There are new stats and research coming out every day defining how technology is changing the world as we know it.
None more so than in ecommerce – online shopping has changed a lot in the past 20 years and it's safe to say it will be a lot different in the next two, let alone 20. But what are some the big trends in tech that will be responsible for these changes?
Some of these solutions are currently in their infancy and are slowly being integrated into the world of online retail. Adopting them early and gaining a firm understanding on how they can affect and optimize ecommerce ventures is very important in building a brand for the future. Let's explore five of these developments in retail tech to keep on your radar.
Augmented reality (AR) has been around a few years now, but really got thrusted into the spotlight with the release of Pokémon Go in the summer of 2016. Basically, augmented reality works to offer the user graphical enhancement into their real-life, physical environment.
As technology becomes more ubiquitous, it is likely that AR will see an explosion of creative uses across the market. IKEA for example, has been a pioneer of incorporating AR into their online operation. Their online catalog lets customers see exactly how a piece of furniture will look in their home.
AR will inevitably change the game for online stores as it will make the overall experience much more interactive in terms of showcasing products, training, education, and remote collaboration. Every online retailer would be smart to jump on the AR bandwagon sooner than later.
Real-Time Delivery Tracking
This concept has been around for a while too, but surprisingly, has a lot of room to grow. Upon purchasing products or services online, most consumers today want to be updated of the exact location of their item and its estimated time of arrival. End-to-end tracking is becoming a necessity in the world of online shopping and your store can benefit from it in a number of ways.
There are many platforms out there that can utilize GPS to schedule and monitor trucks, consolidate shipments, and give real-time connections with consumers. Companies everywhere are using real-time delivery tracking to make the lives of their customers easy and stress-free.
For instance, Firmoo, an online optical store, implements their package tracking system directly on their homepage so customers can simply keep tabs on their orders.
Real-time delivery tracking technology can do wonders for online stores in terms of troubleshooting, efficient processing, and most importantly, keeping missing package complaints to a minimum.
One of the major roadblocks with online shopping is the disconnection with the people who can easily answer questions. This is where live chat comes in. Live chat is a tech development that has the power to change the impersonal stigma associated with online shopping.
Live chat is all about making the shopping experience easy, informative, and convenient. 44% of online consumers say that having their questions answered by a live person while in the midst of an online purchase is one of the most important features a website can have.
Live chat can do a lot to cut down on overall costs for contact centers, as well as make better use of support representatives' time by allowing them to interact with multiple customers simultaneously.
As a rule of thumb, it's a smart move to consider people with sales experience as live chat representatives, as they are already trained in dealing with people and are more tuned in to guiding users down the sales funnel.
Internet of Things
If you aren't familiar with the Internet of Things (IoT), don't waste any more time and do some research. Over the next five years, we are likely going to see a huge revolution in how we live our lives and how business is operated. The IoT truly is "the future."
Basically, the IoT refers to the intelligence of internet-enabled devices known as "smart devices." These can be items such as refrigerators, TVs, and thermostats that can all be accessible through a mobile device.
This groundbreaking tech phenomenon will inevitably shake up the world of business for years to come. Perhaps the biggest change will come from the ability to use data in a much more intricate way. For example, an IoT connected refrigerator would be able to keep data on the kinds of food the user buys, their eating habits, and reorder replenishments when they are running low. Brands everywhere can use this type of information to influence their outreach efforts and provide a more personalized level of customer support.
Amazon has been making waves for years about their plans to incorporate drones into their shipping options and has kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
Perhaps the true potential of drones has not yet been fully realized. However, it is a safe bet to say that they will change the face of logistics for online stores across the board.
The future is looking very bright for this fascinating breakthrough in tech. Drones would undoubtedly lead to faster and more hassle-free deliveries as they would no longer be dependent on a third-party carrier.
However, supply chains will need to be revolutionized in a manner that effectively matches products with capable drones along with a need to have enough trained manpower to get the new systems up and running. Additionally, there will need to be regulations for air traffic put into place as well as policies for security.
Although the potential for drone delivery options for online stores is huge, it will take a few years for them to be properly and fully integrated into the market.
The future has a lot in store for humans and businesses alike. Even though a lot of the truly remarkable advancements in tech are currently impractical, there is a lot to look forward to.
All business owners would be wise to keep their eyes and ears open for the latest changes in tech and how it can influence their operations. Doing so is the best way to evolve and stay ahead of the trends.