2019 Will Be a Revolutionary Year for Online Shopping
Mobile, bots, artificial intelligence and augmented reality come together.
Online shopping is no longer just a fad, it’s a lifestyle. People everywhere are taking advantage of the convenience of ordering anything -- and I mean anything -- and having it delivered right to their doorstep. In order to capitalize on this shift in lifestyle, retailers have taken to the ecommerce world and are setting new norms for online businesses across the globe.
Ecommerce is continuing to get more and more competitive. With technology constantly evolving, so is the online shopping market. Websites are smarter, shipping is quicker, and expectations are higher. In order to keep up with the market, online stores have started to gravitate towards new trends.
Let’s take a look at that we’ll be seeing more and more of in the upcoming year.
People love experiences that are customized to their tastes and needs. Since there are no physical sales associates to make sure customers feel like their needs are being met, technology must replace human help.
This sense of personalization is being done in a variety of ways. An increasing number of companies are curating available options and pulling items from multiple sources. These companies analyze users’ purchase history and offer products that a customer is more likely to be interested in, all while getting rid of excessive, and most likely unnecessary, options.
To take online shopping personalization one step further, companies are starting to incorporate artificial intelligence and machine learning into the ecommerce experience.
Companies like Facenote, a facial recognition platform for customer identification, are trying to make customers feel more comfortable while shopping. Facenote uses advanced technology to help build a strong sense of loyalty between customers and brands. By recognizing consumers’ faces through a webcam, the rest of the shopping experience can be customized to match their past needs and purchases.
By definition, augmented reality (AR) is when technology is used to superimpose digital images and graphics into the existing environment. While people typically recognize this feature from video games, it can be used for online shopping, too.
Furniture companies, such as Magnolia Market, have figured out how to use AR to help customers visualize how furniture would look in their unique space. Their mobile app allows people to see Magnolia furniture through their camera in the space that they are furnishing. This unique feature makes the online shopping experience much more personalized and lets customers see how their furniture is going to look before they buy it.
As mentioned earlier, companies are working to replicate the physical, in-store sales assistance while shopping online. Chatbots represent a valuable resource for brands that want to make their users feel they’re being “physically” assisted while buying online.
Chatbots are mostly implemented with the intention of creating an instant communication between a customer and a company. Since online stores don’t have specific opening and closing hours, customers can be shopping at any time of day. Instead of hiring associates to sit behind a computer in case the customer has questions, technology has stepped in. Chatbots allow customer to ask questions and get answers nearly instantaneously.
Different chatbots can provide different services. Some answer questions, some make suggestions, some help with checkout, and some even help build outfits. A survey by Oracle found that 80 percent of brands plan to use chatbots by 2020, while a Ubisent study found that 35 percent of consumers want to see more companies using chatbots. Inevitably, they are becoming a crucial element of online shopping.
Recently, there have been rumors of Amazon considering of accepting cryptocurrency as payment method. This could shake up the entire ecommerce world completely. There are some blockchain projects that aim to deliver peer-to-peer commerce using a unique token, however, it takes a mainstream giant to set a new standard in the field.
Social media shopping.
One way in which mobile devices are being utilized for shopping is through social media. Facebook and Instagram have opened up the ecommerce marketplace and made it easier for users to shop through their social media platforms. Instagram, for example, has started to offer a feature for direct product links to be tagged in posts that even include product and price details.
Additionally, companies have taken to social media to advertise their brands and products. At this point, a company without a Facebook or Instagram account is, quite frankly, a step behind. People spend hours scrolling through their social media news feeds daily.
Even if a company isn’t directly paying for advertisements, their own accounts serve as an effective self promotion tool.
Another rising use of mobile commerce is automated checkout such as Paypal, Amazon Pay, or Apple Pay. Multiple online shopping sites have made it that much easier to order goods online. With features like Apple Pay, iPhone users only need to enter in their credit card information once. From there, the card number and address can be saved to their phone and stored for later use. If a website offers Apple Pay, all the user needs to do is click “OK” and the checkout process is complete. Easy.
Without the hassle of entering in information and long checkouts, online shopping is almost too easy. Users can see a great product on Instagram, click the link, and checkout with an automated payment process in under five minutes. By offering these features, companies are removing obstacles and making the shopping process a breeze.
With so many rising online shopping trends, retailers make it hard to resist. The online personalization of shopping ensures that shoppers are recognized and have options that best suit them, augmented reality allows shoppers to practically try out their new purchases, chatbots provide extra assistance, and stores are shifting over to social media and automated checkouts.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Writer