The corona virus pandemic has proven that the future of business will be in e-commerce, and that future is now. E-commerce will shape customer needs, wants, and expectations as much as customers. It will also drive more innovation in business models, operations, and marketing.
Even when pandemics and other major emergencies stop people from going to physical stores, e-commerce will enable the continuation of global transactions, cash flow, and economic life of individuals and entire nations.
Still, it is important for companies to study how they can protect their businesses from sudden changes in the market. They must have strategies and capabilities that will enable them to adapt to rapid evolution in technology, customer behavior, regulatory laws and frameworks, and even social norms and public health conditions.
To thrive, some of the most successful businesses are now experimenting with these new technologies in tandem with tried-and-tested methods to remain relevant and profitable:
1. Quick Customer Service and Communications
No matter how popular a product is, customers will only come back for more business when they are satisfied by the service, made to feel special, and their meets are met. For this reason, top firms invest in a reliable PBX provider that offers analog, digital, or hosted platforms. Communication is the key to gaining and keeping customers. For any product inquiry, after-service support, or request for customer assistance — customers must be able to contact the company’s representatives quickly. Staff who are tasked to receive calls must be well-trained, polite, enthusiastic, and sincerely willing to help each caller. In many cases, larger companies outsource these services to a third-party provider. Whether done in-house or outsourced, customer service and communication must be world-class.
2. Voice Search Technology
Another upgrade that many firms are investing is voice search optimization for their websites. Google and Apple Store were among the first to incorporate this tool which made it more convenient for their users/customers to find products or services. The faster people find what they want online, the faster they add things to their cart. In sum, it’s a technology that aids in sales conversion.
3. Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is also a strong influence on e-commerce. Retail giants will leverage IoT to improve how they manage inventory, supply chains, and their logistics. This technology also allows companies to remain “top of mind” among customers long after the sale is done. For example, printer manufacturers included an internet-based interface which allows them to offer ink cartridge replacements to customers who bought printers. Software installed with the printer creates this sales connection between manufacturer/retailer and end-users.
Another game-changing IoT feature is in how it can personalize or customize services according to customer preferences. For example, notice how many Facebook videos on sports appear on your feed once you watch anything related to sports. The system analyzes what the end-user frequently views or uses, and then take that information to fit in or customize advertisements and other content to drive customer interest.
4. Artificial Intelligence
It all began with the now very common chatbots, software that worked to imitate human conversation. Soon, Artificial Intelligence will dominate e-commerce and most businesses around the world. Tesla founder and billionaire engineer Elon Musk even believe that “AI will overtake humans in less than five years.”
Presently, AI is used in e-commerce to predict consumer behavior. This includes tracking and analytics of what, when, and where products are being bought by shoppers.
Musk expects more and claims that AI will soon overtake human beings in terms of analytical and computing power. He also announced that his company is developing a computer chip that can be installed into human brains. The invention, he says, will enable humans to connect to computers and surpass AI capabilities. His company is looking into the possibility of using the brain chip to heal diseases, influence moods, and even play music direct to the person’s head. What sounds like science fiction is actually being tested now in Musk’s laboratories.
Imagine the sheer impact of a brain chip that can detect and receive wireless broadcasts of advertisements and other business transactions.
It seems that e-commerce will become an even more dominant platform beyond 2020. E-commerce retail giant Alibaba is so confident that it predicts a 25% increase in revenue which translates to at least $91 Billion in sales in 2021.
Embracing AI and other emerging technologies are not for the conglomerates alone. As customers shift from brick-and-mortar shops to doing their malling on smartphones, many companies that have shopping apps will also benefit. Many establishments like restaurants, fitness gyms, and schools are also going online to make their services accessible, especially in areas that are still on quarantine.
Indeed, business is about survival of the fittest. The companies that learn to adapt to change will remain to dominate the market.