E-commerce is the go-to method of purchase for many people, and the success of giant online retailers such as Amazon is proof. Many people instantly resort to ordering online, often using their phone, for the ease and convenience of it, not to mention the depth of selection that can’t, by its nature, be implemented in even big box stores. It’s a given that if you want something very specific to your tastes, you go online to find it.
As disruptive as e-commerce itself was to retail as a whole, new disruptive technology trends are still making waves even there.
Here are the top five ecommerce technology trends in 2017.
While laptops and desktop PCs aren’t quite a thing of the past because they function more efficiently than mobile for many work-related tasks, mobile is king in the online world right now. The always-on nature of mobile has made it integral to leisure browsing and, of course, shopping. Many companies now even take a mobile-first approach to design, whereas it was once optimized secondarily.
Easy navigation on mobile, plus quick communication and simple payment lead the way in ecommerce in 2017.
Plus, new mobile functionality such as augmented and virtual reality are finding their way into online retail.
2. Augmented and virtual reality
Mobile phones and affordable headsets provide most users an easy method of transition between real, augmented, and virtual worlds, and online retailers are taking advantage of that.
For example, Expedia lets users see their hotel rooms in virtual reality before the book online.
Other companies are using the power of augmented reality to shape their ecommerce experience. While many view augmented reality as a supplement only to physical world stores, creative online retailers are using it to generate serious value for their customers.
One such example of this is Magic Leap, who uses AR to let users view lamps and similar objects at-scale overtop their own real-life dresser to see how they would fit if they purchased them.
3. Big data for a custom experience
Big data is a major player in practically every industry right now, and ecommerce is no exception.
In the realm of ecommerce, data can be used to give customers ultra-customized experiences. In fact, especially in younger generations, this sort of customized experience is expected for the willing exchange of data.
Something like treating new and returning customers differently and displaying different pages and options to them lie at the simple end of this spectrum, with complex options that let e-retailers know what a customer may want and need to buy before they themselves know based on behaviors of similar customers.
4. Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence has a variety of uses within e-commerce, not the least of which is chatbots. In an age where communication with brands is a major driving force, and users expect near-immediate responses from brand Twitters at all hours of the day.
Artificial intelligence can assist with this by answering basic questions from users, nurturing leads, arranging meetings with sales, and more. Best of all, because natural language in AIs has become advanced, users can usually not tell the difference between and AI chat and a one with a human.
Artificial intelligence can also help ecommerce sellers by identifying buying patterns and even discovering new customer segments.
5. Alternative payments & cryptocurrency
With companies like Starbucks adopting mobile payments with special loyalty bonuses, and many physical retailers all over the country who allow payment using sensors and mobile phones, it’s apparent that the way we pay is changing. While many alternative payment methods involve digital and touchless options, there’s another major change on the financial horizon–cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency, such as bitcoin and ether, has gained huge traction in the media, spurring many new and seasoned investors to place their cash into these new, digital forms of currency. Some real-world retailers such as Red Bull have given users the option to pay with crypto, but it is becoming more widespread with e-tailers as well.
Many brands will now take payment in widely-accepted forms of crypto such as bitcoin in return for goods and services.