The Future of Ecommerce
Predicting the future is tricky, but not impossible.
Over the past 20 years, online commerce has evolved from clunky text-based pages asking you to email your credit card to Bob, to the current rich digital media experience well implemented eCommerce presences offer. The fundamental driver of the evolution of eCommerce has been the technical landscape in which it resides, and over the years this has bought us m-commerce, video reviews, tablet specific interfaces, asynchronous loading (“AJAX”), social recommendations, and much, much more. What this suggests is that current and future technology trends and directions will continue to shape online commerce.
The past few years have seen the explosive growth of mobile commerce, with more and more consumers browsing and buying from their phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. In the short term, this has meant that mobile experiences are relatively compromised, due to the bandwidth constraints of current technology, however with the rollout of 4G networks (this is happening, now, albeit slowly) far greater possibilities will be presented in terms of mobile interaction with customers, such as mobile video, large image zooms, and even the potential of AR (Augmented Reality) shopping (image recognition technology is coming along with almost alarming rapidity). We are continuing innovate with our mobile solution, and will be presenting a tablet specific solution for use both by consumers and as an in-store kiosk later this year.
Contactless payment in the physical world will make the jump to mobile devices (Near Field Contact is already appearing in phones), which will present the possibility of customers being able to pay online in a highly frictionless fashion, boosting both online and in-store conversions. In addition, we anticipate Payment Service Providers evolving and competing to provide improved capabilities, such as direct marketplace payments. We’re currently working with a major PSP to see if we can help them bring this to market this year, as we’ve found that this is a direction a large number of retailers, fashion in particular, seek to move.
The social marketplace will continue to evolve, moving beyond interaction with specific social networks such as facebook, to networks formed through the sharing of device and contact information, spearheaded by the likes of Apple, who already allow the stealthy sharing of contact lists via their iOS SDK. This will likely present a new range of opt-in social marketing opportunities, such as the ability for friend referrals to be utterly frictionless for the consumer, or the ability to determine customer recommendations based on their friends’ purchases. We currently integrate with facebook for these purposes and others, and we’re building “social awareness” into bluCommerce, using friend recommendation data and so-forth in order to figure out customers’ social graphs, demographics, and likely preferences.
Conventional television broadcasting continues to be a valuable marketing channel, both in the form of brief ad spots and infomercials, however this will be gradually replaced over the following decade as television technology continues to develop at an astounding rate. More and more consumers are now using their televisions for far more than just television, and web browsing via television-integrated or media server browsers is on the rise. We anticipate that this growth will really start to kick off later this year, when Apple release their much touted and rumoured new Apple TV, in much the same fashion as mobile commerce has seen a substantial boost with the launch of each subsequent iPhone, as the inclusion of a web browser is likely. In order to cater for this, we have been putting thought into interfaces designed to be usable and legible from a distance on a large display.
Like it or not, 3d is here to stay, and it’s going go go glassesless, cheap and mainstream in the next few years. As this happens, web developers will rapidly hop onto the latest cool tech, and 3d interface and graphic design will become the marque of a well built site, and will become broadly supported and will further drive 3d adoption. This will result in a large 3d-enabled audience, who can be presented products in full glorious 3d, allowing them to make a more informed, and therefore better converting, purchase.
As processing power becomes cheaper and faster, and methodologies for the extraction and interpretation of datum from large data-sets improve, retailers’ abilities to market to consumers on an individual level will increase by orders of magnitude, ultimately leading to a completely personalised cross-channel retail experience being the standard. Retailers will additionally be able to more deeply comprehend and analyse the impact of marketing directions and the cumulative effect of marketing campaigns on individual consumer segments through improved analytical methodologies empowered by the same rise in cheap compute.
As a result of the improved analytical and integration abilities near future and even upcoming present technologies offer, such as customer data-set integration, pattern analysis, high-speed reliable wireless data networks, and contactless payment systems, multi-channel retail strategies will increasingly converge in overall direction, as a result of a combined strategic overview of the channels due to improved data management and integration opportunities. This will result in unprecedented abilities to understand and predict consumer behaviour on a demographic and even individual level, further leading to the tailor-made, effortless, incredibly powerful shopping experience of the very near future.
We at blubolt have put thought when building bluCommerce into the many possibilities future development can present, and have built our platform to be heavily extensible, down to the very core of its build, in order to be able to adopt and trail-blaze future technologies as they become technically feasible and economically viable.