5 Trends to Look Forward to in 2018
The Commerce trends of Spryker experts
1. The Downfall of the Stand-Alone Online Shop
2018 will displace the monocracy of the desktop online shop. Businesses will have to dismiss the concept that a simple online shop is all you need to reach customers.
In B2C, Voice Commerce in particular will play an increasingly important role. Amazon Alexa, Apple's Siri und Google Assistant demonstrate how straight forward it is to establish Voice Commerce in people's homes. Now companies have to seize the chance to position themselves in this channel. One of the first steps to tackle, is to optimize onsite search for Voice Commerce. Most enterprises already maintain a fully-fledged database for written search enquiries. Voice Commerce builds on natural language processing of spoken search commands for products and other questions.
For B2B businesses, smart IoT apps will become more and more relevant. Re-ordering has become intuitive through integrated sensors to measure stock levels and simple dash buttons for purchases. This keeps existing customers much more loyal than requiring them to place repeat orders through desktop and mobile shop apps.
2. Innovate or Die
For me, the rules of large platform providers such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook have prevailed in almost any industry by now. Those rules are not only fundamentally changing common business models- moving away from vertical and horizontal trading models- but they have also influenced the way companies are structured and managed. Platforms dictate a rapid speed in innovation and create a market that can no longer be managed through standard strategy tools, such as the SWOT analysis.
The only way to remain relevant to customers, is to be innovative and bold. Essentially, this means that as a company, any team has to make risky decisions every day. From my point of view, this is the only chance to be and remain innovative. The alternative entails an inevitable exit from the market. Innovate or Die.
3. Blockchain Turns Into a Household Name
Blockchain is no longer just a concept for techies. As the underlying Bitcoin technology, it has become the foundation of a well-recognized payment method, driven by the integration of retail brands like Overstock.com in 2015. And this is just the beginning.
Different use cases for the incorruptible digital ledger have entered the market. A growing number of startups and corporates integrate Blockchain into solutions that go beyond changing everyday life in the Western world. One of these use cases is the smart contract created in Blockchain. This type of contract can replace a one-time agreement or even assign user rights for specific time periods, for example for a shared vehicle.
Some of the industries that will benefit most from Blockchain technology are financial services, currency exchange and logistics as well as identity management on the user side. The fact that Blockchain solutions operate on the basis of publicly available, and meticulously recorded changes, makes it one of the most exciting and world-changing technologies in 2018.
4. Personalization through AI
Everyone is talking about customer-centric approaches. Offering significant value to the customer beyond pricing, is becoming more and more relevant for both, B2C, and B2B companies. The consumer wants to be entertained, supported professionally and save time while doing so.
For the time being, personalized conversations in most shopping platforms are limited to recommendations for up-selling and cross-selling products. The opportunity of retrieving valuable information about the customer and their shopping behaviour, often goes unnoticed. However, this data could easily be used to address the customer in a more customized way, either directly onsite or through marketing channels such as social media or email. Artificial intelligences steps it up a notch. The system learns steadily by observing behavioural patterns and consequently improves customization.
There is plenty of opportunity to optimize customer retention and reactivation through AI. In 2018, innovative businesses still stand a chance to beat Amazon and to get out of the rut of recommending products the customers has bought by before.
5. 3 Steps towards Business Transformation
All these trends have one thing in common: they require constant transformation inside a business.
According to a study in Forbes Insights, 93% of the 900 survey participants are currently going through a transformation, have just finished it or are in the middle of it. How can you tackle this topic without scaring away employees or at worst, implementing changes half-heartedly?
- The first step is inevitably to effectively communicate the vision for transformation. Only if people truly understand what the reasoning behind a change is, they will support it.
- On executing transformation, it is essential to align the right leadership. As right hand of the vision, executives will be crucial in inspiring staff and resolving challenges in a direction that supports the transformation. Richard Branson swears by two principles to change old routines among employees: make bets and break records. To him, this approach broadens horizons, appeals to team spirit and most importantly, makes people have fun on the job.
- Last but not least, a transformation can only succeed if it is unconditionally customer-centric.
Do you need support for these challenges?
Your Spryker Team is happy to help for any queries.
Have a successful 2018!