Digital Commerce in the New Normal: An Overview
According to Gartner, digital commerce may be defined as the buying and selling of goods and services using the Internet, mobile networks, and commerce infrastructure. A deep dive of this would include all marketing activities that support such digital transactions, including people, processes, and technologies associated with analytics, promotion, pricing, customer acquisition and retention, and customer experience at all touchpoints throughout the customer buying journey.
Digital has emerged as the primary touchpoint for consumers in many industries as the digital revolution continues to shape consumer lives, industries, and economies every day. Digital commerce has gained prominence over the last two decades as consumers have increasingly switched to consuming products and services on various digital channels.
The onset of COVID-19 and the resulting enforcement of lockdowns across countries gave way to the emergence of online shopping as the primary means of commerce worldwide across categories such as fresh produce, groceries, clothing, and electronic devices. With the unpredictability in the supply and distribution channels, several manufacturers took to D2C or Direct-to-Consumer platforms. As more and more brick-and-mortar stores went online, even consumers adapted by opting for curb-side pick-ups or BOPIS (Buy Online Pick up In-Store) trend across different categories.
Research from the customer data platform Amperity shows how purchases have changed during the COVID-19 times. Purchases made on social media rose 84.7% YoY, driven by a record usage of social networks. Purchases made directly from retailer’s websites grew 57.9% YoY, and purchases for the response to email grew 22.1% in March and April compared with 2019.
Digital Commerce in Consumer Tech & Durables Industry
While there is consensus on the rising preference for digital channels, consumer behavior and sentiment have affected the demand for consumer products differently. A glance at the Adobe Digital Economy Index for April 2020 in the consumer tech & electronics department revealed some interesting insights:
- Online electronics prices have been experiencing deflation at a steady rate since 2014. However, as COVID converges offline and online economies, electronics prices are flattening out for the first time in a while.
- Computer prices crept up in April 2020, as demand increased, and electronics prices, as an overall category, appear to be on an upward trajectory.
- BOPIS orders saw 208% YoY growth between April 1 – 20 as people avoided shopping at retail outlets to adhere to social distancing.
- The sales of audio mixers, microphones and microphone cables, etc. have seen a 459% increase.
- In general, the USA witnessed a surge in e-commerce with a 49% increase in daily sales.
Changes in Consumer & Business Scenario Pre and Post-COVID-19
Three Ways How AI is Impacting Digital Commerce
While there are innumerable artificial intelligence applications in digital commerce, there are three primary AI solutions shaping e-commerce companies:
- Recommendation Engines: Insight mining through the use of advanced analytics algorithms can help companies run through consumers’ past shopping behavior to predict future trends. Recommendation engines are already being used by the bigwigs such as Netflix and Amazon, and their adoption is expected to increase. ML-enabled recommendations for supplementary products are also a possibility.
- Chatbots and Virtual assistants: Most digital commerce sites have invested in state-of-the-art virtual assistants and chatbots to ensure 24×7 customer support. Built using AI technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), the bots ensure that consumers can reach concerned departments at any time of the day, through chats or calls to resolve issues.
- Personalization: With the use of big data that encapsulates previous browsing history, purchases, and other choices, companies can target consumers with personalized or targeted offers to customers. A leading fast-fashion retail store has deployed AI capabilities to ensure that consumers end up with the right fit of clothes, thereby facilitating returns and improving repeat purchases.
Leveraging AI Accelerators to streamline Digital Commerce
Digital innovations are changing consumer demand and competitive dynamics in the consumer marketplace, drastically influencing consumer purchasing behavior and decisions. Enterprises need to study customer sentiment and channel strategies, the status of demand and supply chains, product strategies, and last-mile delivery to ensure robust functionality. BRIDGEi2i’s Data Science expertise, portfolio of AI-powered solutions, and consumer industry context have helped enterprises build customer loyalty, drive incremental sales growth, get more value for marketing spend, and enhance supply chain planning and operation through AI Accelerators. These are:
BRIDGEi2i’S Watchtower™ leverages proprietary self-learning algorithms for mapping metrics relationships, correlation, and anomaly detection to deliver real-time actionable insights and proactive alerts on key business metrics. Digital commerce companies could utilize the watchtower for sales and pricing, customer experience, or to track brand performance. Curious about how the Watchtower™ improved digital marketing effectiveness for an electronics company?
The Recommender™ allows enterprises to allocate resources better, recommend the right products to the right customers at the right time, and prescribe the next best action for decision making, both for stakeholders and customers. The recommendation systems help cross-sell/upsell and also identifies personalization offers for consumers.
The Optimizer™ allows businesses to simulate and test scenarios for better forecasting and planning, optimal spend allocation, and effective utilization of resources, making legacy processes more effective, either through automation or re-engineering. The Optimizer™ plays a vital role in the pricing of commodities available on digital commerce sites.
The Converser™ leverages conversational AI in conjunction with the other accelerators for enterprises to enhance worker enablement and customer experience by driving customer engagement.