Emerging Technology

New technology is everywhere. Let me give you an example.

I woke up this morning and did the following things:

– Switched-off my blaring alarm clock (and set it to snooze for 5 mins…at least 3 times!)
– Turned-up the thermostat on the central heating
– Asked ‘what time is it?’ over, and over, and over, and over…
– Added milk and fairy liquid to my shopping list
– Switched on some Monday motivational music
– Checked that my commute to UserReplay HQ wasn’t going to be a traffic nightmare

Quite a list of ‘things’!

Interestingly, I did all these things without clicking an iPhone or laptop, talking to any humans, or writing anything down.

I’d love to say I did all this by ‘Magic’, but no, actually, it was the next best thing; Alexa – Voice Activation technology.

It’s official – new technology is changing how I live and if it is having this sort of impact on my day-to-day life, it is absolutely changing how I shop.

New technology impacting shopping

The impact of new technology on the $27 trillion world of commerce is astounding! Online retailers, globally accounted for 8.6% of all retail spending last year, hauling in around $1.915 trillion, so they really ought not to ignore emerging trends!

As consumers, we demand a frictionless, secure, convenient, personalised shopping experience, and we demand these experiences through the channels that best suit our lifestyle. The significant challenge facing the retailer these days, online or otherwise, is how they come to understand the experience their customers are asking for.

Here are a few of the key developments in new tech that retailers need to be aware of to stay ahead of an increasingly sophisticated, tech-savvy and ever-growing marketplace. Embracing and innovating where possible will help deliver the Online or Offline Customer Experience customers want!

New Tech innovations – trends retailers need to know about

Voice Activation

I have already touched on this topic earlier but, to quote The Donald, ‘This. Is. Huge’. Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ and ‘Google Home’ have changed how we switch on lights and even decide what we are going to wear every day thanks to their clever voice recognition capability; a capability that is advancing rapidly.
Online retailers certainly appreciate the opportunity that voice activation presents.

For example, Just Eat have a partnership with ‘Alexa’ that enables you to order food from one of the thousands of available restaurants. Need an Uber? Alexa can get a driver sent right over.

It is early days for this type of technology but it’s gaining traction at some pace. Accenture reports that voice searches went from contributing ‘0’ global searches, to 10% in 2015.

Voice Activation Search Trends
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This number continues to increase and last year Google reported that 20% of US Android searches were made by voice. IMRG tell us that by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice so, retailers should choose to ignore it at their peril!

Voice activation can give consumers the quick and frictionless online customer experience they desire and also allows online retailers that have a brick and mortar presence to blur the line between their online and offline estate. For example, a retailer could remind me of an item I had on my shopping list when I walk into one of the stores by linking to my mobile app.

Voice Activation can and will have a huge impact on the off and online customer experiences we have moving forwards. A new tech must watch!

Virtual (VR) and (AR) Augmented Reality

2016 was a pivotal year for VR with enthusiastic support to the tune of $1.7 billion being ploughed into related technologies. Whilst not technically being ‘new’, VR and AR have definitely grown some new legs with corporate heavyweights such as Google, Facebook and Sony either promising or actually releasing new platforms.

And if you want an indication as to how enthusiastic consumers are to embrace AR technology, look no further than Pokémon GO!

A demo of AR technology of a Floridian start-up showed how a user could superimpose virtual models of lamps as well as other items of home décor, on top of a real-world dresser to help a customer understand how these items would look within the space.

Ecommerce companies of the world, take note; VR and AR are not just features for games. They have the very real potential to upgrade the online and offline customer experience significantly.

The good news is, the cost of entry remains relatively low and the potential business benefits, fabulously high!

Contactless Payments

After listening to IMRG’s ‘New Tech’ podcast, I was astounded to learn that contactless payments have been around for about a decade.

Previous developments around mobile phone technology had many predicting a rapid and far-reaching reinvention of the payments industry many years ago but, the impact of contactless payment is now only just becoming mainstream.

The reality is that whilst society had been disrupted by new digital technologies, the payment industry has struggled to keep pace, until now.

Contactless payment cards, Apple Pay etc are the norms with huge possibilities for retailers in an offline environment, but, the opportunities of contactless online are significant.

Just imagine being able to go into a webstore and when it comes to the checkout, there are no forms to complete, irrespective of device, and you can quickly and securely check-out. After all, forms are the biggest point of purchase abandonment and a hurdle all retails battle with.

This area will be key to delivering a seamless and frictionless online customer experience in years to come.

New technology is shaping the future of ecommerce, no question. As a retailer, harnessing the technology available to deliver an outstanding Online Customer Experience is integral to future success.

Don’t believe me? Just ask ‘Alexa’! 🙂

To learn more about how new technology is shaping the world of ecommerce, check out the latest podcast from IMRG featuring UserReplay’s Senior Data Scientist, Ming Gao.

Click here to listen to IMRG's New Tech Podcast

Elaine Winchester

Elaine Winchester