Which Technologies Contribute To Ecommerce Growth: The pace of technology change is very fast and individuals, businesses and Governments need to be in sync with it. Internet and smartphones are becoming an integral part of every life. Internet is no more a source of information, but has become an important tool for shopping, learning, working, communicating and even connecting with plumbers, carpenters, doctors, etc.
SMBs and large enterprises are also embracing advanced technologies to stay in business. Several industries including retail are going digital and online to increase the reach and to better connect with customers. Supply chains are becoming leaner and smarter as digital platforms are helping to connect buyers and sellers directly.
In the future, technology landscape for various aspects of e-commerce will be very different. The future technologies enabling e-businesses will be revolutionary and bring faster dynamics into the operations. Some of these enabling technologies for e-commerce are discussed below:
The rise of Internet, smartphone and social media users have made analytics an integral part of any digital business. There is abundance of customer data in every business including e-commerce and analytics helps in deriving meaningful insights to help the business in growing and serving the customers better.
Massive increases in the volume of data and the complexity of information from CRM, ERP, point of sales (POS) data and other systems make it difficult to have customer behavior insights without a focused analytical interface. The e-commerce industry generates data from several sources like e-tailer website, IT systems, review and ratings providers and social media sites.
e-tailer need to have real-time access to information to measure return on online investments and optimize the channel mix.
There are basic analytics capabilities available with the e-commerce players like basket size analysis, average order value and conversion ratio, but with the changing scenario and increasing customer base the organizations need to deploy deeper analytics solutions that provide actionable insight around overall digital customer experience.
The analytics solution should include end to end process starting from the vendor management and supply chain to customer satisfaction. It should have holistic view of the data spanning across all departments such marketing, sales, customer service, finance and the supply chain for gaining better insights and making strategic business decisions.
The availability of e-commerce applications on various mobility devices is helping to drive sales and revenue. E-tailers like Flipkart, Amazon and Jabong now get 50% of their revenues from consumers shopping on their mobile phones. Predictive analytics is helping the e-tailers to provide better solutions in real-time enabling compelling user experience even on mobile screens.
Analytics is the future of the online business but it needs a focused study of the organizational objectives and goals for effective implementation and cost savings.
When it comes to running an online business the crucial part is how the customer will pay. An e-commerce payment gateway is a service that authorizes credit card, debit card or online banking payments and processes them securely with a user’s merchant account for electronic fund transfer (EFT).
The world is moving from cash to digital money and thus there is a need of payment gateway for sustainable future e-commerce.
Payment gateways help the e-tailers to receive money instantly rather than waiting for the CoD payments, thus reducing chances of theft and fraud. The retailers are slowly moving towards payment gateways for improving security and dealing with other complexities which arise with financial transactions.
The banks as well as the e-tailers are offering different offers like cashback and easy Easy Monthly Installment (EMI) to encourage customers for card-based payments. Startups like Paytm and FreeCharge are providing mobile wallets while almost every commercial bank is providing the option to pay online via credit or debit card.
The popular EMI option which can be availed by credit card users with online payment are luring customer to pay online upfront for high-value items. The payment gateways use various security measures such One Time Password (OTP), CVV in case of debit/credit card, etc.
There are multiple ways to enable mobile devices for transactions through Near Field Communication (NFC), Quick Response (QR) code, sound wave or Bluetooth low energy (BLE) technologies. Point of Sale (POS) device is enabled to process on-premises payments using these technologies. These processes are not only easy, convenient, and fast but also quite secure.
Social networks have started to play a significant role in the growth of the e-commerce business. The maturity of social media and its reach across masses and classes makes it a suitable platform for online sales. Social media pages provide information regarding new products in the market, user reviews and ratings of the product, recommendations, share products, etc.
Every 30 seconds, e-commerce industry generates $1.2 million revenue with Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter contributing $5,483, $4,504 and $4,308 respectively. In 2013, 39% of Facebook users liked brand pages to research products while 74% of consumers rely on social media for product-related guidance.
Social media also helps e-tailers to build brand awareness by responding to customer queries. Seasonal sales and offers are displayed in social networks to reach maximum number of people. E-tailers have even started to motivate customers with reward points to provide feedback on the product on social networks.
Prospective customers also interact with users of the product or service on social networks before making purchase decision. According to analysts, product reviews and ratings, as well as product recommendations, were the most popular social commerce features integrated into leading e-commerce sites as of August 2013.
Increasingly social networks have direct links to e-commerce sites, which provide complete product description, availability status, pricing and delivery information, and access to product reviews and ratings, all of which help prospective buyers to make a purchase.
The social media provides a platform for e-tailers to engage with customers for:
• Building brand awareness
• Developing a community of trusted users
• Spreading Word-of-Mouth
• Customer feedback
Though autonomous vehicles are in their nascent stage, they have high potential in the future for e-commerce. The growth of e-commerce in the last decade and the projected growth in the near future are putting upward pressure on large players like Amazon, Flipkart in order fulfillment.
They have challenges in scaling up the inventory to satisfy more number of customers and providing better variety due to limited space of warehouses and manual processes. Inventory scaling needs an efficient solution for handling inventory.
Small autonomous, robotic vehicles have been deployed in warehouses in recent years, replacing conventional systems composed largely of static conveyor belts. Autonomous vehicles could greatly help in the order fulfilment process by reducing the cost and time of delivery, thus providing better customer experience.
With the rising demand for e-commerce, autonomous vehicles could be a boon to solve several challenges faced by the e-commerce industry. There are several players working on building capabilities in this area and running small pilots to test their solutions.
For example, a small pizza shop succeeded in making a test-delivery less than 3 km away from its outlet by using a remote-controlled, GPS-enabled drone. However, regulations in some countries currently do not permit commercial deliveries by unmanned aerial objects.
Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) solution provider, Hi-Tech Robotic Systemz, is focusing on automating e-commerce fulfillment centers.
The company expanded into warehousing specifically for omni-channel fulfillment using mobile robots addressing main challenges including, extreme peak season/day volumes, small number of items per order, large number of SKUs, high rate of customer return and optimal use of space among others.
The rise of e-commerce is empowering the customers to not only choose from a number of products but to also customize them as per their needs. The massive growth and competition in the e-commerce market necessitates the players to differentiate their offerings through customization, better pre- and post- delivery and compelling overall user experience.
3D printing can minimize the time required to take a product from design to production and production to market. The manufacturers can increase the range of products with small variations to achieve greater customer satisfaction.
The other advantages of 3D printing are that the retailers can sell the design rather than the end product to the customer with a license to print the product. The e-commerce provider can provide a digital platform for the customer to self-design the products and subsequently place an order.
The self-printing product market will expand if the 3D printer prices come down and become more accessible. 3D printing is yet to reach the masses but it has a tremendous potential to disrupt the manufacturing and retail sector.
E-tailer, eBay has rolled out an iPhone application named eBay Exact, which allows customers to browse and buy customizable print-on-demand merchandise from three 3D printing companies. Apart from eBay, Amazon in partnership with 3DLT will offer 3D printing service with 50 items that can be printed and shipped within 6 to 10 days.