Gartner, the prestigious technology research brand, has identified five major areas of digital commerce that will be transformed due to changing customer behavior patterns and accelerated digital investment in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Digital commerce has played an important role during the pandemic because it has allowed companies to continue to offer their services to their customers. Some of the changes in customer behavior, such as online shopping and becoming more aware of their health and safeguarding, will be long-term," said Sandy Sheen, Gartner\'s Chief Research Officer.
"Measures implemented by organizations during the pandemic, such as enabling go-to-market models and new ways to attract customers, are likely to remain part of the market, fostering the evolution of digital commerce," she added.
These transformations must be taken into account by IT and application leaders to adjust their investment plans and technology platforms in order to keep their digital business offerings competitive for years to come. The five areas are as follows:
Contactless commerce allows customers to make their purchases without touching public structures or hardware, and without being in physical contact with another person. Gartner predicts that by 2024, 80% of orders and replenishment will be non-physical contact for most organizations.
Businesses and consumers will start seeing more contactless payments for in-store purchases, such as those already offered by many food establishments. More companies will offer contactless payments, contactless collection and deliveries to customers, and enable contactless commerce operations where organizations can use robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and computer vision to help employees with store-level marketing, pricing, and collection and packaging in warehouses.
Visual configuration tools allow sales agents and customers to see a 2D or 3D graphical representation of the product they want to order, with the options and features they\'ve selected, without having to visit a physical showroom.
Although visual configuration has now been adopted slightly, with fewer than 1,500 deployments worldwide, software vendors have reported a significant increase in business due to the pandemic. In the future, these tools can reduce the need for samples and showrooms and enable greater customer self-service when purchasing configurable products.
This mode of commerce uses live video streaming to display products and interact with buyers in real time to encourage purchases. The live streaming feature can be integrated into trading platforms or offered in online and social media markets with purchase links or paid features.
"Many organizations saw sales fall after the emergence of COVID-19. In China, companies turned to live streaming platforms, such as Douyin and Kuaishou, to connect with customers. Although live trading has already been used for fashion and beauty products, many traditional organizations began using these platforms after the pandemic completely closed its offline businesses," Sheen said.
"Outside China, live trading is at an early stage with few live streaming platforms or vendor solutions; however, brands that have leveraged these broadcasts to sell or engage the customer are having early success. Some retailers offer personalized purchases using live chat to help customers find the right products in their stores, even though audiences and sales are still lagging behind at this stage," she acknowledged.
Many organizations changed their sales models during the pandemic to prioritize digital channels such as live chat, video chat, and social and mobile apps to attract customers. These participation and sales models are expected to continue after the pandemic, as they are as effective as traditional forms of sales.
As younger generations enter the workforce and improve their purchasing power, customers are expected to experience engaging experiences like those they get from B2C purchases. In addition, technologies that promote an intuitive user experience, and that have comprehensive purchasing and management functions available anytime, anywhere, are estimated to gain ground.
Business markets are online marketplaces operated by organizations that allow third-party vendors to sell directly to end customers. These markets represent not only a new set of technologies to drive digital commerce revenue, but also a fundamental change in the business model for commercial organizations, driving them into the digital business. This contributes to improved experiences for buyers and sellers, greater efficiency in buying and selling processes, more efficient supply chains, and new revenue streams.
Organizations that implemented business markets before the start of the pandemic suffered fewer disruptions than those that only sold their own products. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, organizations that have operated business markets for more than a year will see an increase of at least 10% in their digital revenue.