Flash sales and private sales hit the eCommerce market with a fury in 2009 and 2010. Some even argue that flash sales remain the most scalable eCommerce business model. However, like all innovations, they either hit a bubble or trickle down in their effectiveness, spawning new and interesting innovations, especially in the eCommerce world. This being the case, many people are wondering what the next new wave of innovation in the eCommerce space will be. Jason Simon, an expert on the subject, answers those questions through clear examples and detailed explanations.
First is mobile location-based selling. “We have already started to see how retailers can use geographic segmentation to trigger an automatic notification when the customer walks near a store. This type of mobile selling is a huge boost for the retail industry, as they can combine the wonders of online and offline shopping,” notes Simon. Since many people are shopping on the go, it is essential to target these people and understand how they shop while sitting on the train, while out to lunch, and even while working.
The first wave of innovation comes in the form of mobile check-ins, where customers check in when they go to certain events, venues, and places of interest. In short, customers receive rewards and benefits when they interact with the real world and have the opportunity to bring the real-world experience into the digital age.
Geographically targeted discounts are also promising, as online businesses could automatically send an automated notification that their online store sells better or cheaper products when the person shops at a competitor or similar store. Explains Simon, “Imagine having an online supplement store and partnering with a gym. When someone checks into the gym, they can receive a discount on their supplements.”
A next innovation would be something similar to one or two-hour delivery, allowing customers to send or receive emergency products or gifts. A “pick up in-store” option is another way to target people based on location, sending them to the nearest affiliate to get an item in a matter of minutes.
One of the biggest hurdles the eCommerce industry has yet to overcome is the fact that people still enjoy the experience of shopping in a physical store. Consumers see it as relaxing, fun, and even a way to socialize with people they haven’t seen in a long time. That leaves eCommerce in the dust, considering there really isn’t anything relaxing, fun, or social about sitting at a computer or on a phone by yourself.
In order to cope with this will most likely come in the form of offline and online merging. Consider the Fire Phone, which uses software so people can scan, scan what they like and then buy it online. This kind of real-world shopping, combined with digital information and purchasing power, is a strong indicator that online shopping is becoming increasingly enjoyable.
Another issue in the eCommerce industry is that consumer data is collected in vast quantities, allowing companies to target those users with upsells, promotions, and cross-sells based on their past shopping trends, social interactions, Internet searches, and even what types of messages to send to their friends and family.
This sounds great for eCommerce companies, but again, it’s another way eCommerce is destroying the shopper experience. There’s something about “hunting” while you shop. Walking into a store with a vague idea of what you want, but having the freedom to try on styles, models, and versions for the simple pleasure of playing with new products.
With hyper-targeted recommendation engines and marketing, the “perfect” products are always being pushed on the consumer, which takes the excitement out of shopping. Netflix and Pinterest are solid examples of companies that understand the need for personalized discovery. They use complex algorithms to recommend media that people may like based on their past interactions. Simon asserts, “It sounds like something new, but they take a step back, employing robust catalogs, user preference pages, personalization options, and even categories that span several different topics, giving the power back to the user, rather than simply telling them the next step they need to take.”
The potential new wave of innovation in eCommerce is exciting and unusual, so everyone in the industry needs to continue to talk about what’s coming next so that the marketplace is prepared for change.