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Sarah UKFast | Account Manager

The Future of eCommerce

18 October 2018 by Jenn Granger

The UK eCommerce industry has become so successful in recent years we’ve been described as a world leader in the field.

With popular British-born businesses such as notonthehighstreet and ASOS dominating the online marketplace, there is no doubt the industry will continue to flourish as we head into the final months of 2018 and beyond.

With that in mind, what does the future hold for online retailers and how are consumers driving its evolution?

In a recent UKFast Webinar, our Managing Director Jonathan Bowers was joined by three industry specialists to discuss how consumer trends are pushing forward the world of online shopping.

Our guest speakers were:

  • Sean Brown, Founder of Mercarto
  • Simon Wharton, Business Strategy Director of PushON
  • Leon Calverley, Founder of Door4

Consumer Behaviour is Driving Change

Personalisation, efficiency and speed are the underlying consumer desires driving trends in eCommerce. Shoppers want a bespoke experience and a smooth process that’s as quick and convenient as possible.

Personalisation is undoubtedly responsible for the rise in the amount and scope of data being collected, as companies attempt to collect enough personal data to tailor communications to their customers and manufacture bespoke experiences.

According to Simon, it’s important to capture users’ data in a way that is acceptable to them and use it properly to provide a personalised experience.

Simon said: “Personalisation is about capturing just enough data not to get in the way, then thinking about what a customer wants. Use this data to make reasonable guesses and suggestions about further products a user may want, and to make sure that what you display to a user is relevant to them. Businesses are missing huge opportunities by failing to cover the basics.”

Influencer marketing, mobile commerce and social shopping are having their moment in 2018. Our desire for convenience means most of us are ditching the desktop as our channel of choice, and we’re more likely to buy if we see our Instagram idols promoting a product they love.

As Sean puts it: “Businesses are using influencer platforms to develop the relationship between business and consumer in terms of brand identity and connection. It allows for a wider reach because every follower of the influencer already identifies with them as a person, so using an influencer to talk about your product means that all their followers are now identifying with your product by proxy. It’s a powerful tool and gives an outside perspective of your proposition.”

The need for efficiency and speed is forcing more businesses to think about automation of core processes – to give users the best experience possible and add value to their business.

Chatbots and AI are coming into play to answer simpler support questions, but, according to Leon, consumers have a long way to go before they get comfortable with speaking to a chatbot to make a purchase.

That being said, just like social media or happily giving your name and address to companies for the sake of a personal experience, we’re sure talking to a robot will become less scary and more normal in the near future. After all, how many of us already chat to Alexa or an Amazon Echo on a daily basis?

The Future

One of our experts has a very specific vision for the future, combining data, automation, machine learning and, above all, efficiency. We’ll leave you with this snapshot into 2050 from Sean:

“I envision a world where we can turn to Alexa and say ‘I need a dog crate’ and it comes within hours. Where Alexa knows what crate I want, goes to a supplier, makes a purchase and it gets delivered the same day. It’s exactly what I want because the machine has listened to multiple data sources like social media, so it knows what breed and age my dog is, the design of crate I like, my demographic and so on.

“For me this would be amazing because its convenience mixed with efficiency, but for other people it’s creepy because they don’t want something scanning their accounts for their colour preferences.”

Hmm, genius or creepy, that’s for us all to decide.

Consumer needs are certainly taking the eCommerce industry onwards and upwards, we can’t wait to see what innovations are around this time next year!

To find out more about the consumer revolution, watch the FREE on-demand webinar