6. September 2019
We are all aware that sometimes just a few hours without internet can cause us stress, disrupt our plans, communication and even business. Modern business is unthinkable without Internet and yet, there are companies that do not exist online.
Technology development has brought increased bandwidth, business automation, numerous applications and software solutions that became an integral part of users’ lives, and now inevitably raise their expectations to an enviable technological level. Machine learning has enabled development of virtual assistants, chatbots and hyper-personalized offers. IoT (Internet of Things) technology brings connected devices and sensors, which not only facilitates new ways of buying, information and communication, but also enables the realization of a smart city concept in which customers, manufacturers, retailers, service providers and media companies cooperate in new digital ecosystem.
New sources of revenue and business models have turned global economy around in less than a decade. The world’s richest people and multi billionaires are no longer industrial magnates, but IT leaders and founders of successful software companies, such as: Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Michael Rubens Bloomberg (Bloomberg LP) and Larry Page & Sergey Brin (Google). Interestingly enough, they are followed by retail chain owners (Inditex and Walmart) who are migrating their businesses online with a clear goal to close their brick and mortar stores in the next couple of years.
That is why it is extremely surprising that e-commerce in our region does not have a faster growth rate and that retailers hesitate to make investments in that area, as if they do not believe in the prospects of success of their online stores.
A successful online store requires good design, personalized offerings, advanced functionality and reliability, enabled via continuous innovation. Customers have greater trust in online stores that are well maintained, optimized for all devices, with relevant content (descriptions, pricing, images and availability), that allow for quick and easy access, with truly dedicated customer support.
Let’s look at the statistics that clearly confirm that:
Trends and Innovations in E-commerce Arena
E-trade is an area of rapid growth but also frequent changes, so it is rare for an eShop to remain unchanged for several years. Numerous technological innovations are currently being applied to e-commerce domain, and many innovations are emerging to enhance customer experience. Some of significant innovations in the field of e-commerce are:
1.AR & VR (Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality)
Most successful online traders embrace technological innovations that enhance customers’ lives and take their experience to the next level. AR and VR are exactly these kinds of technologies that provide a perfect online shopping experience via 3D product models.
There are over 24 million VR devices in use worldwide. Applications of these technologies are numerous, from trying out clothes, glasses, hats, to decorating homes with virtual furniture and decorative items.
Virtual stores were first introduced by eBay in Australia. VR stores give impression of a real life shopping experience with a mix of the best offline and online experiences (personalized offers, searches and preset filters for products, product specification information, pricing and availability).
2.Digital assistants and chatbots
Millions of users interact daily with digital assistants such as: Amazon Alexa, Apple HomePod, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Samsung Bixby digital assistants. Gartner predicts that next year 30% of all searches will be voice searches, which creates new rules in the field of digital marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and imposes a new task of mandatory audio searches on e-commerce portals.
New digital assistant products are emerging in the market as e-commerce plugins that are expected to be transaction generators and popular with drivers as much as GPS devices. This is supported by data that there has been a significant increase (900% annually) in geo-location searches of the term “Near me” along with the term “Buy” from mobile devices in recent years.
Chatbots enhance user experience, albeit still in the development phase. Annual growth of chatbots in the market is constant at 24%. Machine learning and AI allow for fast and quality development of chatbots and it is a matter of time before there will no longer be a situation that will turn the issue over to people.
In the domestic market, SAGA successfully developed serbian chatbot solution for Raiffeisen virtual assistant named Rea.
3.Recommendation system (eRecommender)
Recommendation system is machine learning based tool that enables generation of personalized offers of relevant products to customers. Recommender significantly reduces time of customer search for a desired product and enables increase in conversion rate.
In the domestic market, Technomania eShop pioneered an advanced recommendation system, personalization of eShop and Newsletter thanks to an implemented Impoqo e-commerce solution by Enetel Solutions.
Shopping has always had a social component. Today, it is reflected in integrating social platforms with e-commerce platforms, not only as advertising platforms, but also in facilitating online sales within social network itself.
Soon after Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest also enabled brands to advertise (Promoted Pins and Product Rich Pins) and sell products (Buyable Pins) on its platform. Thanks to visual search that already exists, customers can easily find products they want to buy.
Snapchat has joined e-commerce platforms with a new ad format – Collection Ads (similar to Shoppable Instagram Stories) that allows purchases by clicking on products for the duration of the video.
5.Brand Communication and Storytelling
When customers interact with the brand through purchases, they are only interested in the price, those margins will be reduced to business sustainability level and such businesses will be beaten by bigger players.
That is why it is very important to provide customers with quality content on the online store, which establishes closer relationships with customers and their more frequent communication with the brand. By creating a Story, successful retailers create added value for their customers and sales of such themed products, and even bundle offers, are far more successful than regular eShop products.
Metalac market is a example of a domestic retailer who has successfuly launched this concept of buyable Stories, by posting interesting recipes for current season and product creation stories.
6.B2B E-commerce and Dropshipping
Wholesale eCommerce (B2B) has encountered much greater resistance worldwide than retail (B2C), precisely because of complex pricing lists that are hyper-customized to clients and contracted projects. Additionally, stock planning and freight forwarding further slowed down B2B development (thus reducing online interactions to filling out contact forms).
Global giant Alibaba is responsible for promotion and expansion of B2B e-commerce and drop shipping has become a global trend.
Customer ratings and comments system further instills confidence in retailers to opt for such transactions.
Although general trend is to close physical stores, reduce the number or size of retail stores, one should not neglect physical contact of the brand with the customer. That’s why online brands and marketplaces are initially opening so-called Popup shops all around the world. These can be temporary facilities at festivals, a designed kiosk, a counter, a refurbished truck or a mini shop in a prestigious location and in a shopping mall. This type of facility usually allows only online sales, but it is valuable for promoting the brand and possibly introducing users to new products.
8.Innovative product delivery
Although Amazon has begun drone deliveries in England, domestic buyers have more modest expectations. Timely delivery information in the region is often elusive, but Nsport eShop is a great example of how something like this is possible. Thanks to high levels of business automation, creating orders and integration with Daily Express courier service that digitized its business, customers are notified of the delivery time and all ordered products are received in a single shipment. Delivery of goods in the region is also enabled in digital kiosks-containers near users’ locations, so that they can pick up the goods at any desired time.
Every innovation needs to be carefully planned and implemented in an online store in order to improve customer relations and leave competition a few steps behind.
Enetel Solutions is a company that continuously demonstrates its innovation and strives for a regional leadership position in the field of e-commerce. By constantly innovating and improving the Impoqo eCommerce solution, Enetel enables its clients to achieve their business goals and set a long-term online sales strategy. Under the slogan ‘Let’s shape the future together’, Enetel calls on retailers to partner with them and promote e-commerce in the region.
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