Top 5 E-commerce Technology Trends for 2016

Last year Amazon’s sales grew by 20%. Meanwhile, Walmart struggles to achieve even a 1% growth. Guess why? Traditional e-commerce solutions no longer work on their own! If you want to start a successful online store, be sure to merge the digital & real-world customer experience – and keep up with the times, of course! What are the latest trends in e-commerce website and app development? Read on to find out!

E-commerce technology: hottest trends to watch this year

Top 5 E-commerce Technology Trends for 2016
  • M-commerce. Today 78% of US population comfortably access the Web from both desktop and mobile – and it looks like users no longer shy away from mobile payments, too! With 34% of the global payment transactions made on smartphones, building an e-commerce mobile-friendly website or native application is a must. However, simply having an app on the App Store and optimizing your website for mobile doesn’t always translate into actual sales. An average smartphone owner interacts with up to 27 apps monthly (with only 5 apps including Facebook seeing heavy use), so basically no one is waiting for your brand-new app. Should you stick to mobile web then? Hold on a sec! What do your competitors do to reach people on mobile? Prominent US retailers (including Target and Macy’s) use beacons to reward their customers with digital coupons and personal shopping tips; according to Macy’s, beacons boost app usage by 16 times. Smaller brands that cannot afford building a mobile app or simply want to test the waters often distribute digital coupons through third-party services like RetailMeNot or ShopAdvisor. Starbucks turned to gamification and developed a creative customer loyalty program. Now coffee lovers earn stars for every purchase and exchange the virtual currency for free drinks. The company also announced plans to partner with Apple Pay so that customers could pay for coffee by simply tapping an iPhone or Apple Watch at a Starbucks terminal. As a result, 20% of Starbucks’ payment transactions now come from mobile. Smartphone users are the force to reckon with; do you know how to engage them?
  • Customer-centered approach. The era of traditional SEO is officially over. With the latest “out-of-the box” e-commerce SEO technologies (including third-party apps, widgets and WordPress plugins), businesses can automate a great share of website optimization processes and…devote more time to their customers. Product pages (lots of pictures and a few lines of text) are on their way out. Users now spend 21% of their Web time in search engines; what are they looking for? Well, it is reviews and high-quality long-form content that helps them make buying decisions. Video content is the next big thing, two. Website users who watch product videos while shopping online are 3.3 times more likely to make a purchase. By the end of 2016, videos will account for 60% of the world’s web traffic. And don’t forget about user experience. An online shopper may start a transaction on mobile and then complete it on a PC or tablet; does your app look (and feel) equally good on all existing platforms? Some brands (including L’Oreal and Converse) use the Augmented Reality technology, enabling customers to virtually try on their products. Once you deliver value to your customers, you’re doomed to success;
  • Omnipresent IoT. Gartner claims there will be 6.4 billion connected devices worldwide by the end of this year; it’s no wonder the Internet of Things is one of the latest tech trends in e-commerce right now! In fact, IoT is the very tool that can help retailers bring online and in-store experience together. We’ve already told you about the beacon technology; however, IoT is much bigger than that. Last year Amazon announced its Dash button – a smart gadget connected to a user’s smartphone through Wi-Fi. Once you’re running out of something (washing powder, shaving gel or whatever it is), you simply press the magic button and…order the goods online. What looked like a silly joke at first (Dash was launched one day before April Fools’) resulted in a 75% increase in orders. Similar solution was implemented by Domino. The innovative approach to online shopping helped the famous pizza restaurant chain increase sales by 15% – and that’s not to mention the extensive media coverage the company got for free. Technology helps you win customers – and their wallets, of course. Why not embrace it?
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  • Chatbots on the rise. A chatbot is a smart computer program designed to handle conversations on a human level. Chatbots provide relevant information to users and guide them through complicated online transactions – and that’s exactly what 44% of online shoppers want. You can create a chatbot while building an e-commerce website or run the smart program inside a messaging app. Popular messengers including Kik, Facebook and WeChat (the Chinese monster app with 700 million active users) have launched chatbot platforms to enable companies build smart voice assistants and use them for business purposes. It is considerably cheaper to develop a chatbot than a high-quality mobile app – and that’s why some IT experts think bots will soon replace mobile applications. If you’re not sure your e-commerce app makes it to the “lucky 27” (that’s how many apps an average user installs on a smartphone, remember?), you can always reach your potential customers through the Facebook Messenger – just like 1-800-Flowers, Shopify and eBay do;
  • Big data analysis. As you know, some brands employ latest e-commerce technologies like beacons to drive in-store sales and increase mobile app usage. However, the Internet of Things’ impact stretches far beyond digital coupons and loyalty programs. Beacons and fast order buttons have access to user location data, and chatbots go even further, using credit card numbers to make instant payments online. Provided e-commerce companies manage to capture and use the data, they will get a better insight into customer buying behavior and create high-targeted ads. In fact, 27% of US enterprises that implement IoT-generated data in digital advertising meet their goals in terms of user engagement. With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (the technology that powers smart voice assistants), every business can develop a single-purpose computer program to analyze customer data – and boost sales, of course.
Top 5 E-commerce Technology Trends for 2016 Ok, we know what you’re thinking. Website, mobile app and embedded system development is expensive. You only wanted to create a simple website and see how it all goes – and we’re encouraging you to pull an Amazon. Never rush a business decision, though. New technology is totally affordable. Have you ever heard about printed smart sensors that basically cost nothing? Do you know that software developers from Eastern Europe charge 4 times less than their US colleagues? Have you ever heard of Magento – an open-source e-commerce platform that powers Nike, Lenovo, Nestle and 20% of other online stores out there? If you offer real value to customers and address a reliable software development company, you can do more with less. Your vendor may put up a Magento website and integrate it with WordPress so you could publish long engaging posts (with infographics and videos). He can also design a smart bot to see how active your mobile audience is. Once you start getting revenues, you can invest in mobile app development and – think of it! – start an IoT project. Anything is possible – provided you know what you want, think big and follow the latest e-commerce trends.
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