“Fast and furious” might be the best way to describe the pace and intensity of change in e-commerce. What can brands and retailers do to keep up?
From AI-driven personalization to video shopping capabilities and immersive digital experiences, the next wave of e-commerce is here. Brands that catch this wave are making next-gen e-commerce work to their advantage; those that don’t risk losing customers and market share. Behind the scenes, the tech vendors supporting these emerging digital media and e-commerce capabilities are constantly innovating new platforms and services that boost value for their customers — and ultimately, for consumers.
In a recent webinar, I discussed these trends — and how brands and retailers can best prepare for next-gen e-commerce — with David Dorf, global head of retail industry solutions at Amazon Web Services (AWS), and my colleague Pradip Lal, senior product marketing manager for e-commerce at Cloudinary.
David and Pradip shared some of the current trends that are driving next-gen e-commerce for brands and retailers:
- Personalization: 80% of shoppers report that they prefer to buy from sites offering personalized experiences, even if they have to pay more for products.
- Real-time customization: Enabling consumers to interact and play with products in real time, such as by customizing items or changing their colors, is an important part of the buying process.
- Product display in 360-degree views: “Offering that 360-spin is crucial now, particularly for apparel and footwear brands,” Lal noted.
- Augmented and virtual reality experiences: Savvy online shoppers are quickly adopting AR and VR as part of their shopping experience, with 66% of consumers interested in using these technologies to make a purchase. “Consumers are looking for the ability to experience the physical world in a web browser,” Dorf said.
- Immersive storefronts: Rich visual experiences lead to higher engagement and help to give shoppers a deeper understanding of products before they purchase.
- Optimized customer experiences: There are three key steps in creating an optimized customer experience, which boosts overall purchases:
- Step 1: Build an intuitive and appealing UX.
- Step 2: Create relevant and highly performant content.
- Step 3: Deliver captivating and engaging digital experiences.
“These are the elements that brands and retailers are really going to be focusing on now and into the near future,” Dorf noted. “They are critical game-changers at this point for businesses that want to keep up with the demands for next-gen e-commerce.”
Embracing the trends that are driving next-gen e-commerce is necessary — but that doesn’t mean it is easy. Brands and retailers will face plenty of challenges along the way, including determining what these new technologies mean for their company and which technologies and experiences will resonate most in helping them create their unique brand experience.
“For many of the brands I’ve spoken to, it’s all about making sure that the technologies and experiences can be seamlessly integrated,” Lal noted. “They want tools that enable them to execute on the basics, while also supporting them through their innovation pipeline/roadmap. These companies are looking to add new functions or features into their existing tech stack without actually having to invest and develop.”
According to Dorf, companies looking to excel at next-gen e-commerce should prioritize “getting their data house in order.” Having a solid data strategy, he says, “will empower you to have advanced visual media offerings and to do some of the artificial intelligence that’s necessary to know your customers better.” By contrast, he warns, “If you have data strewn around in different silos that are unconnected and disjointed, you’ll be struggling against that for a long time.”
Companies can get ahead and prepare for this wave of e-commerce innovation by taking these six actionable steps:
- Become familiar with the trends driving next-gen e-commerce.
- Identify the challenges your company might face in addressing these trends.
- Consider how the e-commerce experience will evolve over the next 3-5 years for both retail (B2C) and wholesale (B2B) consumers.
- Focus on those trends that will help you to differentiate and best deliver your unique brand DNA and experience.
- Learn more about the technology solutions available to address these trends.
- Build a plan to address existing challenges and pave the way to adopt new trends.
Looking for more details on how your business can implement these six steps? Listen to the full webinar on demand to gain more insights. Reach out to Cloudinary for guidance on how to use digital tools to help position your brand for next-gen e-commerce success.