In our last article, we discussed some of the most effective ways to use technology to streamline eCommerce operations for your digital storefront. While automating business processes using the right tools helps a brand operate more efficiently, offering an immersive customer experience makes sure that you retain customers, drive loyalty, and increase visiting frequency.
When we talk about eCommerce technology, we can’t hold the conversation without mentioning Artificial intelligence or Augmented reality. Technology in eCommerce is heavily driven by AI, ML and AI-enabled tools and the applications are numerous.
Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality in eCommerce
eCommerce is a trillion-dollar market already and the numbers are continuing to go up. The introduction of Machine Learning and AI has been proving a boon to the industry and we can expect these numbers to go higher in the coming years, attributing to the technology we have today.
In addition to streamlining the operations for businesses, AI and ML are helping brands offer a unique and immersive experience to the customers.
From predicting shopping patterns to engaging AI-enabled assistants, the applications are endless. Machine Learning in eCommerce has enormous use cases and when it comes to customer support recommendation engines, personalization of the content, improving quality of search engine, dynamic pricing are leading how we look at user experience. The application of Machine learning, which we call AI, has a major impact in the eCommerce industry and ensures that the customers enjoy a faster, easier, seamless, and more personalized shopping experience than ever before. Smart customer support helps in lead nurturing and virtual assistants enhance convenience.
In a nutshell, here’s what ML and AI can do when it comes to customer experience on your eCommerce store:
- Enable Smart searches
- 24/7 support so you don’t miss out on sales
- Hyper-personalization with product recommendations
- Better Customer Understanding to strengthen your relationships and drive loyalty.
Augmented reality (AR) is a comparatively new subject in eCommerce. Its use cases have not been explored as much but we are already seeing a lot of brands adapting this technology for a greater eCommerce customer experience. AR in eCommerce gained popularity after IKEA started using it to test products in real-time. We will discuss this in detail later in the article.
For now, here are top 5 ways you can make use of technology to improve eCommerce customer experience for your digital storefront.
Online shoppers can be broadly classified into three major categories based on an individual’s intentions, expectations, and requirements.
This classification includes:
- Users who already know what they are looking for.
- Visitors who are browsing your ecommerce website.
- Visitors who need assistance in filtering products.
Shoppers who know exactly what they want will directly go to the product search bar. It should ideally be placed at a place with maximum visibility on your website. Furthermore, you can also incorporate autocomplete so as to save time and also assist users who can’t remember the exact product name.
Shoppers who are browsing your site looking at different products require a variety of sorting options such as size, colour, price, and brand. For people like those, you should personalize the search experience by allowing them to use different filters. Most of the eCommerce websites have these features incorporated, make sure you are not missing out.
Now for those who have specific criteria for their product search but don’t generally know what they want, you can include product features in the sorting options only so the filtering of products becomes easier and the buyer’s journey doesn’t take forever to end.
Smart Product Recommendations
The best use of technology for enhancing customer engagement and experience is the introduction of smart product recommendations. Guessing what people might like and are inclined to buy isn’t something new but today we have the technology to make this calculative and dynamic. A smart recommendation system helps you keep up with the fluctuating buyer needs and other market trends. A smart product recommendations comes from a plethora of data that includes:
- search queries
- viewing history
- past purchases
- dwell time
- items in the shopping cart
- products recommended on social media
- customer segments
- buyer personas
One other use case of smart recommendation is suggesting related products which can help in cross-selling, upselling, and boost overall sales.
For instance, Forever 21 lets you shop for an entire outfit in one go, with suggestions for the related items or accessories that will go with it to complete an outfit.
According to a Facebook survey, more than 50% of customers say they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat. There are a lot of options you can choose to deploy to your eCommerce store when it comes to connecting instantly with your customers. One of the most preferred methods is the use of chatbots that can be regular or AI-enabled.
Customers expect to retrieve the information they are looking for quickly and at the click of a button. And, chatbots are just the tools for that. There are numerous tools that are readily available with little to no development costs that integrate chatbots into your digital storefront websites and social media handles.
In absence of chatbots, you can use any messaging platform like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc to offer fast and convenient customer support. These messaging platforms are easy, convenient and most importantly saves time for both the brand and the customer.
Messengers are great for instant customer support and queries, however, using a chatbot allows you to offer an experience far greater than that. Here’s how:
Brands like Aerie are using a Kik messenger chatbot to appeal to Gen Z and Millenials for boosting their eCommerce business. The eCommerce chatbot lets the users browse the products based on personal preferences. One of the most popular features of their chatbot is the “This and That” option that allows the user to pick from two different styles of clothing and then uses this data to tailor the items based on user preferences. The company CTO has gone on record to confirm that they have acquired more than double users that come monthly within a matter of weeks, thanks to their chatbots.
One other impressive example of leveraging the powers of a chatbot is eBay’s shopbot that turned out to be a great auction tool for the brand.
Ebay launched their chatbot for a simple eCommerce experiment by using Facebook Messenger to notify users about an expiring auction listing. This would allow them to get the last bid in if they wanted. Since then, the brand has explored and implemented more use cases and developed ShopBot, a ultimate shopping assistant that helps consumers find the items they are looking for at the price they want.
For instance,you can tell the ShopBot that you want women’s tennis shoes under $150 and it will ask you questions regarding the color and the brand until it finds a product that fits those exact requirements.
By using a chatbot that customizes recommendations to this extent, Ebay’s auction platform has become more efficient, popular, and user-friendly.
Uncomplicated online transactions are appreciated by both sellers and buyers alike. eCommerce businesses, in particular, should take note of keeping the check out process simple. And, it does not require a high-tech solution to do so.
Two things- Shopping Viewing Cart and Multiple Payment Options. While customers shop around, shopping carts must be easily accessible or at least visible on every webpage of your eCommerce store. This could be done via a window pop-up in case the customer would like to add an item.
Moreover, always offer a variety of options on your digital store. You don’t want your shoppers to ditch their items and bail on you upon checkout because the payment option they preferred is not available. You should always offer a wide variety of payment options to choose from, especially those that are commonly used by many online shoppers. With the advancement in technology, there is increased use of passive authentication, such as face and touch ID, where the credentials are already loaded into the wallet and ready to pay. This also includes GooglePay, AmazonPay, PayPal, Venmo, etc.
Augmented Reality (AR)
AR is one of the most appealing technologies used by online brands that make up for a perfectly immersive shopping experience. The popularity of AR technology in eCommerce has significantly increased ever since visiting the physical stores came to a halt amid the wide-spread pandemic. AR is high on the list of a lot of product-driven brands. This technology allows eCommerce customers to preview products or experience services at the comfort of their homes and on their own time.
Some of the major AR use cases in eCommerce include:
- Preview Placements
- Virtual try-on services
- Interactive User manuals
IKEA has been using AR long before the pandemic to power furniture shopping at home. The app scans the room for dimensions and shows how the furniture would fit so the customers could get a look and feel of it in their homes.
Wannaby rolled out an app called Wanna Kicks that lets shoppers try on sneakers virtually from their homes. All they need to do is download the app, hold out their feet, and pick a sneaker style from the available options to see how the shoes will look like on their feet.
An app from Warby Parker provides similar functionality for the brand’s glass frames.
Offering an easy if not immersive customer experience is as important as streamlining your business operations for generating constant sales and strengthening customer brand relationships. With the technology resources available at your disposal, you can optimize your digital store working, support customers efficiently, and stand out from the crowd competition to excel in the market. There are a lot of ways to improve eCommerce customer experience using technology that we have today but it’s important that you start with the ones that are crucial for customer success. You can always invest in technology that allows you to offer something unique to your visitors.
Check out how you can use automation in eCommerce and streamline your business operations.
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