A businessman using a crystal ball to predict the future of his business' ecommerce outlook
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This is the final part in a 4 part series on customer experience, sponsored by Contentserv.

Digital innovation. Changing customer expectations. Growing competition. With so many fast-moving parts, eCommerce businesses must always be ready for the next best thing. In fact, from data to personalization to product experiences, the next best thing is already here. Simultaneously, competitors are entering the space easier and faster than ever, and eCommerce businesses are having to look for new ways to stand out to tech-savvy consumers.

To help you keep up with some of the biggest changes, we’re sharing our three most important predictions for the future of eCommerce, and how you can come out ahead for each one.

Related Article: Five Reasons Why Fantastic Customer Experiences Start with Great Product Content

1. The Data Deluge Won’t Let Up

The amount of data generated by consumers and their devices will continue to snowball at a fast and furious pace. In fact, IDC predicts that the amount of data generated worldwide will grow from 33 zettabytes in 2018, to 175 zettabytes by 2025.

Every time someone clicks, taps, shakes or swipes, they’re leaving behind valuable data that gives you insights into their buying habits and interests. That’s the good news. The more data you have, the better you can serve customers with personalized, relevant experiences.

However, as we’ve seen with the General Protection Regulation Law (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act, the number of regulations around how we use this data are growing. Not only does this mean you need to keep up with all the regulatory changes, but you need to make sure your product content is engaging enough to keep the right data flowing toward both the consumer and back to you. For instance, with requirements for double opt-in, producing content that makes buyers want to opt in to your content is critical to getting them to share their data with you.

Along with solid governance practices, a product experience management platform (PXP) can help you connect and manage all of your data, whether it comes from your CRM, product information management (PIM) platform, web analytics, and even external sources like suppliers. That way you can be sure you’re using data to deliver product experiences that command more clicks and conversions than the competition.

Related Article: 4 Ways AI Helps Customers Discover the Perfect Product

2. AR Will Push the Limits of Personalization

Recommending products based on past purchases, as well as personalizing product images and content to match buyer interest will go a long way in connecting with consumers today. But emerging technologies like augmented reality (AR) are already making a huge impact on eCommerce because they allow online consumers to test products before they buy. This helps consumers make more informed buying decisions and increases trust in your brand.

Here are some examples: Instead of imagining how that leather couch will look in your living room, AR can help you see exactly how it fits next to your coffee table, in front of your bookshelves, or anywhere else in the room you’d like to try — all from your mobile phone.

Think those new jeans or sneakers are right for you? With AR, you can step into a virtual dressing room and find out for yourself without crossing your fingers and hoping your online order fits.

However, these kinds of customer experiences can only happen if your product information is in order. To keep up with changing technologies, you need to be sure your product information is accurate, complete, and is supported by a solid infrastructure. You also need to understand how products relate to each other so you can recommend the best combination of colors, sizes and styles in the exact moment that users are engaging in an AR environment.

Related Article: 4 Ways to Connect Your Product Information with Customer Experience

3. AI Will Help You Deliver the Perfect Product Experience

According to Gartner, artificial intelligence is the technology that will have the most impact on commerce in the future. Their analysts say AI will predict and initiate at least five percent of digital commerce orders by 2022. And, according to PWC, 48 percent of businesses expect their AI investment to grow revenue and increase profits, while 46 percent say AI will create better customer experiences.

But with so much data (see prediction #1), eCommerce businesses will need a lot of help to manage and use it to deliver the personalized product experiences that compel consumers to buy. The AI capabilities of a product experience platform can help. With a PXP, you can manage consumer data at the product level, helping you make better use of the data gathered by personalization software and other systems. This allows you to recommend products around moods and interests, rather than simply on demographic and buying behaviors.

AI can also help you personalize product images and content so they’re more relevant to individual consumers. And finally, with AI working behind the scenes to automatically recommend bundled products, services and experiences, you can solve consumer problems instead of simply presenting them with products. This shows them that you understand their needs, building trust and customer loyalty.

The Right Foundation for a Brighter eCommerce Future

Making the leap to better eCommerce experiences starts with having the right foundation in place. Just as traditional advertisers adopted new solutions to shift to digital, eCommerce businesses need to do the same to keep up with growing competition and never-ending innovation. Keeping your customers front and center will help you stand out in the volatile eCommerce space, and a product experience platform will keep you ready for the next best thing.

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