, the technology has been widely used to control smart homes and search for information online. You can play music, research the most affordable checking accounts for your online, create to-do lists, and so on.
Now you can use the very same technology to shop. Additionally, this feature can be paired with intelligent search functions where products are assigned a special ID or code. You can then use this code from a catalog to search for and purchase items using voice control. However, this doesn’t have to be the only option.
Users can specify the size, brand, etc. of the products they desire giving users more flexible options for how they shop online. Ecommerce vendors can integrate voice search and command functionality into their mobile applications. Thus, they need not directly rely on technology provided by Amazon, Google, etc. to facilitate voice commerce capabilities.
5. Innovative Payment Solutions
Cryptocurrency has been proven to be volatile. However, they still have the potential to become worthy alternatives to fiat or commercial money. Some online retailers have been understandably reluctant to include options to pay through crypto.
Nevertheless, Blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency, has proven to be a boon for secure payments and trade. It can be used to verify products, assist in supply chain management, function as part of a payment processor, and protect customers during transactions thanks to the aid of secure wallets for the storing and transferring of crypto.
Online retailers and merchants have also begun integrating eWallet features into their service ecosystems. eWallets are prepaid accounts that allow customers to safely make digital payments. Furthermore, they make payments and checkouts easier while protecting the merchant from fraud. They also have the potential to increase revenue by nurturing customer loyalty.
As online store design approaches such as one-step checkout become more commonplace, designers and merchants alike must be mindful of the implications on security. eWallets and Blockchain can provide possible solutions.
Most innovation in ecommerce can be owed to advancements made in AI and machine learning. Whether we’re talking about intelligent shipment solutions, customized marketing, or cybersecurity, artificial intelligence has a big hand in the future of these technologies. Thus, if you want to stay at the forefront of new developments in ecommerce, it is a good idea to track innovations in AI.