The trends and disruptors facing e-commerce

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of e-commerce and there is no turning back. Gartner reported that 86% of marketers believe digital commerce will be the most important sales channel over the next two years.

Ecommerce leaders need a clear maturity roadmap to stay ahead of the competition, add differentiating value for customers, and improve commerce KPIs. Disruptive trends, supply chain issues and the challenge of connecting wherever your customers are will make 2022 an exciting year for commerce.

Transparency and confidentiality

Transparency and traceability are important consumer trends for 2022. From a merchant’s perspective, this translates to embracing and showcasing greater supply chain and fulfillment visibility. As sustainability factors become increasingly influential in consumer purchasing decisions, transparency about product origin and underlying materials is extremely important. Incorporate these data points into the customer experience through the use of filters and influencing results and recommendations to satisfy these trends.

The past few years have seen an increased focus on consumer privacy and data ownership. One of the main tenants of Web 3.0 is ownership and control over how personal data is used. While applications such as cryptocurrency have the most apparent implications for commerce, we also expect impacts on how consumers want to interact with retailers. This would go further than consent to tracking which is common today, but where consumers can also further specify what can be tracked and used about them. This will place even more emphasis on prediction-based technologies that can simply use patterns and context to generate interactions versus technologies that rely on individual user data to generate results.

Smart trigger

Another place where conversational chatbots have a huge opportunity is in solving supply chain issues. E-commerce can alleviate supply chain issues and customer frustration through proactive customer service, which requires all facets of the business to be connected. Customer service teams shouldn’t be surprised when a customer calls to ask where their item is.

With supply chain issues not expected to abate significantly anytime soon, smart push notifications will continue to serve as a powerful tool to minimize customer frustration. These would typically take the form of proactive (eg low stock), reactive (eg back in stock) or even passive notifications such as those communicating the status of an order.

Conversational Selling

E-commerce experiences are shifting from a predominantly one-way dialogue to a two-way, interactive conversation. The same technology that allows chatbots to guide customers through support conversations can be used to guide them to the most relevant products and content. By learning how customers buy, these systems can shorten and facilitate purchases by anticipating and incentivizing through sales scenarios guided by chatbots such as dynamic and personalized product search tools, faceting, navigation, journeys and the results. Guided selling apps could also direct customers to items they didn’t know they needed. In fact, one-third of US shoppers say each visit leads them to buy recommended items they didn’t originally plan to buy.

Using machine learning, conversational apps learn and improve over time to guide users through a personalized conversation. For example, shoppers who recently purchased something might revisit a site to look up shipping information or find instructions on how to use a product. The chatbot can anticipate this using signals based on customer behavior and proactively inform shoppers with information about recently purchased products or additional accessories that are commonly purchased along with the item the shopper recently purchased. More relevant recommendations through conversational sales apps result in higher average order values. Additionally, conversational selling offers a different experience from the traditional browsing and searching that appeals to many consumers.

Chart from Lucidworks Consumer Survey, Summer 2021

Retailer beware: adding a generic chat box to the bottom right corner of your website is not the solution. Smart apps that use machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) mark the difference between an unflattering feature for customers and a truly effective tool that improves and speeds up their buying journey. A recent survey found that 43% of UK shoppers said they thought chatbots rarely or never understood them and, unsurprisingly, the majority of UK consumers (60%) rarely or never use them when shopping online. . Take a step back and assess if your app really measures up before asking it to sell for you.

Improve your customer (and employee) experience

2022 is all about connecting in the moment. Many retailers are doubling down on technology investments and adding core business strategy to technology-related roles and departments. Invest in technology that connects the dots between every part of the experience.

Consider the entire ecosystem of your customers, employees, support agents, and the touchpoints they interact with. These touchpoints can provide a wealth of signals and insights that can benefit your customer-facing channels. They usually know a lot more about your brand and products than consumers do, so why not leverage that? Consider platforms that connect these experiences rather than taking a siled approach.

Delight your 2022 customers wherever they are

Through supply chain and staffing shortages, customers have experienced greater disappointment due to lack of availability of the items they want, the price of the items they want, and the service of the items they want. have. Technologies such as semantic vector search paired with knowledge graphs can help alleviate some of this disappointment and ensure clients achieve their goals.

Traditional search matches search terms to words found in the index. This is a very restrictive way of thinking about how we use search because there is often a disparity between how a product is expressed by the seller and how it is described by the user. This leads customers to irrelevant results or the dreaded “No results” page. Pairing this with knowledge graphs aligned with the areas or categories you sell in can also eliminate the ignorance that search traditionally has. Smarter search that “listens and understands me” is the experience shoppers expect today and, thanks to technology, retailers can make it happen.

Sanjay Mehta is Head of Industry and Commerce at Lucidworks, a cloud-based connected experience solution that connects experiences across the user journey to meet customer and employee intent in the moment.

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