It has become the norm to use multiple channels, such as a retail outlet, smartphone, tablet, and computer or laptop in a single purchasing process. The combination of online and offline channels is a particular success factor for all products in which haptics play a major role.
The omnichannel approach is to provide the same information and services in all channels so that customers can switch seamlessly between channels.
A service that has become widely available is for customers to buy something online and pick it up at a nearby store. This way, customers can try on clothes in the store and return items on site where necessary. This service is also known as BOPIS (buy online, pick up in store).
A concept that is not used as widely yet is identification via beacons in the store. This allows sales staff to identify registered users and provide more personalised advice in store. Let’s look at a possible situation: a sales assistant is alerted to an item on the wishlist or in the shopping basket from the online channel as soon as the customer enters the store. The identification is carried out via a smartphone app. This will result in guaranteed proactive sales advice on those items for this specific customer. It allows for the implementation of concepts such as cross-channel reclamation of shopping cart cancellations in line with the omnichannel approach.
Intrigued by the omnichannel approach? Find more information about omnichannel.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial intelligence is all the rage right now. Many companies are currently test-driving artificial intelligence services. However, there is also a lot of controversy about the subject. Some see artificial intelligence as the next big driver of growth, others fear that it might one day replace humans altogether.
We are convinced that artificial intelligence is going to change the way companies interact with customers. Mind you, it takes more than just technology to make services intelligent.
It takes courage to break new ground. It takes preparedness to do a deep dive into customer journeys and the data streams behind them, and it requires a whole new kind of cooperation within project teams. If all angles are considered, a solution will emerge that supports users on their journeys. Only then do we truly live up to the root of the term “intelligence”, which stems from the Latin term “intellegere”, to “understand”. It is not enough to just have a machine collect and analyse data and deduct actions based on that. It always takes a human being with a vision, someone who understands correlations and can draft scenarios.
Consumers have high expectations regarding availability, usability, customisation, interaction and content. At the same time, digitalisation has caused an explosion in the volume of data that can be collected at the various digital touchpoints along the customer journey. These two developments boost the use of marketing technologies that help marketers analyse the data and draw the right conclusions for effective marketing activities. More and more of these applications also use machine learning models. They help marketers interpret the data generated along the customer journey better, faster and more exactly.
Marketers’ three main areas of interest in machine learning can be clustered into three areas: predicting behaviours, anticipating needs, and hyper-personalising messages. The overarching goal of machine learning in marketing is personal, tailored and seamless interaction with the consumer.
Find more information on artificial intelligence and intelligent user interfaces.
Another ongoing trend: The separation of the front end and the channel-based customer-facing design from the commerce engine for processing is becoming increasingly popular. This separation allows both layers to focus on the appropriate key aspects. Changes in the design can be planned, implemented and rolled out independently from changes in the process. That way, when using multiple channels such as mobile apps, online shops or in-store devices, the design can be customised for every output channel. The same commerce processes can be used across channels because they are provided by the same application.
The added value for the customer is self-evident: They can access the same information – orders, shopping cart, wishlists – in every channel. The design and layout of the services are specific to the point of contact. On a smartphone, the information is adapted to a smaller screen size and looks slightly different than on a desktop computer, where more space is available. In the future, it will also be possible to connect voice-command devices with the commerce application, for instance, to have it read out the wishlist.
A headless approach also makes sense in content management. Contents are recorded regardless of the design and can be rendered differently to the various output channels. The flexibility in rendering is similar to the headless approach in commerce.
Combining Headless Commerce and CMS
Another interesting variant is a combination of headless commerce and headless CMS. Using the best of both worlds, this is an ideal variant allowing for personalised interaction with the customers at various touchpoints using the same contents and information. This can be enhanced with microservices, adding special functionality with the same look and feel.
Would you like to learn more about headless? Find more information about headless.
4. Social Commerce
For many consumers, influencers and social media posts are the first port of call when looking for inspiration and information. Whether you are looking for the latest fashion trends or the perfect outfit, want to redecorate your flat or are just browsing: large, beautiful images and video content are perfectly suited to compelling product presentation.
Social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest have started integrating native e-commerce features into their platforms. Brands and retailers can tag or link their products in images. When a user taps a tag, they can buy the product directly via the platform. Currently, Instagram still links to the external online shop for the brand or retailer, but they are already working on native integration of the entire checkout and purchasing process. Users will then be able to buy, pay for and return goods within the Instagram app. They will not have to leave the platform to shop – which is a threat to all retailers who are not active and visible on the relevant social media platforms.
5. E-commerce in the B2B Market
They say the B2B market lags behind the B2C market by about five years – but it is catching up. Modern and digital e-commerce solutions in the B2B sector are becoming increasingly relevant and important. After all, orders are still handled personally here. It is still very common for people to order from a physical catalogue or over the phone, with or without personal contact. Transformation towards digital channels will create efficiency gains in order processing and will free up resources to better manage the essential relationship between the sales team and the customer.
Many online shops in B2B still feel outdated, dusty and unattractive – surprisingly so, because it is also humans who use these platforms, and they, too, prefer good design, optimised usability and a well-thought-out user experience. In the B2B market, you are dealing with professional purchasers who often handle large volumes, and they and their needs deserve special attention – they deserve to be in focus. Professional purchasers have high expectations regarding the shop itself, as well as product data and order processing. However, if you provide a good solution, there are great opportunities and possibilities for companies. Also, services can be offered more efficiently in the digital realm and further increase customer loyalty.
Is e-commerce in B2B where your heart is at? Would you like to learn more? Visit our expert page on e-commerce.
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 listed here – from e-commerce in B2B/B2C and omnichannel commerce to issues around headless. We have been implementing e-commerce and e-business projects for over 20 years. Why not get in touch? Together, we can identify how these trends are relevant to you, and turn them from a dream of the future into a tangible reality. Our experts look forward to hearing from you!
Our white paper on SAP Commerce presents various scenarios on how to integrate SAP applications into your e-commerce solution. Download now!
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