• Mary Berko

3 Ways that tech is disrupting ecommerce in 2021 (and why merchants should be paying attention)

Updated: Nov 11



It’s no secret that consumer culture has become increasingly digital over the past few years.


With the introduction of customer experiences like virtual try-ons, social media shops, and digital wallets, it’s now easier than ever to connect to brands and purchase products from the palm of your hand, 24/7 at (seemingly) lightning speed.


The biggest denominator? Technology.


With the rise of digital engagement, technology is holding ecommerce brands to a much higher standard of customer service. For many brands, this means having to do some seriously quick thinking on how to thrive in a tech-forward space.


Adopting new technologies that enhance the customer experience and streamline the buying journey is now a vital way to drive growth, retention, and loyalty in the digital age.


The real question – is it worth it? We think so.


Augmented reality – the ultimate customer experience


The term augmented reality (AR) can be a bit intimidating at first glance, however, there’s a high chance you’ve already used it.


Remember the PokémonGo fad, where hundreds of New Yorkers were found chasing virtual Pokémon characters around Central Park? That’s AR. In the simplest sense, it’s a real-word environment that has been digitally enhanced with computer-generated overlays.


A few more famous examples include Snapchat and Instagram filters that provide an eerily realistic ability to change facial features or add lifelike accessories.


Social media and Pokémon aside, AR has steadily made its way into the consumer experience. But how?


In a world where ecommerce brands are relying on digital engagement for growth, it’s no surprise that new customer experiences are coming to the forefront in the form of technology. Shopping online has traditionally meant less engagement, as there’s no longer a physical space for the product itself.


This is where augmented reality comes in. This unique technology bridges the gap between the consumer and their purchases, helping customers know exactly what they’re buying before they click confirm.


Who is doing it:


Sephora: Virtual Artist App

World-renowned cosmetics store Sephora introduced an App where customers can digitally try on makeup products in advance of purchasing.


Warby Parker Virtual Try-On

Similarly, eyewear brand Warby Parker uses a virtual try-on feature for customers and takes it one step further – Apple Pay integration for a seamless check out. (More on that later!)


So, what does this experience mean for the customer and the brand?


AR provides customers with a more personal and interactive experience without taking any extra steps outside of the home. It also helps brands engage directly with the consumer which, virtually or not, means that the customer is more likely to trust the brand.


Plus, AR helps show customers exactly what they’re getting, meaning less returns making their way back to the warehouse. This tech-focused way of getting close and personal with the customer is just the beginning; it’s predicted that augmented reality will be used by over 2 billion people when shopping online in 2023!


Digital wallets – the seamless buying experience


The digital era has affected every aspect of the customer experience and the payment process is no exception. Digital wallets are on the rise, providing consumers with a streamlined buying experience and an added layer of security when they’re ready to purchase a product.


What is a digital wallet? Some of the most popular examples are Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Amazon Pay, which allow user information to be safely stored and easily accessed for online purchases or contactless in-person purchases. Essentially, your digital wallet stores virtual versions of your credit or debit cards in one central location.


What does this mean for the consumer? Well for one thing – they don’t have to get up and find their credit card before clicking that fickle purchase button. It’s never been easier to cure those lucrative impulse purchases!


And for the ecommerce brands? A 2021 study from ecommerce fraud protection company ClearSale showed 71% of customers prefer using a digital wallet when shopping online.


Adding a digital wallet payment option to your checkout process provides your community with a positive customer experience – encouraging them to trust your brand and visit your site for seamless shopping again and again.


The rise of headless commerce


Engagement and personalization wrapped in a positive CX bow has been a common theme while exploring technology in the ecommerce world – and this holds true for brand websites and payment channels.


More and more, brands are moving over to headless commerce, where the back end and front end of an ecommerce application are separated.


What does this mean for the brand? They can build their site however they want to, without all the technical difficulties that are presented when using a traditional content management system. It means consistent aesthetics from ads to site-browsing to checkout, no matter what channels you’re using – desktop, mobile device, etc.


In 2016, luxury cosmetic brand Lancôme adopted a headless ecommerce structure when prioritizing its mobile traffic after seeing that mobile sessions were a primary source of traffic - but were only one-fifth as likely to convert to sales as desktop sessions. The results? A 36% lift in mobile revenue.


The world of ecommerce is ever-changing, and it is up to brands to develop new marketing techniques, new technology, and new ways of thinking about the overall structure of their sites. With younger, tech-aware generations at the forefront of spending today, it only makes sense that the consumers themselves have higher standards when it comes to visual aesthetics, seamless checkouts, omnichannel sites, and customer experience.

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