eCommerce is an ever-changing thing and if you don’t believe that, just take a look at what Amazon looked like a mere seven years ago. There’s still a lot more of 2017 to come and, in that time, there are many things which could change the way eCommerce works.
1. Apps Will Take Over
The first group of apps debuted on the App Store in July 2008. That’s nearly a decade which, in technological terms, is an extremely long time. However, it wasn’t until the tail-end of last year that mobile overtook desktop as the primary way we access the internet. This trend looks set to continue and, as it does, eCommerce sites will need to be prepared for the new world order with either a mobile-friendly website, an app or both in order to sell their products.
Whether they’re hailing a taxi, booking a sports massage, finding local plumbers, or ordering Mexican food, people expect to be able to use their mobiles to do so. That means apps and that means mobile-friendly websites.
2. …Or Maybe Chatbots Will?
Apps have become so widespread — and the market so saturated — that some are predicting their demise. After all, when your domination of the marketplace is near absolute, you end up with a big target on your back. This is the case with apps and the rise of chatbots.
There are a few different kinds of chatbots, but the principle is the same. Rather than tapping to order, you simply type or talk to an AI. The Chabot for KLM airlines allows you to get directions, book flights, and find other information by texting, and at-home bots like Amazon Echo allow you to do much the same by talking.
You may think we’ve been here before with dumb AI like SmarterChild, but we really haven’t. The science behind AI has reached such a point whereby it’s commercially viable — even desirable — for customers to talk to a bot rather than a person.
Despite some overhyped claims, however, this likely won’t be the end of apps. Chatbots will play a part in the future of eCommerce, perhaps a very big part, but they will have to share that future with the millions of people who are already perfectly happy just tapping. Using apps like Uber is already a remarkably simple thing to do. Chatbots won’t make doing so any easier and both options are cheap, so an en masse switchover is highly unlikely.
3. Same Day Or Not At All
In an eye-opening study from Business Insider, it was revealed that as much as 40 per cent of customers will immediately stop shopping if they discover that same-day delivery is not an option. This trend is only likely to continue as more and more customers, used to the speed of delivery promised by services like Amazon, will expect ever faster service as companies try to compete with each other.
4. The Supply Chain May Need A Revolution
On a small scale, there are all kinds of revolutions happening within the supply chain in order for suppliers to meet the demand for faster delivery. Uber Eats has taken the Uber model and applied it to food — with casual delivery from part-time staff leading to even faster fast food from a wider range of restaurants. Then there’s Amazon, who are promising drone-based delivery in a matter of minutes. Even Taco Bell has gotten involved, promising delivery via chatbot through Slack, the at-work messaging system.
All of this spells out a supply chain which is much quicker and much more personalisable. To make this possible, supply chains are exploring new technologies and new business models all to satisfy the ever-increasing demands of the modern consumer.
That’s all well and good for local and national delivery, but here’s the rub: we can’t get much faster international delivery than we do right now. Cargo boats travel 15 knots on average and they can’t go far beyond that speed. The idea of shipping goods via container took off in the 1950s, and since then we’ve shipped more and more stuff from farther and farther away.
Technology has developed a lot since the fifties: tastes have changed, trends have changed, and consumers have changed. However, the modern consumer still has to wait pretty much the same amount of time for a product to be delivered from or to overseas. As customers become less and less patient, they will expect this time to decrease. Shipping things by air have been suggested as a solution, but it’s fraught with problems. For now, we’re all just waiting for a revolution and 2017 could be that revolution’s year.
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About the Author
Chris Shepherd is the co-founder of Fixington. It’s a service which allows customers to find tradesmen online via their website and a calendar which allows tradesmen to book jobs via an app.