Online shopping has taken the world by storm, but it's an industry that's constantly evolving. At first, we had to get used to the idea of purchasing items we hadn't seen in person and entering card details on a new platform. Now, there's talk of Virtual or Augmented Reality being used so you can virtually 'try out' anything from furniture to sunglasses before making a purchase. And some sites are suggesting Bitcoin as an appropriate means of payment. The e-commerce world is evolving at breakneck speed, showing how technology is changing the way we spend. We're looking at some of the tech trends influencing the online retail market...
These 5 tech trends are driving online retail
1). Augmented reality means you can 'try before you buy'
By incorporating augmented reality (AR) into an e-commerce site or application, retailers can allow customers to try items out in a virtual 'real world' to see if they're happy with the product. Swedish furniture retail company Ikea has had huge success with their in-app AR function that lets you design entire rooms with Ikea products to see what works best in your home. The AR feature has been successful with furniture stores, but there's loads of opportunity to make the most of this technology in everything from fashion and eyewear to motor cars.
2). Websites could start supporting cryptocurrency
Rewards programs in online retail will increasingly offer cryptocurrency instead of points. An uptick in consumers willing to receive cryptocurrency is driving this trend, as is the increasing availability and transparency of digital currencies. Younger users, in particular, are looking for ways to shop using cryptocurrency. Tech giant Microsoft has been accepting Bitcoin for use in its online Xbox Store since 2014. By creating an e-commerce site that gives users the facility to buy or trade reward points in digital currency could make you a potential winner.
3). Robotics makes deliveries possible almost anywhere
Drones and robotics will allow retailers to deliver products anywhere – not just to a residence or office. Users will be able to take a photo of their location, which will link into the robotic fulfilment system to deliver the item to their hands. This technology has potential in food delivery as well as niche purchase areas like clothing. Imagine breaking a heel at a wedding and being able to order a new pair of shoes direct to the venue. Robotics in online retail also has the potential to make online shopping possible in hard-to-reach areas or remote locations, common in countries like South Africa.
4). Artificial Intelligence transforms inventory management
AI helps retailers more accurately predict demand, which is a key driver of inventory management and supply chain. And, with inventory management comes increased customer satisfaction. Predicting which lines will skyrocket puts retailers at an advantage, and matters more than simple product availability. AI provides the means to achieve this lofty goal that all retailers - online or not - want to reach.
5). Tech could transform grocery delivery
The food giants are increasingly embracing the potential of AI, logistics, and online tech to make their food delivery the go-to system. Checkers Sixty60 has become an award-winning online shopping app, and now other grocery retailers are jumping on the tech trend. Technology will help to streamline the process of booking delivery slots and receiving fresh food to homes in a timely manner. The need arose during COVID-19 lockdowns, but the efficiency and convenience of grocery delivery will, surely, outlive the pandemic.
So here are some of the ways technology is changing and driving the online retail world. Some of the suggestions might seem unlikely for now, but who knows where tech and digital could take us? The way we spend is changing - just like the way we communicate and work. And, it seems, technology is going to be a crucial element in that evolution.