Today each of us has a bunch of options when it comes to shopping (regardless the kind of goods). You can accomplish it in the very traditional way by going to the supermarket yourself or you can always turn to the Internet. The latter is becoming more and more comfortable marketplace. In the early e-commerce era it did take a time to familiarize yourself with the specificity of the selling platform, then to look through the innumerable options, and, finally, to purchase.
The complexity of the process was a result of the distorted understanding of what appeals people. Now it’s clear that it’s not the fanciness of complexity but the handy simplicity that drives people to buy. But recently it has come to be different, and it’s rapidly changing right now. Let’s make a quick overview of how e-commerce arose and what kind of changes it undergoes now.
Do you know what drives the birth of new technologies? Of course, lack of something. This is where new inventions start. For example, the non-official beginning of e-commerce era is referred to the early 70s when the ARPANET, the precursor of the modern Internet, was firstly used to perform a cannabis sale between students of the two universities. John Markoff was the first who called it as an act of e-commerce (in his book).
This is a small proof of how new technologies arise where they solve an existing problem. Later on, in 80s-90s the concept of electronic trading had been actively developed. It all consequently led to the dot-com bubble that has made a huge breakthrough in bringing it e-commerce at the prevailing over the traditional trading position.
In short, we can characterize e-commerce as the way of trading with the Internet and social platforms as the marketplaces, which is understandable intuitively. After the dot-com bubble, online trading has been spreading and becoming only more popular as a powerful tool for every entrepreneur (regarding such indication like quality to price).
Today, nobody would argue the fact that e-commerce has already substituted significantly the traditional commerce so that both business-to-client and business-to-business models work successfully within online marketplaces. However, there’s always a place for an improvement. Putting a user in the center of the trading universe, modern times has become excessively focused on the quality of user experience. It drives different attitude to the e-commerce as well. Therefore, if we could observe previous 30 years serving for linear improvement in electronic trading, recent times paved the way for it in depth.
Ok, let’s look at what I mean about “depth”. Recall traditional online shopping. What did first online shops look like? How did you feel about it?
Navigation that you need to learn, hundreds of items among which you need to somehow get oriented, finally, hours of scrolling. It might be helpful if you needed anything you could hardly buy in a regular supermarket, however, you could hardly benefit in terms of the time spent on shopping. How has it changed?
Becoming aware of how important user experience is, entrepreneurs together with developers and marketers has started to actively apply new tools enabling to make services more gracious and welcoming. The appearing of virtual assistants and recommendation systems on the online shopping platforms has made the life of buyers easier and the process of shopping – more pleasurable.
As the technologies are becoming more complicated by inserting developments from the Artificial Intelligence, NLP, Computer Vision and other progressive fields, interfaces, in contrary are becoming more understandable. Everything serves the only purpose – the improvement of the user experience. The stores compete with each other to provide their buyers with the better one. Let’s think about how they do it and what is coming soon.
But firstly, let me ask you. Have you ever got to think how many people use messaging apps? It might be a terrifying number but just to let you know it’s already more (per month) than those who use social networks (you know that I mean facebook messenger as a separate app, right?). Even if you know nothing about, you can figure out some trend in it.
May it influence e-commerce? Yes, of course. Take a look at Uber. Do you have any suggestions on why they decided to build up its presence on Facebook? Uber is about finding either drivers or passengers, and Facebook is about messaging with friends. So, where is the connection? But okay, it works, and people are pretty excited about trying Uber not via normal but via Facebook Messenger.
Uber on Facebook Messenger
The reason is pretty straightforward and obvious for everyone who dared to analyze modern trends. People love messaging. Significantly more than using apps. Even if the app is something you are quite familiar with, when you get an option to use messenger instead of it – you will take it. And messaging with Uber (for instance) is not an exception.
It reminds messaging with a friend and is just as simple. You don’t need to switch to anything else from chatting with relatives and friends as you can order a taxi in the same Messenger. This multifunctionality that messenger is acquiring is tightly connected with vital for user experience simplicity. And this is exactly what people love. They like informality, they like to feel comfortable. You visit your friend in the new house, and he asks you to feel home there.
Messaging apps feel exactly like home comparing to the other apps whose user interface may look fancy but not friendly. This makes us arrive at the point where comfort and friendliness matter overall. We already expect our applications to have a human face. For example, to pick right clothes or order taxi you would rather choose chatting with a virtual assistant (even though, it’s robotic) than push buttons and familiarize yourself with new navigation. It might not be significantly faster but it’s something we are getting intuitively, and therefore, feeling more comfortable about.
Is it the idea itself or the way how we can implement it in our devices changing? Of course, the concept of the easy-to-use and intuitive-to-understand user interface couldn’t change significantly but the way how we can approach it could. These new approaches brought the idea of treating the sales as an additional reward, even for those whose main target is selling itself.
Nowadays entrepreneurs are aiming in the first instance to become thought leaders whom people would trust. That’s why they are launching educative platforms, giving away content and tools to their prospects. So, their prospective buyers would be able to evaluate their expertise and strong business-client or business-business relationships would be built up based on the trust. The variety of tools at our disposal is also innumerable possibilities to make it possible. Let’s look at the example of different e-commerce.
Epytom is an app, available on Facebook and Telegram. Well, it’s like messaging with your style guide, however, you know that’s robotic one. Depending on the period you have initially specified (daily or weekly), you receive suggestion on which clothes to pick. The idea is to live with maximum 40 items of the clothes in your wardrobe and combine them differently from day to day. You might be guessing, where the commerce is here.
The trick is that together with the friendly suggestions of your style guide, also, you receive information where you can buy suggested clothes, how much you should pay for it and so on. It’s an example of different e-commerce approach. Maybe you wouldn’t specifically look for the clothes but if you’ve downloaded this app, then it means that you felt the need of changing your style or attitude to the clothes you had.
Therefore, it can happen that after some time of using this app, when you finally fill imbued with trust to it, you will find worth trying exactly those clothes it suggested to you. So, you will make few clicks and purchase this nice old-school bag or polo shirt. This is an example of how graciously e-commerce can work.
What can you take out from this? Should you just give up on the traditional approach to online trading and focus on the innovations? I don’t think so. The right way always lies somewhere in between. The process of development is always about finding a balance between how you see it and how you can implement it with the fewer expenses and the highest quality.
Even though new innovations are constantly arriving, and they do change services and products to better, it doesn’t mean that it’s always the good idea to apply everything you’re amazed by as it takes your money, your time and doesn’t always result in the same stuff you expected.
Therefore, the right way is to find a balance between things that have already worked for a long time and proved their sufficiency and an available portion of innovations which won’t cost you a whole fortune and years of delay.
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