6 Ways Technology is Disrupting the ECommerce Industry

March 2, 2022
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The eCommerce (electronic commerce) industry allows buying and selling of commodities over the internet. Many people are now turning to their smart devices and computers to purchase products and services, thus disrupting the eCommerce landscape.

eCommerce is founded and runs on multiple technological processes, such as supply chain management, internet marketing, inventory management systems, and automated data systems. More than one party is involved for the exchange of data to happen.

eCommerce platforms use the web to run and manage transactions. Thanks to technological advancements, you can now purchase and sell almost everything through eCommerce.

The disruptive channels and opportunities created through the use of technology have enabled many businesses, small, medium, and large, to reach a wide audience through eCommerce. 

In this article, we will explain the four market segments of eCommerce and expound on the different ways leading technologies are disrupting the eCommerce industry.

Four market segments in eCommerce

  • Business to business (B2B)

B2B is the direct sale of goods and services between businesses.

  • Business to consumer (B2C)

B2C involves sales between businesses and their customers.

  • Consumer to consumer (C2C)

C2C channels enable an individual to sell to another through a third-party platform.

  • Consumer to business (C2B)

C2B platforms allow individuals to sell to businesses such as an artist selling their artwork to corporations.

A good example of a B2B and B2C platform is Amazon. Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994 as a bookstore, and the company has since expanded to sell various goods and services to both businesses and end consumers. 

The company leverages the use of technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, high-performance systems, and data analytics in supporting its customer-centric operations.

As a result of its diversified business model, Amazon has realized a consistent increase in sales; the total net sales revenue rose by a whopping 4,362%, from $10.53b in 2006 to $469.81b in 2021.

Amazon’s net sales revenue growth, 2006-2021 – Image Credit: Statista.com

6 ways technology is disrupting the eCommerce industry

1. EWallets (mobile wallets)

Mobile wallets have gained popularity in the recent past. You can use your e-wallet to pay for your purchases in both physical and online stores. Examples of e-wallets that you can use include Mobile Digital Wallets, Wallet-Consolidating Cards, Mobile Phone Billfolds, and Versatile Digital Wallets.

You can also find wallets on money transfer platforms like Skrill.

An e-wallet is linked to your bank account for loading and withdrawal purposes. Once loaded, you can purchase items directly on eCommerce platforms. You can also withdraw cash from the wallet directly to your bank account.

While setting up an e-wallet account you need to install the e-wallet software first and follow the instructions, or, register an account and proceed to load your wallet; the process varies depending on the platform you are using.

The use of e-wallets helps reduce the abandonment rates for eCommerce sites, leading to increased sales conversions.

Despite being convenient to use, e-wallets come with challenges, especially since some retailers only accept payments through specific wallets. You may also incur additional charges on your wallet when completing payments.

Also Read: 5 Growth Tips for Your Business Success

2. Subscription platforms

Subscriptions are continuously disrupting eCommerce by providing ways to easily and conveniently purchase goods and services. Once set up, subscription channels enable you to receive monthly deliveries of products and services of your choice, on a specified date, monthly or annually.

You can easily change frequencies, add new orders, cancel orders, and change subscription dates as desired. You will find it easy to manage your orders through subscriptions, and many eCommerce platforms offer price reductions for being a subscriber.

For your products to sell you should use a good eCommerce subscription platform, one that provides space for customers’ feedback, automated purchases, and other add-ons.

Cratejoy is a beautiful subscription marketplace whereby businesses can set up subscription boxes at a $39 monthly fee. Here, customers get to search and find products and services of their choice and they are sent to them on a specific date. 

Cratejoy marketplace – Image Credit: Cratejoy.com

3. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR)

AR converts virtual pictures and characters into real-life experiences through a camera, video, or video viewer. VR, on the other hand, produces the same effects through an alternate computer generalized simulation. 

By 2024, the market for these emerging technologies is projected to grow to USD300 billion, up from USD30.7 billion in 2021. Different industries are being transformed through the use of both AR and VR thus driving the demand for such tools and systems.

With AR, eCommerce shoppers can now use computer-generated images to visualize an item, such as a wristwatch, sofa, etc., within the context of their physical environment to see if it fits the available space.

For example, ASOS’See My Fit’ technology enables customers to see how products fit and look like when worn on 16 different body types and sizes. The technology is disrupting eCommerce by enabling customers to digitally fit clothing onto models.

One of the ways VR is disrupting eCommerce is by enabling customers to immerse themselves in virtual shopping rooms, enabling them to experience brands and shop for products from the comfort of their homes.

For instance, in 2014, TopShop enabled its fans to attend an exclusive fashion runway through a 360-degree panoramic video stream.

Below is a virtual reality headset that perceives a computer-generated environment with scenes and objects that appear to be making the user feel they are immersed in their surroundings. The technology allows gamers to immerse themselves in a video game while enjoying real-life experiences.

Virtual Reality Headset – Photo by Sound On, Pexels

4. Integrated CRM systems

Customer Relation Management (CRM) integration is seamless connectivity between your CRM software and third-party applications. 

The integration allows for automated actions. A good CRM system enables businesses to collect and access customer and sales data, conduct data analytics, and ensure seamless workflow in the organization. 

CRM systems are You will boost employees’ productivity and customer relations when you apply a good CRM system.

Indeed, CRM systems are disrupting eCommerce by enabling retailers to use forecasting tools to predict short-term and long-term sales.

Integrating the CRM software with your eCommerce platform will automatically sync your products, contacts, and orders so you have access to a 360-degree view of your business performance. 

Also Read: 6 Elements of an Effective Business Strategy

5. Robotics 

Robots come with artificial intelligence technology that substitutes for human action. Robots have several applications, such as customer service, delivery, and inventory management.

The different types of robots include;

  • Pre-Programmed robots – Designed to operate in a controlled environment and perform simple and monotonous tasks.
  • Humanoid robots – Programmed to perform human-like activities.
  • Autonomous robots – Created to carry out tasks in an environment that does not require human supervision.
  • Teleoperated robots – These are semi-autonomous robots that use a wireless network to aid human control from a distance.
  • Augmented robots – Created to enhance current human capabilities or replace past, lost human capabIlities.

Customer service robots, for instance, perform activities similar to those of a human, such as greeting customers, serving them, giving them guidelines, detecting whether they have put on a mask, among others.

Below is an example of a robot constructed to evoke the human form. It is capable of carrying out complex tasks automatically. It is controlled through an external device or the control may be embedded within it.

Besides customer service, the robotic technology is also disrupting the eCommerce industry by enhancing product delivery from fulfillment centers to customers. 

For instance, Fabric, a micro-fulfillment company, promises fast (1-hr) delivery, 99.9% order accuracy, and 70% savings in labor and rent, enhancing the organization’s competitive advantages.

Similarly, you can use robotics or outsource services to companies like Fabric for improved production efficiency and increased sales.

6. Voice commerce

The eCommerce industry has been improved by the availability of natural language processing (NLP) systems. The NLP technology gives computers the ability to understand texts and spoken words as human beings do.

NLP technologies include Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. NLP uses artificial intelligence along with computational linguistics to process the data fed into it.

NLP tools are disrupting eCommerce by serving as personal shopping assistants. The bots enable customers to issue commands or instructions for what they need online, and the personal virtual assistant does the search for the desired products and services. Customers can then buy products online without having to conduct a manual search. 

This approach helps improve the relations between eCommerce retailers and customers, leading to quick sales conversions.

Summary

Every eCommerce retailer needs to adopt one form of disruptive technology or the other in order to be at par with other retailers that have already migrated their operations to the digital space. Some of the leading technologies disrupting eCommerce today include e-wallets, subscription forms, augmented reality and virtual reality, integrated CRM systems, robotics, and voice commerce.

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