To be successful in e-commerce, you need to keep a constant eye on the changes happening in your own sales and commerce ecosystems. Of course, this includes evaluating wider trends and developments. Let’s take a look at the current technological opportunities in e-commerce and their level of maturity.
If you are already selling products or services in an online shop, you are probably toying with the idea of using alternative sales channels as well. Especially in the age of smartphones and tablets and the mobile commerce that comes with them, according to statistics, online sales on mobile devices are expected to keep increasing. Major shops now have their own apps or have made their websites responsive, optimised for mobile devices – including a simplified checkout process. But mobile or m-commerce is much more than just optimised access to the shop. Payment via your smartphone, or mobile payment, is gaining momentum. Apple Pay and Android Pay wallets are ever-present. Paying with your smartphone – using a credit, debit or EC card and an NFC terminal – has become a standard. What’s new is ordering products from the online shop and confirming the transaction via the saved card or banking app on your smartphone – the request for confirmation is sent in real time and is usually easy to manage with a simple swiping gesture.
Customer flexibility remains the greatest challenge. This is also because customers can compare prices and look for special offers easily while they are shopping. More and more, people tend to browse in store, compare prices and then order online.
Mobile Commerce in B2B
Smartphones and tablets are also in common use in the B2B segment, but the requirements are different than in B2C. More and more companies are doing their research and purchasing on smartphones. But m-commerce providers need to provide product information in greater detail and in an accessible format. The focus shifts to e-commerce solutions for experience platforms, customer portals and surrounding systems such as PIM.
These days, mobile devices and social networks go hand in hand. Social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and TikTok are already shaping social shopping. Why? Here in Germany, the average time spent on social media per day amounts to a substantial 89 minutes. The networks serve as inspiration and as a jumping-off point to the shop or to social e-commerce. For B2B, the LinkedIn business network stands out; marketing and sales use targeting to address their target groups directly. And publicising your offerings on social media is a promising approach: “Two billion people worldwide are already shopping on social media. A social media survey predicts a sales volume in the trillions by 2025”, according to the Forbes newspaper.
Conversational (Voice) Commerce
For now, conversational commerce still only exists on the margins of the customer journey. Many sites do offer an online chatbot but, in my view, not all bots are convincing – especially in terms of artificial intelligence, we still have a long way to go. But still, companies are investing in the promising field of voice commerce. While browsing the shop or researching products, users are encouraged to chat with experts or chatbots. And there is huge potential for companies: 91 per cent of users would like support via a conversational interface while shopping. And live chats can bring the conversion rate up to 82 per cent.
The term “composable commerce” was coined by Gartner in 2020 and refers to the flexibility of a commerce ecosystem. In the future, companies will no longer necessarily rely on huge software suites. Composable commerce relies on modular software components instead. These don’t all have to be from the same provider. Each component provides a specific functionality. To protect themselves from experimental investments, shop operators rely on best of breed – they pick the best solution for every area of application and integrate it into their own IT infrastructure with the aim of fulfilling their own use case with all the connected microservices or business functions in the best possible way.
This enables companies to turn a standard shop into a business intelligence platform – spotting lucrative trends and customer needs early and integrating them quickly into their own commerce landscape. The composable approach is an opportunity to rethink architecture strategies.
MVP – Minimum Viable Product
To reduce their own risk during the development of products or services, companies use the opportunities of the minimum viable product, MPV for short. This way, companies can provide a webshop in a very short time – with only the most basic but fundamental features. Not only does it allow the operator to start doing business very quickly, the MVP software provides real-life feedback to continually improve the platform and enhance it step by step with new features tailored to the target group.
B2B2C – Business to Business to Consumer
B2B2C stands for business to business to customer and describes the business relationships between manufacturers, retailers and consumers. The e-commerce model combines the business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) segments. Manufacturers can grow their own sales network of retail partners in this way. The motto: open up new markets, reach new customers.
Advantages: Industrial and manufacturing companies in particular apply different strategies through innovative multi-platforms and can even scale different expansion levels. One expansion level could be the integration of retailers’ sub-shops that connect to the manufacturers’ systems. Marketplaces and industry-specific purchasing portals are other possible expansion levels.
D2C – Direct to Consumer
Direct-to-consumer sales, D2C for short, describes manufacturers or brands selling their products and services directly to end customers. There are no intermediaries. This means their sales department remains in control of the sales process. Another advantage is the easier management of stock levels. More time and effort usually need to go into logistics, although this is often covered by external service providers.
Many brands and manufacturers lack a direct connection with their end consumers. The D2C strategy opens up a direct channel with the customers for a company – but in turn, you need to address your target groups appropriately. It is the goal of the D2C model to bring down costs and increase profits by cutting out the commission for retailers and the cost of third-party floor space.
What Does the Future Hold and How Can We Support You?
Over the next few years, everything will become even faster, more innovative and more interconnected. Unic is very familiar with the trends above – and B2B and B2C platforms, MVPs and composable commerce are very close to our hearts.
Why not get in touch? Together, we can identify the application scenarios relevant to you. Our experts look forward to hearing from you!
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Are you keen too discuss your digital tasks with us? We would be happy to exchange ideas with you: Jörg Nölke and Gerrit Taaks (from left to right).
Contact for your Digital SolutionBook an appointment
Are you keen to talk about your next project? We will be happy exchange ideas with you: Melanie Klühe, Stefanie Berger, Stephan Handschin and Philippe Surber (clockwise).