The online retail environment is poised for evolution in 2019. Numerous external forces, including changing consumer sentiment and technological advancement, are expected to catalyze a number of sector-specific shifts for which ecommerce organizations of all sizes must prepare. Here are some of these developments and how they might affect technology-savvy sellers over the next dozen months:
Enterprise artificial intelligence technology has gained considerable steam in recent years, transforming from an experimental asset into an actionable innovation primed for deployment. Today, an estimated 47 percent of companies maintain at least one mission-critical AI module, with another 30 percent exploring potential implementations, according to analysts from McKinsey and Company. The technology is relatively common in the retail space, where more than half of sellers leverage AI in their digital marketing and sales processes. However, many have been reluctant to go all-in on the innovation out of fear for operational disruption. This will change in 2019, the National Retail Federation found.
Researchers for the trade group anticipate both online and brick-and-mortar retailers will embrace AI over the next year out of necessity. Consumers demand customized buying experiences and AI-driven analytics platforms allow sellers to facilitate such services. They lend stakeholders in virtually all business functions, from product development to shipping and receiving, the insights they need to facilitate ideal end-to-end operations that meet marketplace expectations. Big brands have already seen significant success with AI, as approximately 40 percent have used the technology to personalize the sales process via personalized search curation and customer support, according to research from Deloitte. Countless other ecommerce companies are bound to follow in the footsteps of these larger retailers, looking for similar results.
Omnichannel retail intensifies
Global consumers have come to expect holistic purchasing experiences encompassing multiple channels, which is why almost 60 percent of these individuals put their trust in established online sellers like Amazon and Alibaba, analysts for PricewaterhouseCoopers discovered. However, smaller online sellers are playing catchup and building out omnichannel strategies of their own, according to Adobe. This work is expected to continue in 2019 but with some new wrinkles.
Most omnichannel adopters maintain at least two primary channels: a website and a mobile application. Recently, sellers have begun exploring new sales conduits, including specialized social media experiences that give consumers the power to purchase products via their favorite third-party applications, IGD reported. For instance, Amazon recently partnered with Snapchat to explore an embedded feature that lets users of the image-based social media platform to access online product listings by simply snapping a photograph of a potential purchase. Use cases of this kind are among those sellers might explore over the course of 2019.
Voice recognition gains steam
Smart speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home have become mainstays. In fact, almost one-third of American consumers own these items, analysts for Adobe Analytics found. While basic tasks such as requesting weather forecasts and playing music are most common among smart speaker owners, retail-oriented actions are on the rise. For example, almost half of individuals with these assets in the home use them for general product research purposes, while 43 percent put together shopping lists, according to Adobe. As a result, members of the Forbes Technology Council believe smart speakers and the voice recognition services they facilitate are likely to make a significant impact within the retail space in 2019. Although large-scale deployment will be far off for some retailers, especially smaller sellers, all of the businesses navigating the space would be wise to keep an eye on smart speaker-assisted voice recognition and its affect on retail.
As these developments unfold, ecommerce companies must prepare their online infrastructure for expansion. Here at Pixafy, we work with retail organizations of all sizes interested in modernizing and widening their online sales footprints. Our developers leverage award-winning ecommerce expertise to produce online shopping experiences that engage customers and boost the bottom line.
Connect with us today to learn more about our work and how we can help prepare your business for the online retail transformations to come.