The e-commerce world is standing at a crossroads now: there is no shortage of emerging technologies that promise to drive sales numbers into the stratosphere. However, as greater convenience and faster delivery times make online shopping more appealing to consumers across the world, online retailers still have to do something special to stand out from the competition.
In order to really capitalize on the possibilities represented by new e-commerce technology and put that technology to work driving better results, businesses need to be able to understand those technologies thoroughly and adopt them quickly. Read on to learn more about some of the most promising new technologies available to e-commerce businesses today, and to find out what they can do for your business.
1. CPQ software
Today’s e-commerce businesses are starting to learn that they no longer have to rely on intuition and guesswork when it comes to providing pricing and quotes for their products and services. With configure, price, quote (CPQ) software solutions, businesses can automate one of the most complicated and time-intensive parts of the entire sales cycle, which will have the dual benefits of ensuring the most accurate decisions possible regarding pricing and allowing businesses to provide quotes for complex product configurations quickly, which helps keep customers moving along in the sales lifecycle.
In addition to making pricing decisions easier and encouraging higher sales through a more convenient sales lifecycle, CPQ software solutions can also integrate with your existing software platforms to accentuate the unique benefits of each of the individual offerings. For instance, you could integrate CPQ with your CRM solution to make sure you know exactly who your customers are and where they are in the buying lifecycle, or with your ERP platform to make sure that you can make just-in-time decisions that help you make the most of your resources.
2. Mobile devices
It’s no secret that mobile device adoption is on the upswing: according to statistics from eMarketer, the number of global smartphone users will top 1.75 billion during 2014, driven by cheaper devices, development of stronger 3G and 4G networks, and a more global reach for device manufacturers. And it’s not just smartphones and tablets, either: wearable tech devices have also created an important new channel that businesses can use to connect with consumers.
So what does all this mean for online retailers in terms of sales? To put it simply, more devices means more opportunities to reach consumers, and more opportunities for consumers to buy, which are both good things. However, online retailers must be able to optimize their experience for mobile devices if they expect to gain from this trend. This means things like making sure that marketing emails look great when viewed on mobile devices, and making sure that it is easy to browse for products and make a purchase decision using a mobile device. Today’s consumers have little patience for retailers that don’t offer a great mobile experience, and will quickly find a competitor that does.
3. Big data
Big data is one of the trends driving the future of e-commerce because it allows online retailers to really get to know who their customers are, and then provide those customers with offers and promotions that are so personalized and well targeted that they feel like a service rather than “marketing as usual.”
Throughout the history of retail, understanding what customers want has always been the first step toward giving it to them. Now, retailers have the opportunity to know what their customers want in a way that previous generations of retailers never could have dreamed. However, like the other technologies mentioned in this post, there is a caveat: big data means more of all types of data, whether that data is useful or not. Retailers must have the technology needed to separate useful customer data from irrelevant data in order to capitalize on the big data trend.
About the Author:
Ron Mouw is the VP of Business Development at Configure One. Configure One is the leading provider of CPQ and product configurator software solutions for enterprises both domestically and internationally.