From the ever-increasing adoption rate of smartphones to the rise of China and India as top-ranked global Internet users, 2013 holds promise for fascinating trends to emerge across industry sectors and across the globe, giving rise to what can only be seen as E-commerce 3.0.
E-commerce 1.0 was all about discovering the web and setting up the first online shops. They were imitations of the offline world, with virtual shelves providing breadth and depth of product. Version 2.0 saw these websites transformed into clover multimedia portals that tried to engage users. They were not just about “pull,” where shoppers searched for a specific product and bought it, but also “push” – convincing customers to snap up that special deal, to follow an impulse.
E-commerce 3.0 will be defined by a seamless customer experience across all devices and touchpoints, as well as unprecedented rate of change as new business models and capabilities arise.
Success, indeed survival, for many enterprises in this brave new world of E-commerce 3.0 will depend on their ability to extend their reach into these new markets and paradigms, to track customers across all devices and domains and to make sense of the data pulled from disparate sources and splintering ecosystems.
2013 and the Rise of Apps
In the evolved state of e-commerce, we will increasingly interact with the online world through apps on our mobile and tablet devices.
While many apps today can be described as “minimum viable solutions,” offering only partial features of traditional software packages, the future of apps and their ability to disrupt should not be underestimated.
- The ability to host massive multiplayer social games on mobile devices in conjunction with stronger mobile game engines will increasingly attract users to online games, potentially reducing the market for console and PC games.
- The rise of interconnecting apps, whereby the user chooses specific apps for specific tasks and chains them together, may reduce demand for “one size fits all” software.
- App-specific ecosystems will continue to rise to the fore, potentially fracturing traditional online communities such as Facebook, Flickr and other social media/content sharing sites.
In the post-PC world, user experience will be key:
Instead of producing designs and deliverables to meet business requirements, user experience professionals will collaborate with business strategists to co-create solutions that successfully engage customers and exceed competitive offerings.
As touchscreens work their way deeper into product design, the future belongs to those who see the potential of these new plates of glass and are willing to explore novel ways of consuming and creating content or increasing business productivity.
In the emerging domain of neuroscience, brain scanning techniques will reveal hidden preferences that lie deep within a consumer’s brain. Using this knowledge to explore interface design and use allows for potential products to be tested and perfected before they are created.
Globally, the digital revolution in developing countries such as China, India, Russia, Brazil and various African nations is not only leveling the playing field, but also expanding it with unique offerings such as M-Pesa, the mobile phone-based money transfer and micro-financing service, which has gained a strong foothold in Kenya and Tanzania.
In China, the handset market is exhibiting strong growth with mobile user numbers estimated at 1.13 billion. Since September 2011, the growth in app revenue in Russia, Brazil, Mexico and Turkey ranges between 76% and 91% in the Apple App Store for iPad. For Russia, the growth in revenue in Google Play is 250% – more than twice the growth rate of the United States. Since games became available in April 2012 in the Apple App Store for iPhone in Brazil, the revenues increased by more than 80% in one month alone, making Brazil the single largest app market in Latin America.
As the market shifts away from being North America-centric, enterprises may do well to ask themselves if their online strategy and product offerings are fully prepared for the stresses and strains of internationalization.
The explosion of data fueled from new sources in the era of E-commerce 3.0 will create tremendous opportunities for increasing interactions and conversations with customers.
Understanding and transforming this data into meaningful real-time interactions is where event-driven architecture will come forward. The faster data can be recombined, reconstituted and re-examined, the faster new connection points can be added, new interfaces designed and new ecosystems exploited.
The strength of one’s capabilities in this regard will depend upon how robust one’s back-end e-commerce platform is, how well it is planned to handle increasing volume and growth and how well it can expand to encompass emerging capabilities. As such, look for technologies that enable supreme flexibility and efficiency, such as Rest Level 3 APIs and HTML5, to come to the fore.
Navigating the Sea Change of E-commerce 3.0
As 2013 unfolds, we will be entering into a brave new phase of online consumption and interconnected digital experiences. From complex financial transactions on our phones to riding in Wi-Fi enabled, self-driving cars, the infinite combinations and possibilities of the digital universe hold remarkable promise for those who are prepared to quickly adapt to the new paradigms of E-commerce 3.0. Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.