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Q&A: The ways tech is driving e-commerce

It is undeniable that the consumer marketplace has been permanently changed by e-commerce. As more companies turn toward e-commerce platforms to shift or diversify their businesses, there is a wide range of technologies that are helping power this change and creating better customer experiences.

To learn more about what is happening, Digital Journal spoke with Jonathan Fries, VP Engineering and Digital Transformation at Exadel, looks at the ways technology is influencing e-commerce activity and shaping the way we buy online.

Digital Journal: What is personalization and how are e-commerce companies using that information to influence buyers?

Fries: A major trend in e-commerce is personalization. E-commerce is unique in that it enables organizations to carry massive amounts of inventory – more than could ever fit on the shelves in a retail location. But this inventory can create difficult or confusing customer journeys – a problem solved by personalization. Today, organizations know a lot about their audiences and individuals that make purchases. With this information, it becomes possible to make refined recommendations for customers.

By using this data and understanding the purchasing habits of customers, e-commerce companies can surface the most relevant product to any given customer at any given time – an incredibly powerful tool for driving conversion.

A great place to start is to focus on segments or audiences and refine from there as more data is gathered. Today there are personalization engines built into some of the big e-commerce platforms organizations, so it is easier than ever to get started.

It is also important to be mindful of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This set of new regulations went into effect on May 25 in the European Union and if an organization sells products in Europe, it applies. Companies should make sure they fully understand the ins and outs of GDPR before embarking into personalization efforts.

DJ: How is technology making it easier for consumers to buy online?

Fries: Another major trend in the world of e-commerce is frictionless checkout. At the end of the day, businesses should make it easy and painless for a customer to purchase from their site or app. While this always has been an important tenet of e-commerce, it’s becoming even more integral in today’s rapidly changing and competitive digital climate.

Amazon’s one-click patent expired last year. So, companies can now employ this one-click technology by using one of the widely accessible plug-in platforms. These trends toward increased simplification of the checkout process will only continue. Today, cart abandonment rates are still very high – a problem that one-click purchasing helps solve.

Another trend taking shape is selling outside the browser. As mobile usage continues to rise all over the world, the way customers engage with websites via mobile devices will be something that continues to garner attention. Some platform tools that offer a way to generate native mobile apps and cross-platform mobile apps from existing online stores. It allows the customer to connect where they expect to meet you — in the App Store.

Beyond mobile e-commerce engagement, there is also growing interest in push button services like Amazon Dash. Amazon offers an unbranded version that can be customized that they call the “IoT Button.” Voice ordering with smart speakers, like Google Home and Amazon Echo, is on the rise as well.

DJ: What are some emerging technologies and global trends impacting the world of e-commerce?

Fries: A more recent innovation that is helping transform e-commerce experience is the combination of blockchain and IoT. The possibility of products being aware of their own state, combined with blockchain to instantly process a transaction, opens new horizons for convenience. Preventative maintenance powered by IoT devices and the security of blockchain, creates massive potential for the future of e-commerce businesses.

Also, the internet has broken down many of the hurdles that made global expansion a challenge. While it’s not as simple as just translating your web content, there are many partners that can help make localization a reality for businesses of all sizes. By growing audiences and reaching new marketplaces, e-commerce technology helps create a more stable business with better opportunities for increasing revenue and profits.

Overall, the trends toward organizations turning to e-commerce as an additional – if not primary – stream of revenue is showing no signs of slowing down. Powered by advancing trends in technology, e-commerce is providing new and innovative ways for customers to interact with brands and make purchases online.

While it’s still hard to imagine a world without brick and mortar retailers, improving online experiences, better personalization engines, and faster buying and shipping capabilities are making the world of e-commerce a driving force in the way goods are bought and sold.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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