The development of e-commerce platforms has always largely been defined by the consumer first and foremost. This is in the sense that the deciding factors in user-compatibility, as well as the adoption of technology and the use of popular platforms is being spearheaded not by developers, sales or marketing departments, but instead, a technically confident customer base who calls the shots through continued support of services and technologies.
Investing time and money into an e-commerce platform puts you at the mercy of the consumer, whom through open access networks and decentralised markets are able to shape and define their own dealings with e-commerce platforms. Whilst the goods and services will stay the same, the means and methods of acquisition will always change based on established consumer patterns of usage and expenditure.
Consumers are becoming much more comfortable buying goods through mobile devices, and as such an increasing number now order via mobile site or dedicated app. It is predicted that e-commerce platforms that lack adequate mobile capabilities cause a high rate of shopping carts being abandoned, as well as users not returning to the site, where-as a smooth mobile experience encourages customer satisfaction and most-likely a repeat sale. The ultimate aim will be to provide mobile users with the same level of customer journey satisfaction and fluidity that is provided to traditional desk-top users.
Developments in mobile devices, such as bigger screens on phones and smaller versions of powerful tablets, have driven mobile conversions up sharply over the course of 2014. E-commerce developers will be taking advantage of faster mobile data and new technologies to make their platforms more readily available and much easier to buy from.
In anticipation of major spending periods for consumers, e-commerce platforms will dedicate greater resources to events such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday, both of which routinely break revenue records for e-commerce sites. E-commerce platforms of the future will be built to deal with greater consumer demand, highlighted over the 2014 period by frequent technical issues, including many sites having to cease weekend trading and being unable to meet customer expectations.
This revenue is also driven yearly by key holidays such as Christmas. Better allocated resources year-round will make e-commerce sites and platforms more reliable across all major spending periods, and prevent many small businesses from being held back by poor planning, such as a lack of material shipping goods at the end of the year.
Tailored Consumer Experiences
As we spend more time leaving our ‘digital footprint’ across the internet, websites gleam a better understanding of what we spend our money on, when we spend it, and how much we spend. As such, online customer experiences are actively evolving to our individual needs. This involves large scale collaboration across search engines, social networks, and e-commerce platforms, and the development of specifically tailored consumer experiences providing targeted buyers with products and services they will likely be most interested in through multi-channel integration.
As such, many well established e-commerce platforms employ anticipatory shipping. Based on consumer patterns of spending and intense analysis of big data, sellers predict when a customer will purchase an item, and as such will pre-emptively ship it to the area of intended delivery in preparation for the actual order being placed.
Broader Payment Options
Following consumer trends, a wide variety of payment options and methods is essential to the ongoing success of an e-commerce platform. E-commerce payment systems should always be open to a range of currencies and methods of payment. Within the e-commerce platform of the future, all of these payments will be processed from a single provided payment service; commonly dubbed a smart internet merchant, with the ability to consistently process a multitude of payments from around the globe.
It is also predicted that multi-currency payments will be processed alongside forms of crypto-currency such as Bitcoin. Currently, only select e-commerce platforms accept Bitcoin as a method of payment, but with steady growth in usage and value, many believe that online traders would be the first to benefit from broader payment options as consumers adopt new methods.