Excitement in E-Commerce – A Look at 5 Potential Sources of Excitement
The modern world likes to classify companies as winners and losers, and the winner takes it all. Coming second just means being the first of the losers, and often a struggle against insignificance. This is most obvious with the GAFAs: Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are by far the leaders in various markets. Who even remembers the second-largest search engine, the second-largest social network, or the second-largest host? That is right – no-one.
Nevertheless, every single company must constantly question itself. How will I still manage to excite my customers tomorrow? The problem with this is that one day we are thinking about a feature and considering it impossible. By the next day somebody has managed to turn the impossible into reality and astonished us all. By the day after that, we have become used to it. What was previously considered impossible has now become a constant companion. It has become the norm, and clearly I can no longer stand out from the crowd with something normal.
And by the way, this is nothing new at all. Web 2.0. In his new book, pioneer Tim O'Reilly writes that history does not repeat itself, but it moves in clearly recognizable rhythms. Cars, radios, TV, phones, and ultimately the Internet used to be unforeseeable in their present form. At first they amazed us, and then they became the most normal things in the world. Even in the past, companies that were unable to adapt continuously to changing conditions, to re-invent themselves, and to arouse new enthusiasm among their customers rapidly disappeared from the scene.
So what is different in 2018? Why are we talking so much about (digital) disruption now? Because the rate of change has reached an unprecedented level and constantly continues to increase. The field of artificial intelligence provides a good example. Whereas chess computers have already been considered unbeatable for several years, the same was not expected to occur for the Asian game Go for at least 20–30 years. The options were too many and the demand for computing power and memory too great. And yet by using self-learning algorithms, AlphaGo was able to score a convincing victory over the world’s greatest Go player by 2016.
Excitement in E-Commerce
This trend can also be seen in e-commerce. In 2000, even having an online shop and making products publicly accessible on the Internet was considered extremely progressive. At the same time, weak product presentation, optimization for a single browser, and even delivery times of a few weeks were considered acceptable.
By 2010, online shops were already state of the art and widely accessible. Yet another online shop was no longer a big deal. The expectations regarding delivery conditions had also shifted considerably. Since smart mobile devices were now available, vendors were able to score extra points with early adopters by providing a specially optimized version or an adaptive version.
By 2020, not even this will be enough. Even today we see a requirement for responsive web design in almost every product requirements document. Of course, it is important to reach customers with various mobile devices, but that has become a matter of hygiene, and far from a cause for excitement. How do I reach my customers today? What do they expect from the customer journey? How can I really inspire them? We do not know either but we have a few ideas.
An online shop is just one conceivable interface for electronic commerce. According to various studies, mobile devices are already the most important channel within online platforms. Nevertheless, these platforms are still primarily developed for traditional desktop devices. But in addition to mobile versions, there are other promising approaches for specific customer touchpoints:
- Native applications: This alternative directly on the smartphone is a bit of an oldie among the alternative channels. However, it is important that is does not merely act as the online shop in a different guise. It needs to provide added value for the customer by using the device’s native capabilities, such as the phone book, push notifications, augmented reality, or the accelerometer. Here the key issue is to inspire customers so that they do not simply forget the application after installation.
Excitement potential: Low–medium
- Voice skills: Many analysts consider voice to be the most important interface technology of the next decade. Speech is the most natural form of communication for humans. Even so, amazingly few companies so far are investing in ways to enjoy the customer experience through language.
Excitement potential: High
- Chatbots: Already completely normal in China, but still largely undiscovered in the Western world. Because of their conversational nature, chats have the potential to digitalize the good old shopping situation between retailer and customer. The bot has access to the entire history and preferences of the customers and, by using artificial intelligence, can hopefully ask the right questions to suggest relevant products.
Excitement potential: Really High
- Internet of Things: More and more companies are making intelligent products. These regularly send home information about their own statuses. According to studies, by 2020 more than 80% of new vehicles will be equipped with intelligence. This allows problems to be identified, communicated, and resolved before they even occur. In this case, this is even a win–win situation for customers and suppliers.
Excitement potential: High
Alternative Delivery Methods
Since Amazon’s very early flirtation with drones for immediate order delivery, they are a good example of the great profusion of new ideas and technologies. Today, one of the last real preserves of brick-and-mortar retailing is the feeling of being able to experience products personally and immediately take them home. Anyone who can make products available anywhere for a private fashion show, making sure that the appropriate sizes are available and using avatars with AI and voice functions to provide the best advice, could well go down in history as the final nail in the coffin of brick-and-mortar retailing.
Excitement potential: High
(but beware: this excitement will rapidly fade!)
Spryker enables Excitement
Spryker was developed in the context of continuous change. In the 100 days from kickoff to launch, our ambitious task in the venture-capital environment is to be able to try out new business models. The result is a product that practically invites operators to try new things. A chatbot in a few days? No problem! A new form of product presentation to give customers the best advice? Yes, please! A fully automated order-fulfillment process?
Excitement potential: Absolutely!
We are excited about the new possibilities, and it is about time that your customers get excited again too. If not now, then when?
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