As entrepreneurs and consumers, we are standing on the precipice of a new era of eCommerce — one informed by new technologies, innovations, and ideas. The journey from brick-and-mortar to the current online marketplace has been incredible, but that journey is far from over.
Many dynamic factors are coming into play in the modern age of eCommerce. “If you are running a business in this industry, you need to have a vision for where you want to go with it,” says Alex Fedotoff, founder of eCommerce Scaling Secrets.
Fedotoff started from a bedroom in his parents’ home in Ukraine and built a multi-million dollar eCommerce empire based on his personal ethos of consistent evolution. As he states on his website, “Unlike many people in the space, that get a small success in one thing and they try to position themselves as an expert on a subject who’s made it, I do what I preach and never stop evolving.”
As the paths of online and offline commerce continue to cross, emerging technologies and ideas will continue to disrupt the traditional model. What lies ahead in eCommerce is limited only by imagination and guided by leaders in the space, such as Fedotoff.
The rise of AR and AI in eCommerce
The immersive technologies of augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are reshaping the traditional boundaries of digital commerce by providing consumers with an interactive shopping experience. In addition, the technologies are giving eCommerce professionals greater avenues with which to sell their products.
Through augmented reality, consumers can visualize their products in real-world situations before making their purchase decisions, creating a bridge between in-store and online shopping. AR can also transport shoppers to virtual stores and allow them to explore products as if they were browsing and testing products in person.
AR and VR have opened doors for people to “try before they buy,” significantly enhancing consumer engagement for brands. “As consumers seek more personalized and engaging shopping experiences, the rise of AR and VR in eCommerce will revolutionize how we shop,” says Fedotoff.
Conversational commerce and AI-powered customer service
We have entered an age where most of us have run across a chatbot on a website that pops up and asks if we need any help or if we have any questions. Conversational commerce and AI-powered customer service have emerged as a formidable force changing how companies engage with their customers.
By leveraging messaging apps, chatbots, and AI-powered interfaces, eCommerce businesses can facilitate real-time customer interactions that more closely resemble speaking to a real person. As a result, customers are more satisfied with the interaction, with their questions answered and a good feeling about the brand as a whole.
Today’s AI-powered customer service programs can utilize natural language processing and sentiment analysis to provide human-like support to customers. Through machine learning, AI programs can search common themes and customer inquiries, becoming more intelligent and helpful over time.
Essentially, the longer a business relies on AI-driven customer service, the better it becomes. Recent research has shown that customers like chatbots, especially when it means they can avoid sitting on the phone for a long time only to have one question or concern addressed.
Blockchain technology for enhanced security
As eCommerce becomes the standard for consumer behavior, security will become paramount as more consumers want to know that their personal and financial information is safe. A data breach can be a complete crisis for an online store, with significant financial implications.
“While shopping online is becoming second nature, in most cases, security and earning the consumer’s trust is still important,” offers Fedotoff.
Many online retailers have started utilizing blockchain technology for enhanced security, as the decentralized technology creates an immutable digital ledger that records transactions, creating a secure chain. Once data is added to the blockchain, it’s nearly impossible to alter, and it’s almost completely invulnerable to fraud or digital hacking.
As eCommerce moves into the advanced digital era, entrepreneurs will need to learn the ropes and be prepared to pivot to scale and sustain their businesses.
“The main reason I’ve achieved success is thanks to online marketing and the opportunities it provides. It’s amazing to think that nowadays, with just a laptop and a phone, you can make money from anywhere in the world, something that wasn’t possible 30 or 40 years ago,” Fedotoff told Partnerkin, “To do it right, you’ve got to take it seriously. If you promise something, deliver on it. And if you can’t, find someone who can.”
For sustainable eCommerce growth, one’s approach must be strategic and include the available tools. For instance, the online storefront must be user-friendly and consumer-centered, with a seamless checkout experience and quick, helpful customer service programs. Additionally, product offerings should be regularly updated, and the product interface should be easy to navigate.
Adapting to consumer preferences and changes in technology is critical for success in scaling and maintaining an eCommerce presence. In this rapidly evolving digital landscape, those who embrace change and innovation and remain open to learning will be the ones to ultimately thrive.
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