Image via Viktor Hanacek

The Future of Buying

Holly Cardew is the Founder and CEO of the eCommerce photo editing company, Pixc.

eCommerce is always in constant flux and in the past decade we’ve seen the rise of online retail, a surge of handicrafts via Etsy and similar sites, and the development of platforms like Shopify that make eCommerce easy for the average small business owner.

But what is next? Where is eCommerce headed? While the exact destination is yet to be known exactly, the future is bright and the opportunities are endless.

Is The Time of Wearables Here?

Apple caused a stir with its new Apple Watch that it announced will be available on April 24, 2015. According to CCS Insights, Apple is expected to sell 20 million in the first year making it the most successful smart watch in history.

Everyone is focused on the cool new features of the device and impact it will have on CE industry, but nobody is looking at the impact it will have on how it will impact how people shop. If the Apple Watch proves to be as successful as past devices, it could have significant impacts on online and mobile shopping.

Retailers today can send push notifications to your mobile phone, but this brings a whole new set of data into the fold and the ability to personalise information in a whole new way. For example, if you’re walking past a Nike store they could alert you about a new shoe to get that’s based on the number of miles you typically run in a week. A restaurant could even target you with a healthy meal option based on your dietary restrictions.

The Apple Watch may in fact be the new frontier with personalised shopping.

A Shift To Clicks To Bricks

Creating online-only retailers was the way to go for a new business. And while this still remains the case for many, we’re seeing a massive shift from the successful e-tailers opening their own physical retail stores.

Nasty Girl opened its first retail location in Los Angeles last November. Warby Parker announced late last year that it is adding storefronts to its retail strategy, after opening its ninth retail store recently. Online-only retailer Bonobos owns and operates 10 “Guideshops” to give its customers an in-person experience.

Companies are making this shift, because as Sophia Amoruso, CEO of Nasty Girl,states: “Our customers are shopping brick-and-mortar as well and we want to be everywhere that she is. “We want to engage with her in the real world.”

We will also see more branded spaces in the future. Brands like Chobani are opening stores in SoHo. Never before would we have expected a yogurt company from opening up its own brick and mortar store, but large retailers still get 90 percent of their revenue from retail stores.

The advent of startups like Storefront are making it even easier for companies to get retail spaces. It’s not just about the pop up store. It’s about giving consumers a particular curated experience for their lifestyle.

Streaming Customer Service

The Meerkat app and Periscope have exploded in the last few months and they have done one amazing thing — shown how streaming could be used for customer service and direct consumer feedback.

Consumers have more and more to say about what they buy, and companies want to hear from them. They are giving them more opportunities to share their opinions and feedback. For example. BaubleBar does live video chats as a form of customer service for its jewelry company. The new service gives customers can interact with a stylist through in-browser chat.

Companies continue to experiment with new ways to connect with customers, and I believe we’ve only seen a glimmer of what will happen on this front.

The Virtual Reality of Online Shopping

How cool would it be if you could do all your shopping virtually? That’s not too far away, actually.

Many people are aware of Oculus Rift and its ability to create a completely immersive, computer-generated environment. What many people don’t know is it’s impact on eCommerce.

There are companies beginning to create ways to sell through virtual reality right now. For example. UK superstore Tesco is developing a VR shopping platform as a way to sell its products to customers in a new and innovative way. Just check out this video about how they plan to sell soccer balls.

The future is exciting and it will be interesting to see how eCommerce uses technology to transform itself to better serve consumers in the years to come.

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