5 Types of Technology Improving Online Shopping

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that successful businesses have to know how to pivot fast. Sales and marketing plans need contingencies, and alternate routes to bigger goals have to be explored as soon as an unexpected trend emerges.

E-commerce revenue grew by almost 20% in the U.S. in 2020, and the trend continues globally. Borders have been blurred as hundreds of millions of new consumers, who never shopped online before, hit the e-commerce scene.

These trends are here to stay. Consumers who are new to e-commerce and those who’ve bought online for years have little need today to queue up at the checkout in brick-and-mortar stores. The gaps between the online experience and the in-store one (like trying garments on or seeing a product in its intended environment) have been closed now with new technologies

E-commerce technology is changing as fast as today’s consumer expectations, and it’s clear that they’re mutually fueling one another.

Using these five key technologies in e-commerce, a brand can meet customer expectations and stand out from the competition with some of the most exciting opportunities to have ever hit the market.

1. Augmented and virtual reality

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) have made online shopping incredibly interactive. Not too long ago, these technologies would have been a thing of science fiction. Today, e-commerce brands are using them to further bridge the in-person and online buyer journey.

With AR and VR, consumers can now virtually try on products. They can place furniture within its intended environment, check size and colors. They can even play with the layout of furniture in that condo they want to buy.

The AR market alone is projected to reach $2.4 billion by 2023. E-commerce marketers today will actively look at how to apply this tech to their own buyer journey. Keep reading for even more marketing trends in e-commerce tech.

2. CRMs (and the customer experience)

E-commerce brands connect with consumers through multiple sales and marketing channels. Online marketplaces, e-commerce websites, social media, messengers, chatbots, and email are some of the most prominent touchpoints.

To keep up with all those interactions, customer relationship management (CRM) technology has developed new tools and capabilities to help brands create meaningful and personalized interactions. The CRM market was valued at $40.2 billion in 2019, and by 2027 is expected to grow to $116.29 billion, almost tripling in eight years.  

New integrations to automate and synchronize customer data in CRMs have boosted brands’ operational efficiencies by improving order fulfillment and overall communications. This has enabled brands to meet one of the biggest consumer expectations today: instant replies on any channel they choose. Without a modern CRM in place, no e-commerce brand would be able to keep up.

3. PIM software (and the buyer journey)

Product information management software (PIM) is another technology that’s fundamentally changed what e-commerce brands can do. Today’s buyer journey has been shaped by the streamlined versioning of product data that’s made possible by PIM solutions.

For example, 75% of shoppers today browse for items online while shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. About one-third of those shoppers start their searches on Google, and almost two-thirds go straight to Amazon. They’re price-checking against what they see on the shelf because they expect products to be available on multiple channels.

PIM software makes it possible for a brand to optimize product data, so consumers have consistent, complete, and accurate information on products anywhere they turn. Brands that aren’t on multiple selling channels yet face the prospect of making that change now or getting left behind. Brands selling on just two channels instead of one, for instance, see an average 190% jump in revenue along with increased customer loyalty.

Listing on multiple marketplaces or sales channels comes with logistical challenges, which brings us right back to PIM technology. Keep reading to make your own cost-benefit analysis of selling on multiple marketplaces and to learn more about how PIM simplifies multichannel success.

4. Chatbots

Chatbots are programs installed on messengers and websites that simulate human conversation. They respond instantly to resolve consumer questions on your behalf.

Whether today’s consumer expectations took to the “instant response” notion first or chatbots fed that expectation, it’s hard to tell. It’s one of the chicken-and-egg mysteries of e-commerce. Whatever the origin, 82% of consumers today say they expect instant replies to sales or product questions. Chatbots help brands meet that need by using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create a personalized answer for any query.

To use AI, chatbots need very specific rules based on 100% accurate product data.
For example, a chatbot with the best set of accurate and optimized product data will be able to answer consumer questions about your whole product catalog with precise and complete answers. The alternative is to allow the chatbot to disappoint with an “I don’t know,” or—worse—give inaccurate product information.

Fortunately, pointing to one of the technologies mentioned earlier, PIM software makes the aggregation and “clean-up” of product data a lot easier.

5. Voice search

Mobile device and smart speaker users have become increasingly comfortable with voice search. Greater adoption is on the rise with almost one-third of internet users having used voice search to shop online.

E-commerce brands can use voice search strategies when updating their SEO to include natural speech syntax in photo alt tags and product information. Product listings can also include more audio-rich product data so voice readers can easily give users the answers they want.
Using these five technologies, the buyer journey for any e-commerce brand can be improved to meet and exceed today’s consumer expectations. E-commerce is more competitive than ever with new players on the field, and brands that want to stay on top can implement this remarkable tech to do it.

Author Bio

Alex Borzo

The following blog was written by guest author Alex Borzo, a content contributor at Amber Engine, a software company passionate about e-commerce. The company's fast and simple PIM software gets sellers, distributors, and brands to Amazon and other online marketplaces in weeks instead of months and frees up time and resources to allow e-commerce and marketing professionals to create content that inspires modern discovery shoppers.