Disruptive Ecommerce Technologies We’ll See This Decade

 In Ecommerce

Ecommerce and technology have always gone hand in hand. After all, shoppers are using the internet to make purchases, so it’s only natural that the industry would evolve alongside developing tech, making it easier than ever to conduct business entirely online. 

There are plenty of examples of technology that have disrupted ecommerce and changed the game for e-tailers and consumers alike. Remember when mobile shopping was the hottest trend? We’re going to take a look at the disruptive ecommerce technologies that will shape this decade so you can stay ahead of the competition.

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On-Demand Ecommerce

Instant gratification is one of the pillars of consumer culture in 2020. With the touch of a button (or, more accurately, the tap of an app) we can summon a rideshare, have a meal delivered or watch our favorite shows on demand. This right-now mindset has trickled into the ecommerce world, where consumers are expecting their orders to arrive more quickly than ever before. 

Amazon leaned into it early, offering free two-day shipping for its Prime members. Other big-box stores and tech corporations  have quickly followed suit. This increased demand has led to popular next-day and then same-day delivery options to meet growing consumer demand as part of a balanced shipping strategy for today’s ecommerce consumer. 

Just how popular are these lightning-fast fulfillment options? Let’s take a look.

Over the next 10 years, we’ll see emerging,  disruptive ecommerce technology that speeds up the fulfillment process;  consumers will truly have on-demand ecommerce. This includes further sophistication of ecommerce shipping software and its place in a local, national and international delivery ecosystem. 

Expanded Fulfillment Options

Cart abandonment is a major problem—we’re talking $4 billion of products left in shopping carts every single year. There are a multitude of reasons why someone will leave an online store, but the most common complaints are related to fulfillment. 

A key driver in lost sales and abandonment are unexpected shipping costs that drive shoppers away. Online stores continually disappoint when it comes to letting customers choose their own shipping method, but the landscape is improving each year as new solutions solve previous pain points. We expect to see a range of technologies that enable expanded fulfillment options over the years to come. The truth is that there are already some early players in the market who are disrupting ecommerce as we know it, and this is a trend you can bet will continue well into the 2020’s. 

The BOPUS (buy online, pick up in store) phenomenon has already disrupted the traditional split between shopping on a digital storefront versus at a brick-and-mortar location. It’s the best of both worlds, providing the convenience of placing an order online and the instant gratification of in-store shopping. 

Here’s a quick roundup of the latest BOPUS statistics to give you a better idea of how popular it has become:

  • 40% of consumers say BOPUS is a necessity and “very valuable” to the online shopping experience.
  • 70% of U.S. consumers are using BOPUS at any given time, and 62% are repeat users.
  • 75% of shoppers who have used BOPUS services plan to do so again in the future.
  • More than 90% of retailers plan to offer BOPUS services by 2022. 

Unsurprisingly, click-and-collect has seen immense growth during the global pandemic, and even e-tailers without physical stores have partnered with established brick-and-mortar brands to offer it. 

Streamlined technology has also helped to advance the service in the short time it has been available. Customers once had to enter a store and provide an abundance of information to secure an order. Now, they can text an automated service to have items brought out to their cars. This is only the beginning.  

Progressive Web Apps

The early days of ecommerce were marked by excitement at the possibilities of ordering anything and everything online, and the subsequent rise of mobile platforms led to app-based shopping. These brand-specific shopping apps created convenient experiences, but they existed in a bubble and, therefore, were separate from each other. Today’s consumers want uninterrupted shopping that doesn’t take them from platform to platform. It’s all about streamlining the experience nowadays, and progressive web app technology facilitates this. 

Progressive Web App (PWA) technology formats your mobile website so it looks and functions like an app according to the device the shopper is using. Is your prospective customer browsing on an iPhone? Your site will make it look and feel like they’re using an iPhone app. 

The same thing happens on an Android phone, making navigation super intuitive for the user. PWAs provide an improved customer experience because they automatically adapt to the user’s hardware and don’t require jumping to a new platform. 

The same is true for any other popular browser or phone operating system; PWA creates a superfluous and seamless shopping experience. 

From scrolling through available products to adding items to cart and smoothly checking out, the whole shopping process is integrated with day-to-day internet browsing. How’s that for easy? 

Here’s a bonus perk of PWA: the intuitive process of completing a purchase leaves less time for second-guessing.

PWAs are commonplace on social media and email websites, but they are steadily making their way to ecommerce. We’ll see them replace standalone mobile shopping apps this decade, making the apps you used to know and use… well… obsolete

Dynamic Pricing Technology

With the world of online retail becoming ever more competitive for sellers, it’s important to adopt strategies that help you stay ahead of the curve. In many ways, those strategies are related to offering the lowest price in order to attract the most shoppers—without devaluing your products. It’s a “race to the bottom” that has many businesses operating on razor-thin margins. What if we told you there’s a better way? 

Today’s technology can enable dynamic pricing in your online store, optimizing for timing and profit. How does it work?

  • You have to track the seasonality of your products, the history and changes in demand and your competitors’ pricing throughout the year.
  • These data points help you be proactive and make nearly real-time adjustments.
  • Then, just like magic, your items are priced not just to sell quickly but also to earn you the largest profit. 

Dynamic pricing isn’t necessarily new. It’s been a staple of airline price strategy for years, and it’s a lesser-known phenomenon of some products sold on Amazon. However, this technology will become a major player in ecommerce this decade. 

Omnichannel Customer Experience

Today’s customer journey is incredibly complex. It’s no longer centered around the brick-and-mortar store that shoppers visit, browse and leave with their items. Consumers in 2020 jump from device to device and platform to platform on the way to buying a product. It takes an effective and proactive ecommerce omnichannel strategy to keep them interested across each medium and eventually get them to convert. 

To do so, you have to make sure your messaging and (multi)media aligns with the other content shoppers are seeing on each platform. That means your straightforward LinkedIn post with a professional tone will stick out like a sore thumb on TikTok. Likewise, a lengthy email won’t translate well via SMS text or Facebook Messenger. The key is to blend in, so your brand becomes part of the digital landscape, subconsciously reminding shoppers to log on and buy. 

Just like with PWAs, omnichannel customer experiences are designed to integrate with our digital lives. There are brands that currently have omnichannel strategies, but everything is done manually. Ecommerce technology will automate the process so content seamlessly adapts to each platform, giving shoppers a frictionless experience both online and off.

Ecommerce Drone Delivery

Drone delivery has been part of high level technology conversations for years, but drones will finally enter the mainstream this decade. 

Amazon leads the pack yet again with its ecommerce drone delivery service, Amazon Prime Air, receiving over $2 billion in investments since 2012. That’s not to say other companies aren’t getting in on the action. UPS and Domino’s have tested drone delivery, and a Maryland hospital patient even had a kidney delivered to her by drone last year.

Here are some quick drone delivery statistics:

  • 2.6 million commercial drones are projected to be in use this year.
  • Venture capitalists invested $350 million in drone technology in 2019.
  • 80% of Amazon packages could feasibly be delivered by drones.
  • Drones deliver within 30 minutes for an average cost of $1.
  • Companies could save $50 million in shipping costs by using drone delivery.

The rise of on-demand ecommerce and the increasing prioritization of sustainability are just two factors driving drone deliveries. However, companies must first navigate a few obstacles before going all in on this technology: FAA regulations, weather-related challenges and limited battery life. We’ll see what unfolds over the next 10 years.

Chatbots & Ecommerce AI

Last year, we forecasted the focus on chatbots and artificial intelligence in ecommerce. Both are becoming must-haves for every e-tailer’s toolkit because they improve and streamline the customer experience. Sound familiar? 

Chatbots in particular are clearing the way for 24/7 brand-consumer communication. They take customer service to the next level by handling the most common issues that arise and leave the complex problems to human representatives. Chatbots also detect when a shopper is hesitating on making a purchase and jump in to answer any questions—which can help seal the deal. Overall, you’ll see improvements in customer satisfaction, conversions and cart abandonment rates. 

A Hubspot report found that 48% of online shoppers prefer to contact companies via live chat. Additionally, 73% of chat users were satisfied with their experience (compared to 61% of email users and a worrisome 44% of phone callers.) 

But here’s the most important statistic: 77% of online shoppers won’t even bother to purchase from your store if you don’t offer live chat. 

Beyond chatbots, artificial intelligence makes a ton of appearances in the ecommerce world. Product recommendations, personalized messages and offerings that cater to each specific customer are the works of technology. E-tailers will continue to harness this tech in the coming decade, leveling the playing field with the savvy shoppers who have been utilizing AI for years. 

Voice Commerce Technology

Did you know voice search is projected to drive half of online searches this year? More than 55% of households own a voice-controlled smart speaker, and that number is climbing with every passing holiday season. Indeed, voice commerce is one of the fastest growing segments of the ecommerce industry. 

A small but growing fraction of the total voice searches are ecommerce related, showing this technology is one to watch in the coming decade. It’s only a matter of time before voice search driven commerce surpasses buying from desktops/laptops. 

What this means for you: It’s time to optimize your website for voice searches. Voice searches are typically longer, so your site should include those long tail keywords and answers to your customers’ questions. Check out these killer ecommerce SEO tips for more actionable advice about optimizing your website.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) simply takes reality, or what is in the camera’s view, and superimposes additional elements to create a composite image. The first mainstream example of AR was arguably Snapchat’s filters that would distort users’ faces, but retailers quickly adopted the technology for their own gain. Beauty brands, for example, let consumers “try on” products before committing to the purchase. 

Furniture seller IKEA also launched an AR app, so shoppers could virtually test out pieces in their homes. And Home Depot and Lowe’s offer AR design apps and modes on their websites (alongside dozens of other big box hybrid brick and mortar brands).

It also goes without saying, but Amazon has made its own foray into AR with its AR View app, marketed as a home decorating/design tool, and major companies are already rolling out the virtual shopping experience that allows users to go into a VR mall and buy goods that are later shipped to their front door. 

Expect the augmented reality trend to permeate other sectors of ecommerce in unique ways, especially throughout the pandemic, when shoppers are mostly staying home. AR boosts consumer confidence in products, which motivates them to buy and reduces the likelihood of returns.  

The Future of Ecommerce

The future of online shopping is rooted in the customer experience, using technology to create a smooth, fast-paced and completely integrated journey. We’ve already seen disruptive technologies emerge in recent years, and we expect high adoption rates through the rest of the decade. 

The industry is quick and nimble, meaning outdated e-tail practices (and sellers) will be left behind. We also have to expect the unexpected and be ready to pivot when the time comes.  

For more awesome ecommerce technology news and predictions, don’t miss our related guide: 2019 Ecommerce Technology Trends that Change the Game.