6. Retailers Will Hire Their First AI Employee
Retailers today carry between 2 and 10 times more SKUs than they did 10 years ago – all of which only exists online if it has the related product content to support it (product images, video, descriptions, sizes, attributes, and complementary products).
Even the biggest retailers are struggling to produce product content fast enough to properly commercialize and merchandize their selection.
Product content is the heart of eCommerce. It provides superior product discovery and selection capabilities, which requires detailed product information and critical product-specific attributes, coupled with semantic search.
Retailers must maintain and provide images and videos, catalog descriptions, names, category-specific metadata (e.g., nutrition information for food products), stock availability, product matrices (e.g., size ranges), company/brand logos, product ratings and reviews, pricing, and promotions information for all physical SKUs. Acquiring this information from suppliers is a time-consuming task, requiring various methods and a significant amount of manual activity.
Enter the robots.
AI-based solutions will increasingly automate the creation, optimization, classification, translation, and syndication of product content which, combined, have become a must to keep up with consumer demand for more product information: the merchants with the most (and best) product information win the customer.
The Chinese eCommerce marketplace says its AI-based copywriting tool, which can produce 20,000 lines of copy a second, is used a million times a day by vendors.
Amazon is making an AI-based real-time product recommendations engine available to merchants who use the AWS console.
7. The QR Code Strikes Back
Anyone with the latest mobile phone can now use their camera to detect QR codes and dig into product descriptions, pricing and other related product information.
Users will see a prompt on screen once their device recognizes a QR code (which generally takes less than a second), with an option to click a link, which takes the user to the desired location. This addresses brand manufacturers’ challenge where limited space on packaging can make it impossible to display all relevant product information – all the while providing an opportunity do create a direct brand-to-consumer relationship.
By making QR code detection a native part of iOS and Android, Apple and Google have removed the main barrier to QR code use and adoption: it’s dependance on apps to read QR codes.
Aside from adding an augmented reality dimension to every mobile user’s daily life, the QR code allows both consumers and merchants to address showrooming – the practice of shopping in-store before completing the purchase online, at the visited merchant’s store or a competitor’s – as a new channel for product discovery and customer acquisition.
Some studies have attributed as much as 20% of digital sales to in-store visits, where the initial discovery occurred in person, but was researched and completed via digital channels, often called “showrooming”.
8. The Amazon-ification of Major Retailers
The world’s largest 18 marketplaces sell over $1 trillion worth of goods every year. Analysts predict that marketplaces will account for 40% of the global online retail market by 2020. Marketplaces — when operated effectively — are likely to boost customer loyalty, increase average order values, and build trust.
Retailers with significant traffic will add marketplace functionality to capture new revenue through commissions on sales and to test product and category interest before direct sourcing the SKUs. Distributors with multiple suppliers can become a client’s one-stop shop by providing and displaying a wider selection of products and SKUs, as well as creating a direct to consumer (D2C) storefront.
This will enhance their customers’ shopping experiences by providing multiple, complementary products and services on a single website (or PWA).
Whether to beat Amazon, eBay and others at their own game, or to get in on the marketplace action, retailers are broadening their reach and selection by integrating the marketplace model to their digital commerce toolkit.
BEST BUY CANADA
Best Buy Canada, once an electronics specialty store, capitalized on its market-leading traffic (over 20M visits /month) by integrating a marketplace and quickly doubled its online SKUs and expanded to jewelry, furniture, baby products and many more categories.
When WalMart Canada launched the marketplace feature, they immediately doubled their online product assortment. The initial assortment focused on home, baby, apparel, toys and sporting goods.
For distributors or sellers looking to diversify their sales channels by adding multiple marketplaces, ChannelAdvisor is a SKU syndication tool that connects products, product content and pricing to multiple channels; ChannelAdvisor connects to over 100 marketplaces worldwide.
9. In-Car eCommerce: Shopping On The Go
Nearly half of the 135 million American commuters use their smartphone to discover the closest gas station, order and pay for coffee, take-out, groceries, parking and more. In all, 77% of commuters who go online while driving* engage in commerce of some kind. Some estimates suggest that once commerce is integrated into the car, as many as 83% of ALL commuters would engage in in-car commerce.
Geolocalization technologies (GPS, Google maps and Waze, for example) helps advertisers understand where users are going, and where they go most often, much like SEO helps advertisers understand what consumers look for and social media reveals what they “like”,
From voice search to GPS and music/podcast apps, in-car eCommerce will become one of the main drivers of local traffic as consumer adoption, contextual advertising and driver-friendly interfaces make “auto-mobile-conversion” work.
80% of mobile users use voice search engines to search for a local business, of which 50% are likely to visit the store within a day, with roughly 18% of those local searches converting to a sale within 24 hours.
BENNY & CO
Benny & Co uses Waze to show commuters pins near them, driving dinner time traffic to their 48 rotisserie chicken restaurants.
10. Product Content Syndication
Product content is at the heart of eCommerce and is one of the keys to a consistent omnichannel experience. Product information (images, descriptions, specifications, attributes, etc.) is now as important as the physical product itself. – without product information, digital consumers can not discover, research, compare or make an informed purchase decision.
As brands and retailers continue to prioritize and invest in product content, digital leaders will go one step further to improve product content syndication.
Syndication provides consistency across channels and gives buyers and consumers the most complete and relevant shopping/buying experience.
Product content syndication is content that is automatically pushed to multiple sites/channels from a centralized point, broadening its reach and visibility while ensuring consistency. Brands and manufacturers syndicate their content to increase brand awareness, product information consistency, SEO and conversions.
America’s biggest retailer, who also operates the 2nd largest marketplace after Amazon, has imposed product syndication tools to its suppliers in order to have the best and most up to date product content on its platforms.
inRiver, a Product Information Management (PIM) platform that caters to brand manufacturers, distributors and retailers alike, has released a beta version of a product content syndication tool to enable manufacturers and wholesalers to push product content from a centralized system to retailers’ and marketers’ syndication apps, ensuring consistency, completeness and reach.