Dr. Suneel Sharma

Dr. Suneel Sharma is a Faculty in Information Technology and heads Professional Technology Programs and Big Data & Visual Analytics at SP Jain School of Global Management.

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What to Expect in 2018 in eCommerce?

Inclusion of data analytics and machine learning has brought new frontiers of development possibilities for e-commerce in the year 2018.

Technology in eCommerce is always expected to change, rather more rapidly compared to other domains. The reasons can be attributed to the competition and fast-growing eCommerce base in terms of activities and customers. All the big and small e-commerce participants have banked upon Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) where they don’t have to deploy large investment upfront but pay as per-use of the software in their operations. SaaS based products and services support e-commerce companies to rapidly scale and scale down based on their territorial versus Stock-keeping units (SKUs) expansion. Any improvement in software has direct impact on workflows and efficient supply chain. Inclusion of data analytics and machine learning has brought new frontiers of development possibilities for e-commerce in the year 2018.

Another area where eCommerce companies and their respective vendors will focus is on the customized experience and overall improvement in the consumer experience leading to loyalty. Faster checkouts, better recommender systems, geo-tagging, cluster based profiling and dynamic fragmentation should be the efficiency route for the software involved. Similarly voice enabled purchases and chat bot assistants need to be further humanized in an efficient and intelligent way. Devices independency, promotion of relevant products and at right time will be a key factor to enhance further adoption of newer shopping habits and increasing sales volume.

So far, we have seen large eCommerce companies fighting for market share. Future of eCommerce holds promise to small local e-commerce networks. We hear hyper local in eCommerce context but its adoption and breakout is yet to happen. The ecosystem for hyperlocal will be created when there will be large service providers and platform providers will reach out to small shopkeepers and there will be hyper connectivity of suppliers, retailers, customers, payment gateways, and delivery channels. In 2018 expect a breakout of second layer entrepreneurs who will plugin to the systems to create hype local scenario and ready to compete with bigger e-commerce companies. Bigger eCommerce companies will also get their share by utilizing this new ecosystem of last-mile local network.

2018 holds another expansion in customer experience levels through inclusion of augmented and virtual reality technologies. With such emerging technologies becoming popular and available to masses they will bridge a critical gap between online digital and physical worlds. The eCommerce businesses will deploy various new applications in their retail environment where users can experience the products in an immersive fashion using their smartphone. It has huge potential on certain products where physical store requirement is felt. For example, to experience the size of a LED tv display a customer has to go to the physical store. An eCommerce web-site or mobile site will not be able to provide exact look and feel of the TV on living room wall. Using a head mounted device the eCommerce can provide this augmented or virtual experience for making a purchase decision without a need to go to the showroom. It will be never easy to launch such virtual stores initially but as the technologies will be making its own way to vendors and retailers, the eCommerce has to link the user experience to their online store.

From next day delivery eCommerce has to now move to same day delivery or even 1 hour delivery models. Drone based deliveries will overcome the city road traffic. This can be implemented at least hub-to-hub rather than last mile deliveries. Customers have started using various devices at office and home and at different platforms. There is a need to provide an integration for a Omni-presence-purchase experience. Market research can highlight this fact where majority of customers start and end a purchase on different devices. A seamless visual and purchase process experience along with other experiences like multi-platform navigation, in-purchase messaging, payment methods, and social media integration.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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