A major key to business success is recognizing shifts and how to leverage them to stay ahead of competitors. In eCommerce, this often involves understanding how new technology can help you improve operations and reach more customers. Here are three technology trends currently changing the eCommerce landscape that you should consider investing in for greater customer engagement and growth.  

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) involves overlaying digital enhancements onto the real world via smartphones and similar devices. Though it’s likely most recognized for its entertainment value in games and social networking apps, AR is being increasingly used in retail to create memorable experiences. Shoppers can virtually try on clothes without leaving their bedrooms or see how furniture fits in their homes before buying. Marketing is improved by incorporating AR aspects that make ads “come to life” when viewed through a smartphone. Brands seeking to improve their omnichannel experience can enhance their in-store experiences with mobile apps that use AR to create shopping assistants to help customers make more informed purchases - and ultimately drive sales

The excitement this technology brings can give your business a competitive edge in the form of an improved shopping experience. In fact, 62% of shoppers prefer brands that can offer this capability. Additionally, 71% said they’d shop at stores more frequently if they integrated AR. Enhancing the way people shop can make the difference between someone casually browsing your website or store shelves and regularly shopping from your online store.

Voice Search

More than 20% of mobile searches are done via voice, with this number expected to grow by 2020. Beyond smartphones, voice search functions are becoming household staples via the rise of smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. It’s important to allow customers to utilize these functions to conveniently research or buy products.

Consider implementing voice controls in your brand’s mobile app to allow shoppers to say a few commands and let the app do most of the work for them. If you sell lower-value, frequently replenished items, such as household products or cosmetics, enabling customers to buy products as soon as they run out just by asking their phones or smart speakers to do so can also drive sales.  Invest in and develop skills for these smart home devices to let shoppers easily interact with your brand via voice commands. You may also want to incorporate key voice search terms into your products so they can be part of the search results when potential customers are doing their research.

This is especially useful for attracting Millennial and Gen Z consumers. Because they are more familiar with the technology, they’d be more likely to embrace it, as indicated by 31% of consumers 14-17 years old and 23% of 18-34 year olds claiming to use voice search regularly. With markets becoming dominated by these age groups, we can expect voice search to become a typical stage in the shopping process. In fact, 40% of Millennial shoppers have used voice-activated assistants to research products before purchasing. It’s best to start figuring out if implementing voice search as part of your mobile strategy makes sense for your business.  

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already being used across various industries. eCommerce is no exception, as it has been a pivotal tool used by many brands to simplify the shopping experience. A common AI task is improved personalization through predictive marketing. Automating the process of making product recommendations and suggesting promotions by analyzing customer purchase histories has attributed to brands growing their revenues by 6-10%.

Customer service is also an area of expertise for AI. Chatbots allow businesses to satisfy customers’ needs for on-demand assistance, especially outside of business hours. With 67% of consumers saying they’ve received support via chatbots, using AI can help brands maintain strong relationships with customers. Research even suggests that chatbots will save more than $8 billion annually by minimizing the need for call centers, in-house representatives and thousands of daily phone calls.

We can only expect new forms of technology to emerge and create lasting effects on the eCommerce industry. Staying on top of these trends and understanding how they can help your business is vital for maintaining strong relationships with consumers and maximize sales.