Four People-Centered Trends to Watch for in E-Commerce

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Four People-Centered Trends to Watch for in E-Commerce

Tue, 03/06/2018 - 07:06

What needs are you serving and how might digital technologies help you meet them in creative and thoughtful ways?

To succeed in e-commerce, look for new ways to serve basic needs - David Mattin from TrendWatching told about 200 digital professionals at the Handelskraft conference in Munich, Germany. A seemingly simple statement, but as the lead trend spotter went on to show, innovation is about how we deal with emerging expectations. Look at how Uber has led us to expect one-touch service for getting from point A to B.

Mattin outlined four trends in e-commerce in his lively talk. Here they are in the order that the audience rated as important for their businesses.

1. Automated commerce (a-commerce)

Everyone loves service and convenience. Artificial intelligence (AI) is maturing and online retail has been quick to latch on to auto-ordering. Some examples of a-commerce:

  • A virtual wardrobe organizes outfits and manages purchases.

  • Bartering lets you negotiate for the best energy price, saving 25-30% off your household bill.

  • A chatbot manages your personal finances.

  • Santander’s banking app lets you make payments with voice.

What will your customer interactions look like? Build your digital experiences around that.

2. Mentor to protége (M2P)

We all seek instant connection to peers who have knowledge, skills or expertise in the daily tasks and challenges that we face. Think of these examples:

  • LinkedIn has introduced a mentoring service.

  • Amazon connects users to personal stylists.

  • Uber Nigeria matched entrepreneurs with investors by organizing car rallies to Lagos where budding entrepreneurs could pitch their business cases to investors during the ride.

  • Airbnb goes beyond sharing and renting homes to connecting travellers with local experts e.g. for wine tours.

How can you build a platform that empowers users to connect to peers?

3. Face forward

Your face is the most meaningful interface for convenience and personalization. “I am my data” is your motto into the new era of personalization. Some have taken the first steps:

  • Dubai Airport has replaced the standard customs and security check area with a virtual aquarium that scans travellers as they view swimming fish and colorful corals.

  • An app uses facial mapping to recommend glasses.

  • Zurich’s selfie app helps people think about finances.

  • Spotify monitors your preferences and tells you things about yourself that you didn’t know.

  • Cosmetic brand Smashbox uses eye-tracking to boost online sales (did you realise that you looked at that lipstick shade three times more than the eyeliner?) and saw a 25% jump in revenue.

How can you leverage face as the new digital interface for security, personalization and more?

4. Virtual companions

Who would have thought that we have more time to spare? Yahoo’s Flurry Analytics mobile study reported a 394% increase in time spent on messaging apps in 2016. Virtual companions are more than functional. They are becoming real proxies for our psychological need to connect. Some examples:

  • Capital One bank uses AI to respond to SMS and emojis.

  • A KLM wearable gives tourists advice as they wander through the streets of Amsterdam.

  • A hospital app acts as a companion for young patients.

  • Replika’s chatbot befriends and supports users with the goal of becoming them (“hello mini me”).

  • In Japan, cafe goers can talk to a hologram of a virtual pop star.

How can you create virtual entities to go from functional to companionship?

Granted, these trends will not apply to all kinds of business, as Mattin also pointed out. Start by scrutinizing what your business does. What needs are you serving and how might digital technologies help you meet them in creative and thoughtful ways? Anticipate the emerging expectations to carve your way to digital success.



About the Author: Berlinda Nadarajan is a content writer at Magnolia, a sponsor of the Handelskraft conference organized by dotSource.