eCommerce is a young market that has evolved significantly over the past two decades. We’ve already seen many change cycles in the technology that powers online retail, due in large part to the rapid pace of technical innovation and the growing ubiquity of internet access. On top of that, retailers carved an uncharted path to develop an industry from ground zero as shoppers figured out what they want and need from an online retail experience.
Things will continue to evolve, but after more than 20 years of research and experience – and a lot of trial and error – we now have a much better sense of the attributes that will make for an engaging and delightful shopping experience, build loyalty with customers, and ultimately turn a profit for retailers.
When selecting an eCommerce platform that will deliver modern functionality today, and grow with them into the future, online retailers have difficult decisions to make. But based on what we’ve learned as an industry, and where we know we’re headed, those decisions have become a little easier.
Retailers simply need to look for the “5 M’s” driving the industry and ensure they select an eCommerce platform that addresses them.
Here’s what 5 to look for:
1 – Mobile.Can you remember the last time you walked down a street in the U.S. and didn’t see someone on their mobile phone? That’s because ownership and usage of mobile phones is near ubiquitous, and in fact, more than 80 percent of the population regularly uses a mobile phone to access the internet. It’s true that most shoppers still make purchases on a desktop computer, but mobile is key to the overall browsing and shopping experience and will only become more important. As this shift continues, a mobile-first mentality is critical when building an eCommerce site.
2 – Machine Learning.This form of artificial intelligence (AI) might sound like science fiction, but it’s already a part of everyday life for many of us. Whether you’re using voice recognition in your car, or relying on your favorite music streaming service to recommend songs, machine learning is at work behind the scenes. This technology is also being applied to many areas of eCommerce, ranging from fraud detection, to product recommendations, to back-end functions used to balance server loads during peak periods. Many of these things are too complex for humans to handle on their own, making AI and machine learning the only viable solution for a modern and high-performing eCommerce site.
3 – Modular.We have a good idea about where eCommerce is headed and what retailers and shoppers will want, but new technology that will impact the shopping experience will continue to be introduced. Retailers, and the technology they use to build their sites, need to be flexible and ready to adapt. Building sites on a modular platform on which technology can be added or altered without a waterfall effect that impacts the rest of an operation is essential to future-proofing a site so it’s built to last.
4 – Merchant-Centric.Loading a site with the latest, cutting-edge technology sounds great, but if it’s too complicated for merchants to actually use, what’s the point? There are two sides to an eCommerce site – the front-end that the shopper sees, and the back-end that the merchant uses every day to do their job. The end goal is obviously to make the best shopping experience for the customer, but technology that’s not built with the merchant in mind will make that a challenging, if not impossible, task.
5 – Multichannel.If there’s one key lesson that we’ve learned since the advent of eCommerce, it’s that technology will be engrained in the retail experience. There’s no way to separate the worlds of online retail and in-store shopping, and the lines that once existed between them are becoming forever blurred. Retailers of all sizes and in all industries need to acknowledge this, especially when they’re selecting a technology platform on which to grow. Multichannel, or at least the opportunity to easily add multichannel features in the future, needs to be part of the equation.
By keeping these five key attributes in mind, and seeking a platform that can address them, retailers will put themselves in the best position possible to delight their customers and solidify their future success.
If you want to learn about a platform that can delivers on these attributes – and more – contact us to talk about ncommerce.