What is the Next Big Thing for eCommerce?

Let’s consider the fads, must-have’s, game changers, and other selling points of ecommerce that have come and gone over the past few years. These are the things that ecommerce SAAS providers have rushed to integrate and support, either to be the first in the pack to do so or to catch up to the rest.

You’ve seen them listed in those ridiculous side-by-side check off list comparisons that, hmm, just might be skewed in favor of one of the two. You’ve also seen them in EMAIL BLASTS from your ecommerce provider or, in the case of Volusion, your previous ecommerce provider who still has their salespeople call you to “introduce you to Volusion.”

Previous Must-Have Features

Here are a few in list format for brevity and, off the top of my head, maybe even chronological order. Keep in mind that at one point each one of these was considered a must have feature that would make or break an online business:

– Single checkout page
– PayPal integration (which has been a continuous work in progress for many years)
– Live shipping rates
– Newsletter support
– PCI compliance
– SEO friendly URLs
– Countless shopping feed integrations
– Wish lists and gift registries
– Mobile-friendly version
– Canonical url integration
– Google Checkout
– Product reviews
– Schema.org snippets
– Some sort of anti-fraud integration
– Anonymous checkout, which is the opposite of…
– …Social sign in
– Google Stores integration
– eBay integration
– Amazon integration
– Mobile Responsive design

I’m sure there are more but this is a satisfactory list.

So, what is the next big thing for ecommerce stores to have and for ecommerce providers to market and sell? I have some guesses and, yes I know, some of them sound ridiculous.

Unified Cardless Payment Method

If you, as a store owner, are hardcore about facilitating alternative payments from your customers then you have a dizzying array of payment options and your checkout page is overloaded with providers’ branding. Credit card, COD, Paypal, Google Checkout/Wallet, Amazon Payments, Bitcoin, Bill Me Later (soon to be PayPal Credit), and more.

Like the VHS vs. Beta and Blueray vs. HD DVD, I can see one big player stepping in to dominate the online payment scene. I don’t see it being a wallet service like Paypal or Google Wallet, but some sort of other cardless payment system with enhanced security and authentication.

What can you do?
Keep an eye on VISA’s V.me and MasterCard’s MasterPass. Follow product update notes, news releases, and information on integration. Get a hold of someone at your ecommerce provider and share links and product announcements with them. Banks will be promoting this soon and account holders will start adopting it shortly thereafter. I’m already using it. This is the future of payments.

Ethnicity / Gender Recognition

Sensitive topic, I know, but what marketer wouldn’t like to identify your ethnicity, gender, or approximate age using the forward-facing camera on your device, and then serve tailored content to you? And be honest – when a visitor reaches your T-shirt site, wouldn’t you like to dump them into either the Men’s or Women’s section immediately? Or if the device recognizes someone as Indian American, maybe drop them into the category for $700+ watches instead of the front page showcasing your cost-conscious watches that appeal to a broader audience? Be honest! I also see some company foolishly branding it as “Racial Recognition” when “ethnic” is the non-offensive and correct term.

What can you do?
Being a realist about who buys what doesn’t make you a racist or an ethnocentrist; it’s just more data to feed into the algorithms and advertising campaign planner. Do some serious thinking, planning, and note-taking about what demographic is likely to purchase your products. You will be a step ahead if this sort of marketing technology works its way into ecommerce, and you won’t have to pay a consultant to figure it out for you.

Voice Navigation Support

If we can put a device’s camera to work then we can surely put the microphone to work too.

Imagine landing on an ecommerce site and saying “search t-shirts,” and the software knows to enter the text “t shirts” in the search space and execute it. Or saying “category long sleeves,” which corresponds to a navigation category.

And imagine how this would change faceted navigation – which is already the superior system for finding products. Take landing on Amazon for instance, this is what you would say: “Search TV. Refine. Brand LG, size 60, resolution 4k. Go.”

No looking around for the search bar, no hunting for or expanding navigation menus, and no pecking at tiny faceted navigation checkboxes on your phone or tablet screen with your big oily finger. “Help” takes you to your site’s FAQ. “Contact” takes you to the contact page. “Checkout” takes you directly to the checkout page. Maybe “Pay” will automatically invoke the cardless payment method that I first mentioned.

I promise you this is coming.

What can you do?
Be ready and plan ahead, and don’t be shocked when this finally shows up on a site that you’re viewing from your tablet. Print the root page of your web store on paper and jot down simple words next to your most clicked links. Fewer syllables will be the best. Again, the idea is to be a couple steps ahead so you can focus on integrating quickly instead of planning your strategy.

What do you think?

Every blog and article author always asks for reader feedback, but this time I really encourage you to share your thoughts on the future of eCommerce software. What do you think is coming? What do you want to see? What would make your job as a store owner so much easier? What would you use? What would your customers use?

About Dean Peckenpaugh

Dean offers small business consulting services at DeanP, LLC - specializing in e-commerce and operations. Visit the contact page to request a consultation.