More and more, we transact and interact online, and nowhere does this shift become more evident than in eCommerce. As new social media and eCommerce platforms make advancements and transform the lives of businesses and consumers, our approach to brands and the purchases we make online will change in ways from the obvious to the surprising. Here are four emerging e-commerce innovations, and how they’ll change the way you do business.
1. Collaborative Commerce
Increasingly, companies are finding themselves working together more closely, often unexpectedly. No sooner do you sign a contract than you find yourself working with a suite of different businesses with large suites of apps. Groupware — software designed to facilitate collaboration can help, but if a single-person business signs up to work with a 60-person company, it might not be a workable solution. So websites are springing up allowing anybody from a project manager down to a small shop owner to work together to create and buy the best possible product.
What this will do is much more closely involve everyone, even the customer. Imagine a world where a customer downloads an app that allows him to hire a designer, commission a custom manufacturing house, and then pay for the finished product. Believe it or not, it’s already happening.
2. Smart Kiosks
We’ve all been to a grocery store and used the self-checkout lane. But in a few short years, we’ll be using kiosks to do everything from pay library fines to buy a few magazines from a stand in an airport. The problem was that in previous implementations, smart kiosks were intended to replace cashiers, but it was quickly discovered that people preferred talking to and interacting with a person. So instead, these kiosks will be used to cut down on lines so cashiers can work with customers who need to return an item or have a question. They will speed up times and improve customer service. Mobile payments will be a huge driver for this form of electronic payment tech.
3. Mobile Payments
Mobile payments are still in their infancy: Google, Facebook, Apple, and other companies are building the infrastructure and trying to get customers more comfortable with the idea of using their phones to buy items in the store. But once the general public gets over that reluctance, allowing a customer to pay for something can be as simple as having him send you a text message or scan a QR code, thus triggering an automated system that fulfills the order and gets it to his door as quickly as possible. The day is not so far away when many customers will use mobile payments exclusively. Instead of a five-step process, it will be a simple “Pay” button, making purchases easier and customers happier in less time.
4. Same-Day Fulfillment
Some of the biggest problems e-commerce currently faces are the laws of time and space. True, shipping networks have becoming stunningly efficient, but websites still lose business to other companies, simply due to convenience. This is why Redbox still holds a slight advantage over Netflix (in my book).
That may not be true for long. Amazon.com recently chose to stop fighting attempts to collect sales tax on its transactions. This is because it’s seeking to build a network of warehouses that will erase any sort of delay in order fulfillment. Instead of buying something and waiting, you’ll buy something and it will be waiting at your house when you get home, or delivered right to your hands. (Read about this ambitious effort here.)
This subtle change might be the most disruptive one in e-commerce. Imagine a moment when your product is sitting in an enormous network of warehouses, and the minute a customer pays on your site, the product rockets out the door and heads straight to him: truly a Jetson’s like experience
This would level the playing field, and even if you couldn’t take advantage of the warehouse network, it would still speed up fulfillment: After all, fewer packages can mean quicker package runs. It won’t happen tomorrow, but it’s coming soon. That’s the way it is with the future: eCommerce revolutions are much closer than you think.
Jordan Foutz is the Director of Marketing for Pinnacle Cart and loves eCommerce, the web, and helping Pinnacle Cart merchants sell the lights out with Pinnacle’s shopping cart hosting. You can also follow Jordan on Google+Back to the Pinnacle Cart Homepage