New Podcast Kicks Off With Ecommerce Trends & Technology
Throughout my time at CMS-Connected, I have been in conversation with some of the best and brightest minds behind every facet of the digital business world, whether it’s the thought leaders behind technology innovations, the analysts forecasting the ways in which markets will evolve, the internal executives who paint the picture of ways in which customers are utilizing their platforms or, those who cover it all.
It was only a matter of time before we would initiate the CMS-Connected Podcast, where my colleague Gabriella and I will take to the airwaves to discuss current headlines, various industry trends, highlights from recent conversations we’ve had with various members of the digital business community and our own commentary on all of the above. Occasionally we will also feature special guests, similar to those featured in our unique video interviews but offering a longer, more thorough yet casual conversation.
To kick things off with our first ever podcast on September 17th 2018, Gabriella and I will let you all in on a conversation frequently brought up within the walls of our CMS-Connected office, a discussion of the trends and technologies shaping the evolution of the ecommerce market today. Maybe it’s the concentration of innovation or, the close proximity to brands and the creative ways constantly uncovered for them to most effectively understand and connect with their customers but, there’s just something about it that keeps it top of mind for me. In terms of news, there will no doubt be much more we can add to the conversation by September but here is a preview of the kind of topics we will likely discuss.
Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence Tackles Online Retail Setbacks
These two technologies have come to the plate in hopes of reducing one of the major issues of online retail, the return of unwanted goods. With the worth of returned unwanted clothing reaching the tens of billions, it holds an environmental impact and stands as a major drain on resources when it’s all said and done due to the extra shipping and handling required. AI stands to assist in the choice process, with more pointed, intelligent recommendations for both shoppers and retailers, with the ability to also recommend based on trends as well as personal preference.
Secondly, AR will build on the capabilities already shown in assisting shoppers with the at-home purchase of glasses, shoes, makeup and furniture by giving clothing shoppers a better idea of how items look on their body by bringing the “memory mirror" technology currently used by big brands into people’s homes.
Voice Assistants and IoT
It’s hard to argue that voice won’t become the next major user interface and I especially love asking various experts their thoughts on how it will hold court in ecommerce. The question remains however, who will win the race of voice supremacy, Amazon or Google? Amazon holds the key to online commerce but Google arguably holds the key to information, some think Amazon is better equipped to outflank Google but I think Google has a potential army of brands who want to compete against Amazon in voice-enabled purchase but need the platform Google has available.
Secondly, I’d be lying if I said IoT hasn’t been top of mind for me ever since my conversations with both Harry Chemko of Elastic Path and Nate Barad of BloomReach. Harry highlighted one of the reasons their platform is built the way it is, is in preparation for the huge impact IoT will have in commerce strategy given that “there are about 10 billion internet connected devices out there, the vast majority of those are still computers, laptops and mobile phones but when you look forward a few years to 2020, there will be more than 24 billion internet connected devices and most of those won’t be mobile phones or laptops or things like that. It’s more than doubling all of the new ways to interact.”
This was also emphasized by Nate with him saying this when I asked what an important technology would be in the future of commerce: “I would really focus on IoT more than a hand wavy promise but the reality that commerce is coming to the customer now whether that is in automated re-fulfillment or its ordering through devices we’ve never ordered from before on kiosks or in-store, every business has a square swipe now. We really need to pay attention to where our customers are now.”
Mobile Strategy for Ecommerce
Utilizing what mobile can do for your business has been a topic of conversation for a few years but in this instance, we’re eager to discuss companies like Starbucks who are not only using it to disrupt the tired point of sale procedure but also seem to be using mobile as the linchpin of their overall strategy to execute a strong multichannel experience. Its significance regarding mobile ordering is something I will dive deeper into on the podcast but here, Ed Kennedy of Episerver recently provided some context for the conversation when he named Starbucks as the brand significant to him for leveraging technology in a truly modern retail strategy: “Not only do they engage with consumers through their mobile ordering app and personalized offers, but they also offer in-store incentives such as free WiFi and free refills on tea and coffee. The hidden value for Starbucks is all the rich consumer data they are soaking up about consumer preferences or dislikes, behavior, order frequency and location. Their app and stores give consumers a great experience while Starbucks benefits from the massive influx of customer data including that can be sourced from its loyalty program.“
Amazon Should be Top of Mind
Recently we covered the headline of Walmart and Microsoft coming together in a joint interest to take on Amazon, with Walmart sparring with Amazon for online retail market share and Microsoft working to close the market gap on AWS with Azure but, while some may feel this topic is a bit predictable, it’s tough to have a conversation about ecommerce and not discuss Amazon, the ever-present 800lb gorilla in that room. However, given that Amazon accounted for around 4% of the total retail sales figure for the U.S. in 2017, I would say that gorilla is nearing a metric ton. Though in my humble opinion, I don’t think Amazon as a topic of discussion should be quieted in the ecommerce conversation anytime soon.
Thinking critically about the cause and effect of Amazon on the market should always be top of mind. For one, I think the notion of Amazon owning everything and being ‘the everything store’ as Bezos has hoped isn’t appealing however it is necessary simply because in-part it drives the innovation that is remarkable about the industry today and, it would be a dull, dystopian like business world if whatever ignites organizations to compete with Amazon is extinguished. Secondly, the creativity Amazon shows in its creation of things like Amazon Go flipping the script on grocery shopping and the launch of its brick and mortar book store not only should inspire but provides a great template for blending the online/offline experience, showing how well-equipped digitally native brands are at doing so and perhaps where incumbent brands should go for cliff notes on how to create their own similar strategy.
Even though this is a short preview of what will be discussed on our first ever podcast, we are all ears if there are items under this topic umbrella you would like us to touch on or, if you have topic/guest ideas for future podcasts feel free to reach out to us!