Feb 08 2019

The Future of Ecommerce is Now: Review of Our 10 Year Predictions

A couple of years ago, we put on our “foreseer” hats and predicted future trends and technologies in ecommerce. Since then, one thing became clear: the future of ecommerce is not as far as we initially thought. We reviewed our five-year predictions and found that many have already come to fruition or will in the next year.

Now, let’s go back to the future and take a look at our ten-year predictions.

10 Year Predictions

Drones and Autonomous Vehicles

Our prediction:

“Brands like Amazon are establishing their own fleets, and other companies are tapping into their existing teams to deliver goods. What all of this hardware infrastructure will amount to over the next decade is the move from extensive shipping times (anything over two days), down to next day, same day, and eventually same-hour shipping.”

What you can do now:

We didn’t think autonomous vehicles would even happen by 2022, and we were sorely mistaken. Kroger, Walmart, and Amazon are in the process of building their fleet of autonomous vehicles and testing in certain towns and cities.

Drone delivery is another story. In an episode of 60 Minutes released in December of 2013, Amazon announced their plan to deliver packages via drones in the next four to five years. Well, the timer is up on Amazon’s promise. One of the major hurdles of delivery drones becoming mainstream is the long list of FAA Rules along with regulations passed by towns, states, and cities—making it difficult to comply when delivery outside of town limits.

The most significant benefit of autonomous vehicles and drones is the shortened delivery time. If you don’t have the resources to build your own fleet of autonomous vehicles, there are other ways to meet customer expectations. If the cost of two-day or same-day delivery is stopping you from offering it, reserve the option for your most loyal customers with high average order values. According to a study by Metapack, 79% of consumers want ecommerce sites they shop with to offer a delivery loyalty program so they can benefit from faster or free delivery. Additionally, 31% would pay a monthly fee to get unlimited next-day deliveries.

The same study found that customers are more likely to shop at a store that offers multiple delivery options. When asked which delivery options they have taken advantage of, 44% of consumers said they used collect-in-store, 39% used collect from a local pick-up point or shop, 19% used delivery to workplace, 11% used delivery to a locker, and 8% used a personal concierge service. Promoting multiple delivery options will provide shoppers the flexibility they seek in shipping.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Our prediction:

“What we currently experience in brick and mortar stores, touching, seeing, smelling, all of that will be available in some manner through VR and AR in 10 years.”

What you can do now:

When virtual reality (VR) headsets made a splash a few years ago, it seemed everyone put these at the top of their hot new technologies In preparation for the boom in VR headsets, VR companies, such as Oculus, are investing in developing functionality and features.

Oculus, acquired by Facebook in 2014, sells VR headsets as well as “experiences” (their term for apps). While their list of apps isn’t extensive, it does carry experiences from household names such as Hulu, Wayfair, and, of course, Facebook. The apps enable brands to create realistic 3D environments—an ideal platform for one-of-a-kind user experiences.

With Oculus, brands can display content, hold events, and add voice chat to their app. Think about the possibilities with this kind of technology: virtual VIP parties, VR-only content, personal consulting. While Oculus limits ecommerce transactions to digital products only, we’d be surprised if it didn’t expand to physical products in the near future.

Wearables and Embedded Technology

Our prediction:

“Wearable tech will be integrated into our glasses, clothing, shoes, and even purses and bookbags. Sure, these devices will still be able to help you track your steps, but more importantly, they’ll store your universal payment chips.”

What you can do now:

Due to the recent slur of data breaches, many consumers are skeptical when it comes to putting their personal and credit card information into a device that can be easily lost or stolen. That said, the adoption of digital wallets tripled in the last few years, proving consumers are warming up to the idea of using a phone or wearable to pay for items.

Before integrating every mobile payment option, dig into your data to see which devices most of your consumers use. If the majority of shoppers visit your ecommerce site on an Apple device, first invest in an Apple Pay integration. You also need to consider the security of the payment solution and how it will integrate with your bank account. Mobile payment solutions have their own security measures, and most never save cardholder data in its entirety—the information is either tokenized or encrypted. For those customers on the fence about mobile payments, sprinkle messaging throughout the checkout process about the ease and safety of mobile payments.

Embedded Buying

Our prediction:

“Why bother pulling up an app or site on your phone or VR headset when inventory management will be built into everything you own. Running low on milk? You may not remember, but your fridge does.”

What you can do now:

Some appliance brands produced fridges that tell you what you need to buy, but most come with a hefty price tag. Instead of relying on a customer’s appliance or gadget to tell them what they need to replenish, offer your shoppers subscription services. Since Birchbox launched in 2010, subscription boxes have become a craze among consumers. In the past five years, the subscription ecommerce market grew over 100%

Subscriptions are a win-win for the brand and their customers. For the company, not only does a subscription model offer recurring revenue, but also recurring data. Leveraging continuous streams of data from subscribers, including newly acquired, loyal, and churning, can help inform business decisions far beyond subscriptions, such as marketing decisions, pricing strategy, and even new product development.

For the consumer, their shopping process turns into a reliable, personable, and flexible experience. Each month, they receive the exact product they need at the time they need it and try new products before committing to a purchase. Creatively using data to provide a personalized and surprising customer experience will be key to retaining your subscribers. Subscribers typical expect tangible benefits, such as lower costs, more customization options (both subscriber initiated and AI-powered), and consumables.

Connect Humans

Our prediction:

“Prosthetics are already becoming more tech-infused (thought turned to action), what is to say the world won’t move to a place where people willingly remove limbs for technologically advanced ones?”

What you can do now:

This prediction could definitely be thrown into a “you never know” category, but honestly, this seems more like a 100 years away. For now, focus on what you can do to prepare for the adoption of embedded technology and wearables.

If you’re looking to replatform your ecommerce site or optimize your current site with future proof features, feel free to reach out here.

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Shannon Kenneally

Media Marketing Specialist

After graduating from Clemson, Shannon started her career in marketing, focusing on content creation and engagement. As Blue Acorn’s Content Writer, she keeps clients and customers up-to-date on the latest trends and news in the ecommerce world. In her free time, she enjoys running with her dog and checking out the local breweries in Charleston.

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