AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), what else?
Most likely, you’ve been bombarded with these and other eCommerce technology trends if you’ve done some serious research on the Internet. They will also show up in this article, but they are not the only innovations in digital commerce we’ll cover.
Today, 63% of companies have an innovation strategy, compared to 57% in 2018.
What about you?
Let’s first discuss why you need it and how emerging technologies reshape online shopping experiences. Afterward, learn how you can leverage them to your benefit. Cover photo by Social Cut.
The Impact of E-commerce Innovations on Customer Experience
New trends and technologies in eCommerce have changed the way customers shop online and feel about it. Discover the most essential advantages they have brought.
- Effective customer engagement
Interactivity spurred by digital modernization allows eCommerce customers to engage with content by taking actions, typically via an entertaining and gamified scenario. They are more involved in interactions with a brand as they act and engage with content.
Interactive video technology, for instance, can help you reach a 6x higher interaction rate and make your customers spend 4x more time in your e-store.
- Convenient product evaluation
Some innovative eCommerce apps are armed with augmented reality and deep-fake technologies for digital try-ons. When shopping online, people can easily see what the item would look like in real-life conditions.
With Sephora’s AR app, customers can try different lip shades pr lash styles and compare and shop the looks.
- Immersive shopping
It became possible, in large part, due to virtual reality – another superb example of innovation in eCommerce. Similar to AR, VR creates an immersive media experience for online buyers and enables pleasant shopping from the comfort of their homes.
Vroom, an online car retailer, created a VR showroom with a 360-degree view of car models.
- Higher personalization level
Here, artificial intelligence comes into play to personalize customer experience in eCommerce. Using real-time data and predictive analysis, AI helps segment the audience, understand the buyer’s behavior, improve targeting, and find the best-fit offers according to customers’ tastes and needs.
- More freedom in payment options
Paysafe reveals that more than half of consumers (52%) ask for more payment options from online businesses.
With the appearance of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies on the eCommerce horizon, brands can diversify payment methods dramatically.
- Faster purchasing and delivery
Today, consumers can buy a product online in one click and get it in hours – all thanks to such eCommerce advancements as single-click checkouts and same-day deliveries.
- Smoothed out self-service
In fact, 67% of people prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.
And that’s when chatbots, voice bots, and virtual assistants stepped up to revolutionize self-service and guide the customer journey.
All these benefits lead to higher customer satisfaction and, ultimately, more sales. But how should you approach eCommerce innovation to enhance customer experience and drive sales?
7 Best Innovations in E-commerce to Improve Online Shopping
Get ready to innovate eCommerce with hands-on practices and tools shared by business leaders.
Ecommerce innovation #1. Marketing and sales automation tools
Sales and marketing automation facilitates online shopping engagement with personalized and curated content and timely communication.
Grab the most innovative tools to help you achieve that:
- For content creation: Wordtune (for texts), Animoto (for videos), AI image generator by Canva (for pictures)
- For social media management: Hootsuite, SproutSocial, BuzzSumo
- For sales and customer relationship management (CRM): HubSpot, Zoho, SugarCRM, or other CRM tools
- For predictive analysis: Google Analytics, Pecan AI, DataRobot
- For email automation: Omnisend, Mailchimp, GetResponse, Drip, Sender
You may follow the example of Eric Mills, Owner of Lightning Card Collection, and try email automation software to enable AI-led personalization in marketing and increase email conversions. Mills says, “Email automation tools supported by AI are indispensable innovations for eCommerce. They streamline email workflows and trigger engaging and attractive personalized emails based on customer’s behavior, delivering them at the right time to the right buyers.”
Here’s a Christmas email from Lightning Card Collection targeted to customers who showed interest in rare Pokémon cards.
Ecommerce innovation #2. AI-driven product recommendations
Have you ever watched movies on Netflix or shopped on Amazon?
If you have browsed both, you might have noticed that these behemoths in the entertainment and online retail industry prepare product recommendations based on your search history, viewing data, ratings, and preferences. Not without the help of AI marketing and AI-powered recommendation systems, in particular. And not without a compelling reason. Personalized products are among the most anticipated eCommerce innovations in 2023 for 47% of Gen Z online shoppers and 46% of Millennials.
“Considering cutting-edge innovations for online commerce, you can easily customize purchasing experiences with AI. The best thing about AI in eCommerce is its impressive potential to cater products and services exactly to the needs and preferences of buyers,” emphasizes Jim Rainey, VP of Growth at CoPilot Search.
For example, CoPilot implemented AI-assisted car shopping. AI algorithms search car dealers in real-time, analyze cars in seconds, and rank them based on the input data from the customer to deliver a personalized result with a profile match percentage.
Ecommerce innovation #3. The evolution of interactive content
Forget about static content.
It bowed and went backstage.
Now, the time has come for interactivity and gamification.
In fact, interactive content engages online buyers by roughly 53% more effectively than static content. And 88% of marketers believe it distinguishes their brands in today’s competitive digital environment.
Michael Maximoff, Co-Founder & Managing Partner at Belkins, is one of them. He claims, “Interactive, often gamified, content is one of the greatest innovative methods to generate and nurture leads and boost conversions in eCommerce business. For the past few years, it evolved from a caterpillar to a beautiful butterfly, enabling hyper-connection between the brand and the customer.”
Belkins, for instance, generates new B2B leads with an interactive ROI calculator on the website.
Michael Maximoff also notes, “Such interactive content types as a quiz or a calculator are only the tip of the iceberg in gamification and interactivity for eCommerce.”
He suggests more innovative and creative content ideas for eCommerce strategies to empower interactions with customers:
- Shoppable videos
- Interactive maps
- Header image sliders
- Before/after visuals
- Product carousels
- 360° VR tours
- Animated infographics
- Spin-to-win wheels
Apolla Performance Wear crafted an interactive landing page with a spin-the-wheel promotion to engage website users and increase email sign-ups.
Ecommerce innovation #4. The rise of chatbots
A chatbot still remains one of the biggest marketing trends.
Statista’s report shows that 24% of eCommerce companies planned to adopt innovative conversational AI bots on their sites already in 2020. As for online shoppers, 68% prefer chatbots because of their instant answers.
Why not let a chatbot assist your customers when they need it the most?
See an example of using a virtual chat assistant by Giesswein.
Customers can select one of the options: availability, size help, discounts/offers, order status, returns, complaints, etc.
However, “You should beware of the dark side of AI chatbots when innovating eCommerce,” mentions Max Wesman, Founder & COO of GoodHire. He explains: “Chatbots may expose online businesses and their customers to threats like data privacy violation, discrimination, or disinformation. For example, a chatbot can use discriminatory language, deliver inaccurate information about your products or services, and give harmful recommendations to your audience.”
Follow these tips to make an ethical and legal-friendly chatbot:
- Pick a chatbot builder (Botsonic, Tidio, KorticalChat, Appy Pie Chatbot)
- Avoid personal bias when “feeding” your chatbot with information
- Refresh and refine the data continuously
- Watch out for cybersecurity threats
- Run regular chatbot tests
- Collect feedback from your customers
Ecommerce innovation #5. Advanced data analytics and sales reports
E-commerce data analytics is the future of customer experience.
And here’s why.
By analyzing eCommerce sales and customer data, you can figure out your buyers’ pain points and preferences and, eventually, brighten up their shopping experiences.
But where should you start?
What if we told you that Excel is your go-to solution?
Despite common misconceptions that Excel is outdated or even dead (long live Excel!), it is still the leading program for data collection, calculation, and analysis, supercharged by advanced features. Puneet Gogia, founder of ExcelChamps, reveals unique AI functionality in Excel you probably didn’t know about:
“Excel is a cheap and flexible solution to propel the innovation of eCommerce analytics. It can easily and quickly help you analyze purchase data and prepare sales reports in eCommerce. How exactly? With its AI functions: Ideas, PivotTable, PivotChart, and Forecast Sheet.”
- Ideas in Excel
This Excel’s AI-powered insights service allows you to ask questions and analyze customer data to understand what consumers want from your online store.
- PivotTable + PivotChart
With these two, you can work with your data visually: create summary reports and draw high-level visualizations.
- Forecast Sheet in Excel
The Forecast Sheet tool helps eCommerce businesses predict inventory requirements, consumer behavior, and future sales.
Make Excel spreadsheets work for you by analyzing sales performance, calculating KPIs, and forecasting your eCommerce growth.
Ecommerce innovation #6. Cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
“Although the finance and banking industry is the cradle of cryptocurrency adoption, many eCommerce shops from various fields have already hopped on the cryptocurrency trend in payments due to lower transaction fees, more rapid transactions, enhanced cybersecurity, transparent operations, and inclusivity for unbanked customers,” explains Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President at altLINE Sobanco.
For instance, Balenciaga, Newegg, Microsoft, and JomaShop, are among the brands accepting cryptocurrencies from their customers. Large eCommerce platforms like Shopify or BigCommerce also allow crypto payments via digital wallets.
The most widely used cryptocurrencies for eCommerce transactions are:
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Ripple (XRP)
- Litecoin (LTC)
- Cardano (ADA)
Some eCommerce companies go even further. They launch blockchain-based reward programs to build customer loyalty with digital tokens used as points, miles, or bonuses.
On top of that, they develop collections of NFTs for purchase. For example, Nike and Dior have already tapped into the Metaverse selling and created their Web3 ecosystems of NFT products and virtual wearables. Look at these NFT sneakers released by Nike in 2022.
Ecommerce innovation #7. Drones and robots for same-day deliveries
Last but not least, such inventions as robots and drones can deliver your products to customers’ doorsteps in hours and improve customer experience in eCommerce.
Here’s why you need to consider a robot or drone delivery, according to Will Ward, Founder at Freight Forwarder:
“With robotics and drone technologies for rapid deliveries, you can develop a win-win strategy for your business and customer success. You get a cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable solution, differentiating you from the crowd. At the same time, your customers enjoy the convenience and swiftness of your delivery service and receive an overall positive experience when purchasing online from you.”
Let’s look at some examples.
Amazon rocked the market with Amazon Prime Air for drone delivery.
Domino’s tested the robot’s skills to win the pizza delivery game to the delight of customers ordering online.
Elevate Online Customer Experience with E-commerce Innovations
Innovation is an unstoppable phenomenon in eCommerce. And you need to catch up with it to stay in the e-business game and thrive, ensuring the best buying experiences possible.
Make your first step into the future of eCommerce with your customers in mind and groundbreaking tech solutions in your hands. Explore original digital creations on FilterGrade and level up your customer experience with after effects, interactive animations, video products, and more!