CEO of Cheesecake Labs, a software design and engineering company that helps you build successful tech products.
The year 2020 certainly cemented the role and essentiality of digital business. But if we’re being honest, the bar for online shopping experiences is still a little low.
Nowadays, anyone with an internet connection and Shopify knowledge can launch their own e-commerce site in a matter of hours. And while this is good for new businesses, it’s not so good for customers. It leads to a monotone marketplace of generic lookalikes. So, customers end up opting for the most recognizable online brands.
If you’re going to stand out, retain a competitive advantage and keep delivering value to your users, then your shopping experience needs investment.
Tech Innovations That Will Elevate Your Shopping Experiences
Unique experiences that inspire customers to come back and recommend your service to their friends are what I like to call a high-value shopping experience. This is an experience that’s emotive, differentiated from the competition and utilizes emerging technologies.
To provide you with a little inspiration, our product design and engineering team curated some of the most exciting next-level innovations in tech. Each of these has the potential to change the future of shopping experiences in any industry — all it takes is the right combination of market opportunity, open-minded business and a capable digital partner.
Some of these options might not be immediately feasible for your company. However, all can offer food for thought and help you move toward a more innovative, high-value mindset.
1. Voice Search And The Future Of Online Shopping
On the surface, voice search may seem like one of the least exciting propositions for the future of shopping experiences. After all, it’s the tech that gave us Siri in 2011. And since then, it’s long been the butt of jokes:
“Hey, Virtual Assistant. Can you order a Lyft to downtown?”
“Sure! Your chocolate-covered espresso beans should be here by Tuesday.”
But with the onset of smart home devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice search is rising in popularity exponentially. In fact, almost half of all searches are now done by voice.
Online businesses can take advantage of this in a few ways. First, they can implement voice search on their own websites. Second, businesses can optimize for voice search in conjunction with traditional SEO strategies. And third, companies can invest in natural language processing to improve voice interactivity.
2. Increasing Transparency Through The Blockchain
A technology that is especially positioned to boom over the next few years is the blockchain. While it got its start with cryptocurrencies, a blockchain allows data to be stored and archived permanently, then viewed with a high degree of transparency.
In financial transactions, this has a very clear and practical application. But it doesn’t stop there — this concept is easily applicable to other segments of tech. The automotive industry could use blockchain technology to track car usage, letting second-hand car buyers see how many repairs, accidents, miles and owners a vehicle has had. And there would be no doubt that this information was accurate. What could that level of trust and transparency mean to your customers?
3. IoT And The “Smart” World
IoT, or the Internet of Things, is another technology that’s quickly gaining traction. IoT refers to the idea that, eventually, everything will be connected to the internet in one way or another.
At home, we can see IoT take shape in the form of a smart light connected to a smart thermostat connected to a smartphone. All of these devices communicate automatically, adjusting in tandem with minimal interference.
When it comes to using IoT to craft meaningful shopping experiences, the possibilities are endless. IoT can be used on the business side of things to improve logistics and increase product reliability. For example, Zest Labs is using IoT to substantially reduce product waste.
On the customer-facing side of things, IoT can create unique digital experiences. It can personalize a shopping trip, offer a more robust and integrable product or even aid in voluntary customer research.
4. AI And You: How Machine Learning Is Poised To Impact Shopping Experiences
Artificial intelligence (AI) can craft shopping experiences like no other technology. Perhaps the most familiar use case for artificial intelligence in shopping experiences is the chatbot. This is a real-time, AI representative that customers can text back and forth with whenever they need it. The chatbot can answer simple and frequent questions, improving the customer experience and relieving pressure on your customer support team.
In more technical instances, AI can be a powerful collector and manager of customer research. The conversations between customers and AI can be analyzed to improve your website, alter your marketing and pull analytics from large quantities of data (data lakes) that human researchers can’t comprehend.
5. Personalized Online Shopping Experiences For All Of Your Customers
Lastly, personalization is a rapidly developing technology that already directly influences shopping experiences and transactions. No two people will be recommended the same videos on YouTube. That’s because an algorithm is serving up what to watch based on data stored on that user.
The same tech is being used to offer personalized experiences to Amazon and social media users. So, why doesn’t every website work this way? Well, soon enough, they will. Customers who visit your site, regardless of industry, will be shown recommendations and offers specific to their usage of your website.
Beyond recommendations, certain design elements of your website or app might shift as well to automatically accommodate specific users. You can see this on Netflix, where users will see different thumbnails for the same shows based on their usage history.
Elevate The Bar — Before Your Competitors Do
Everyone wants to develop their brand, build customer loyalty and drive engagement. To rise above mediocrity, you’re going to need to put in the work. And that means focusing on your shopping experiences.