Industry-changing technologies have established ecommerce as a viable channel for selling products and services over the last 20 years.
Now transactions are possible anywhere a customer has a WiFi connection. Commerce can happen via smartphone apps, mobile devices, social media ads, live stream videos, virtual and augmented reality (AR), and even a TV or fridge.
By 2026, the market it’s estimated to reach approximately $8.1 trillion in sales. The growth of ecommerce means connecting with customers throughout your buyer’s journey is essential. How adaptable your business is to industry trends will determine your potential for success.
A digital commerce plan can help you navigate changes as your business scales. Digital commerce expands the ecommerce business model for an integrated approach that tailors the user experience to their interests and preferences.
It’s the digital transaction between you and your customers, providing an end-to-end process for selling products through channels without human assistance.
Businesses that fail to adapt to the evolving digital commerce ecosystem are at risk of being left out of tomorrow’s online marketplace.
Discover how a digitally targeted approach gives you a competitive edge that can attract new customers, increase sales and lifetime value, and produce a more profitable journey.
Digital Commerce vs. Ecommerce: The big difference
Digital commerce and ecommerce are often used interchangeably but address different aspects of the buyer journey. Knowing the differences can help you better connect with customers at every touchpoint.
Ecommerce involves creating a website or store to sell products and services to customers. Then the process ends after the order shipment is complete.
However, the customer journey starts before they visit your store and continues even after order fulfillment. So ecommerce only covers a single aspect of the entire customer cycle.
When a customer views a social ad or discovers your brand from a Google search, digital commerce is happening. Digital commerce is the 2.0 version of ecommerce, a fully optimized successor.
If ecommerce is the method, digital commerce is the strategy for delivering a personalized user experience.
Digital commerce encompasses the full scope of processes and technologies in selling products and services online, from initial customer engagement and acquisition to retention and post-purchase activities.
Such as search engine optimization, market research, product descriptions, CRM, retargeted social advertisement, data analytics, payment software, supply chain management, and the logistics involved in efficiently shipping items from the warehouse to your customer.
Why digital commerce can help elevate business
Digital commerce’s adaptability lends your business various benefits. The approach has the potential to grow your store’s reach, differentiate your business from competitors, embrace emerging technologies, and create an immersive shopping experience that sustains your brand in a global market.
Lower overhead costs.
Digital commerce reduces the need for physical infrastructure and associated maintenance of brick-and-mortar stores, leading to cost savings.
The online self-service features, automated systems and efficient inventory management minimize errors and require fewer employees to manage operations, administrative tasks, and extensive customer service support.
Ability to scale quickly.
As business operations scale, digital commerce provides flexibility and agility to adapt quickly to market changes and customer demands. Attention to digital commerce will make it easy to introduce products or services, respond swiftly to market trends, capitalize on growth opportunities, access detailed customer data, and optimize your strategy.
Digital commerce allows you to go anywhere your customers are and provide a highly targeted user experience.
One way that it increases your store’s visibility is through effective SEO. Optimizing website content, meta tags, titles, and product descriptions with relevant keywords can improve your search engine ranking and make it easier for customers to find your storefront.
Other strategies that help new customers discover your products include paid advertising, social media marketing, email campaigns, and customer reviews.
Greater transparency in pricing and product info.
Digital commerce platforms empower customers with accurate and detailed product and pricing information, customer reviews, and tools to compare and evaluate products effectively. This transparency fosters trust, builds confidence, and improves the overall shopping experience.
Providing real-time stock availability information reduces the likelihood of ordering out-of-stock items and avoids potential frustrations or delays. This insight is particularly vital for large-scale retailers with a fluctuating inventory.
As 47 percent of online shoppers abandon their carts because of unforeseen charges like shipping and taxes, added price transparency ensures customers understand the total cost (base rate, discounts, promotions, shipping fees, or taxes) before purchasing the product.
With price comparison tools, Q&A sections, and live chat functionality, customers can make informed decisions based on their desired balance of price and value.
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Digital commerce challenges to keep in mind
New technologies and multiple access points to customers provide more engagement opportunities but can create unique challenges. Being aware of potential pitfalls can help you spot areas of concern and take action early to deter customer frustration.
Converting customers online.
With so much attention and resources focused on capturing new customers, retention is sometimes overlooked.
You’ve already done the hard work of convincing customers to buy your product or service and delivered on your promise, so it’s much easier to re-engage them for future purchases. It can cost five to seven times more to acquire a new customer than to nurture a previous shopper.
Use surveys and product reviews to gauge customer satisfaction and changing interests. Retarget users through marketing automation to offer promotions and incentives.
Distinguishing your business from competitors.
Technology decreases operational costs and buying time, but the dark side of a humanless process is impersonal experiences that do not distinguish your brand from the competition.
Remember that customers are more than numbers. Review your digital commerce strategy and employ social listening to identify what consumers want, think, and feel.
Implementing effective website security.
Multiple touchpoints and third-party technologies — payment processing platforms, content management systems, and increased access controls — can put your store at risk of a security breach.
Regularly updating software, employing encryption for data transitions, training team members in best practices and conducting routine security audits can assess vulnerabilities and implement multi-step authentication that protects customer data and maintains trust in your brand.
Meeting new technology expectations.
Customer expectations can change overnight. The digital commerce approach that works today could be yesterday’s news. Technologies constantly evolve and each year brings new features.
You must update your strategy regularly to stay current. Integrating emerging trends like artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, voice commerce, and augmented reality will position your brand as an industry leader.
Growing trends in digital commerce
The foundation of a successful digital commerce platform is innovation. To win in this ecommerce game, you must work from a customer-centric mindset, look to the future and keep pushing the limits of what’s possible.
Leveraging technologies and trends like sustainable and headless commerce streamlines the customer experience and supports a seamless and convenient buying process.
Seventy percent of ecommerce decision-makers believe AI will help personalize their customer journey. AI uses sophisticated data analysis, logic-based techniques and machine learning to optimize options, define actions, trigger behaviors, interpret patterns, make predictions and product recommendations, and automate the marketing strategy.
The data-driven technology assesses user age, gender, location and interests to provide tailored content customers want to see and engage with. It mimics human cognition and functionality to solve problems and learn new customer information.
Incorporating AI into your digital commerce strategy can help improve user engagement and sales and removes friction during the purchasing stage.
Personalization and recommendation engines
Customers don’t want to feel like they’re one of many. They are willing to pay more for a unique user experience, and, in contrast, a poor encounter can keep a customer from returning for future business.
Consumers are more likely to engage with your store when the marketing message addresses their needs and interests. A tailored user experience encourages the belief that you care about your customers and builds loyalty to your product and brand.
A unique user experience should span all channels, brick-and-mortar locations and apps. Each interaction should flow into the next for a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s journey, including site searches, targeted ads, audience segmentation, and product suggestions.
For instance, when customers shop in person, have them opt into a digital newsletter or email list to receive promotions for future purchases.
Data can help you deliver personalized content across interactions or even allow consumers to create their own experiences. Continuously analyze insights to better guide consumer behavior, make a good impression, and enhance content.
According to IBM’s 2020 research, most customer interactions would happen without a human agent. A study by Gartner estimates that by 2027, approximately 25% of organizations will specifically use chatbots as their primary customer service channel.
Chatbots provide instant and automated customer support by answering frequently asked questions, addressing common issues and troubleshooting errors. They can simultaneously handle a high volume of inquiries, reducing the need for human intervention.
With this scalable method of engaging with customers, delivering personalized experiences and automating routine tasks, you can improve satisfaction and increase efficiency.
Headless and API-driven ecommerce.
In a headless ecommerce architecture, the front-end presentation layer or customer-facing website and application “the “head” is separate from the back-end or commerce functionality, “the body.”
The separation allows you to update, customize and develop the front-end independently using any technology stack without impacting the back-end core commerce functionalities such as inventory management, order fulfillment, and payment processing.
APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) facilitate communication between both ends.
A headless approach provides flexibility, scalability, and compatibility with various front-end technologies. You can easily integrate features to adapt to a changing market and ensure customers receive consistent, relevant and efficient content and commerce experiences across touchpoints.
Combining headless commerce with your physical store operations can ensure accurate updates on inventory and shipping.
Voice command is a hands-free and intuitive way for users to interact with technology. It enables users to interact with digital devices, such as smartphones, smart speakers, or wearable devices, using spoken commands or queries rather than typing or clicking.
Users can initiate product searches, add items to their shopping carts, place orders, and track deliveries when manual input is impractical, such as while driving or multitasking. This feature is appealing to users seeking a quick, effortless transaction.
Virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri utilize user preferences and shopping histories to provide personalized product recommendations and offers based on individual needs and interests, increasing retail sales conversion rates.
As virtual assistants rise in popularity, voice-activated technology will play an increasingly prominent role in how people engage in online shopping.
Sustainable digital commerce.
Customers today are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions. Sustainable digital commerce addresses these concerns by offering eco-friendly products, reducing packaging waste, optimizing logistics to minimize carbon emissions, and promoting responsible consumption.
Sustainable digital commerce emphasizes transparency and ethical practices throughout the supply chain. It provides customers with information about product origins, certifications, and eco-labeling, enabling them to make informed choices.
Brands that offer high-quality, durable products that sustain longevity and product lifespan, reduce the need for replacements and drive innovation in product design, packaging, and operational practices.
By aligning with customer values, sustainable products minimize negative environmental impacts and promote social responsibility.
Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
The lines that once existed between the physical and digital worlds are blurring. Augmented reality (AR) technology creates a highly-stimulated view of an alternate world using images, sound, feelings, and even smell to emulate reality.
Augmented and virtual reality allows customers to test, experience and form an emotional connection to your products before purchasing, like a virtual eyewear station or a digital fitting room.
This trend helps you understand consumer preferences without wasting time, resources and money on unneeded physical in-store inventory.
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The final word
We’re in a new age of commerce. The modern customer may seem demanding, but they know what they want, and it’s your job to know as well.
With digital commerce, you can assess user interests and behaviors throughout your channel landscape to provide a tailored, cohesive customer experience.
Utilizing analytics, trending technology, and customer feedback, you can deliver a process intuitive to users changing behavior and growing product demand.
When considering digital commerce platforms, look for a tool that unifies your interactions and provides a straightforward path for navigating the process.