The wave of digital transformation has impacted every industry, including digital commerce. Large retailers, manufacturers, and wholesalers are able to reach more customers by selling online.
When the first products were sold online in 1990s, the sellers took care of only transaction. That has changed over the time. They have started to focus on improving order fulfilment, customer satisfaction, loyalty, etc.
Today, the digital commerce is evolving to become more interactive, visual and intelligent. Retailers have started to provide several features like inventory visibility, product reviews, and package tracking.
This industry is going to be transformed further because of innovations in technology, business models, and customer experience.
By 2022, at least 5% of online orders will be predicted and initiated by artificial intelligence, according to Gartner. AI will impact digital commerce the most in next few years.
“It’s worth remembering the old maxim ‘a picture paints a thousand words’,” says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner.
“Conversational interfaces make the shopping experience more intuitive, but incorporating images, video and immersive technologies like augmented reality are more powerful techniques for engaging and converting customers.”
Top digital commerce trends
1. Thing commerce
Thing commerce is enabled by internet of things. Smart things like home appliances can make purchases on behalf of customers, according to rules, context and preferences.
This digital commerce trend will create new interactive channels and business opportunities. It will reduce the efforts customers need to make for connected devices.
2. AI-enabled commerce
Artificial intelligence is used by top companies like Amazon and Netflix for better customer experience and drive more sales. The AI include natural language processing, machine learning and deep learning technologies. These technologies can learn from data and make decisions to recommend products, personalize content, detect fraud, optimize costs, and more.
3. Immersive commerce
When customers purchase something from an online store, they are sometimes not sure how that product will look after delivery. This can result in not purchasing the item.
Modern technologies like augmented reality, virtual reality and 360-degree videos, help shoppers to visualize products into a physical environment. For example, they can try clothing or any accessories for color and size in virtual fitting rooms. They can visualize a product in 3D into a physical space.
4. Conversational commerce
Conversational commerce is about automating the interaction between retailers and customers. It is powered by AI and configured rules to improve customer experience. The interactions can take place via chat and voice bots using Facebook Messenger, WeChat, WhatsApp, etc.
The aim of providing conversational experience is to make customer journey more efficient and smooth. Several advancements are on the way to transform conversational commerce.
5. Unified commerce
Customers go through several steps when buying a product online. Sometimes the ecommerce platforms have disconnected business applications like sending the buyer to a completely new tab for transaction.
Retailers need to unify everything under one platform and make customer experience a top priority. Digitalization will enable unified commerce which will include not only e-commerce, order fulfillment, inventory management, customer relationship management, point of sale, etc.
6. Subscription commerce
Subscription commerce is a beneficial way for both retailers and customers. Ecommerce sites are providing products on recurring and renewable basis.
For example, a customer buys same shampoo every month by making a new order every time. Subscription commerce can allow him to get that shampoo delivered every month by just subscribing to that product. While customers get discount on subscription, retailers drive revenue from repeatable purchases.
7. Enterprise marketplace
Leading ecommerce companies are adopting this trend to generate more revenue. Enterprise marketplace is a growing business model which enterprises can use to sell third-party products along with own products.
8. API-based commerce
The commerce based on application programming interface (API) allows enterprises to separate the front-end from the back-end. With this, they can easily integrate new features and capabilities without impacting the architecture.
This helps them to build modular platforms to add support for new customer experiences, business models, increase partners.
9. Personalization engines
Gartner finds this technology more mature than other technologies in the list.
Digital commerce companies can personalize everything for customers from landing pages and search, to product recommendations, banners, and offers.
Personalization engines can help retailers decrease the abandonment of carts and drive revenue.
10. Visual configuration
This technology can be used to provide accurate representation of configurable and customizable products. Customers will get compelling experience interacting with the products.
The technologies included in visual configuration are 2D/3D images and videos, floor space planning and computer aided design. Further, AR and VR can also be used for visual configuration.
Gartner recommends that digital commerce companies should check the competition to know which technologies are must-have for them, rather than doing everything at once. Prioritize the remaining trends according to business value, time and cost.