In 2018, digital commerce continues to play a pivotal role in how businesses, both big and small, think about their customer’s experiences. In a 2017 report from research firm Gartner, it was clear that a robust and diverse digital strategy is critical to acquiring new customers, developing strong relationships, as well as increasing revenue and reducing costs.

Despite overwhelming evidence that digital commerce initiatives impact day-to-day operations and the overall customer experience, many organizations struggle to get started in the space. Businesses are nervous about investing in cutting edge technology and don’t necessarily know what investments they should be making.

In this post we’ll try to address some of these issues by looking at three emerging digital commerce technologies and how they can be used to deliver great customer experiences.

Conversational commerce

Conversational commerce is a technology that has been evolving for several years and represents an intersection between messaging apps, voice recognition, and shopping. It provides customers with a range of new options for reaching out to organizations and getting answers. Using their favorite messaging apps, chat apps, or even voice recognition technology customers can naturally make inquiries, get recommendations, and place orders.

The key reason why conversational commerce is so important boils down to one thing; customer engagement. For businesses to gain an edge, they need to be where customers are, and be there at the right moment. Conversational commerce allows customers the freedom to engage on their terms and empowers businesses to respond just as naturally.

Throughout 2018 and the following years, it’s anticipated that natural-language interactions will become the norm and customers will expect to interact with companies in this manner. Today however, it’s important to recognize that conversational commerce is in its infancy and while technology firms are racing to develop perfect human to computer conversations, there are still limitations. For now it works exceptionally well for the simpler aspects of customer relations such as product recommendations and repeat buying however issues like customer complaints are still best handled by human beings.

Thing Based Commerce

The past 5 years have seen a slow transformation for thing commerce as it’s morphed from the smartphone to the smart home. Today it is becoming increasingly common for homes to be filled with objects that are programmed to make purchases based on simple rules, customer preferences, and situational context.

One of the leading examples of this technology has been the Amazon Dash Replenishment Service, that gives appliances the ability to automatically reorder supplies when they start to run low. For example, imagine a dishwasher that keeps track of how many loads have been completed and automatically reorders dishwashing detergent before you run out.  With forecasters predicting just over 30 billion IoT devices by 2020 and over 75 billion by 2025, thing commerce is set to have a major impact in the coming years.

At its core, thing commerce is focused on providing customers with a hands off  shopping experience, that allows them to cut out the ‘boring shopping’ tasks. For businesses this is expected to create additional revenue and much more reliable, subscription like, purchasing behavior.

API-based digital commerce

API stands for application programming interface and it is an essential aspect of how different applications and hardware communicate. As with the other two technologies we discussed, API based commerce has continued to gain more popularity over the past few years.

Today commerce has extended far beyond traditional brick and mortar stores. As a result, today’s consumers look to engage with companies through social media, wearables, smart home devices, and more recently their vehicles. As a result of this highly interconnected space, shoppers expect their in-store experiences to be an extension of all of their other shopping experiences rather than something different.

Through effective API based commerce a customer should be able to purchase a product online, seek customer support via social media, and then exchange a product in store, without ever having to provide more than their name. API-based commerce is all about providing consistency to your customers by allowing all frontend customer experiences (Social, Web, App, and Retail) to seamlessly communicate with behind the scenes logistics.