E-commerce Trends that Will Make Everyone Take Notice
Advanced technology has revolutionised the way of doing business, and changed the face of commercial transactions all over the world. Electronic commerce or e-commerce is indeed here to stay as the prime medium of buying and selling of goods and services today. With internet connectivity becoming faster and more accessible to billions of people, online interaction between business and consumer is becoming easier and more preferable. A statistical titbit will help illustrate. From about 1.66 billion online customers using e-commerce in 2017, the numbers are set to grow rapidly to approximately 2.14 billion by 2021. A look at the latest trends that will make everyone take notice can be enlightening.
AI or artificial intelligence is finding application in many aspects of life today, and e-commerce is no exception. Even a year ago, virtual assistant and chatbots were merely concepts, but today they are fast becoming an integral part of the shopping experience. Why would someone need to spend time with inventory management when AI assistants can handle the task more efficiently and flawlessly? Again, take customer service such as enquiry handling from product discussion to complaints management. Chatbots are now employed for these activities, and AI is being used to learn from conversations and give a more satisfying and personalised assistance to the customers.
- B2B boom
E-commerce first visualised the concept of bringing interaction between businesses and customers in the B2C platform. However, with online sales projected, according to a study, to grow by more than triple from 1.3 trillion in 2014 to 4.5 trillion in 2021, e-commerce has long ceased to be restricted to B2C. A survey of the top B2B (business to business) companies has noted that online transactions are the preferred mode of doing business and a personalised interactive medium can better foster connection and business relation between suppliers. If the current projections are to be believed, then B2B e-commerce sales alone are set to touch a staggering 6.6 trillion by 2020.
The common thread that connects all trends of a flourishing e-commerce business is personalisation. In retail shopping, face to face interactions form an important experience for shoppers. While e-commerce has redefined and recreated shopping experience by making everything go online, customer engagement is still a vital cog. That’s why AI assistance and interactions are becoming so important. To personalise user experience, personal data such as webpage visits, online searches, previous purchases, etc are being monitored and analysed to gain insights into a customer’s interests and needs. Interesting to note that in an age where privacy is highly valued and guarded, people are still comfortable to impart their personal information and preferences to enhance the new-age shopping experience.
- Social media integration
Among other aspects of revolutionised e-commerce that one can expect in the coming days, the rising influence of social media deserves special mention. E-commerce always found brand promotion through social media convenient and rewarding. Online buyers can now delight in the introduction of the “Buy” button on Facebook and the Instagram Checkout functionality. E-commerce platforms like Shopify are also enabling businesses to link their online store via social media so that people can get an integrated experience of checking out newsfeed and online posts, and if they find something interesting, they can easily shop for it too.