In 2019 we see a whole host of technologies maturing. Think facial recognition, voice recognition and image recognition. Taken together, these technologies make new forms of ‘automatic commerce’ or a-commerce possible. This new model of business will soon be the ‘norm’ for many retail purchases.
It’s all about automating the customer journey and leading retailers such as Amazon, Alibaba, JD.com and Nike are all leading the way. These businesses are using automated warehouses, drone technology and even AI route planning to shorten the time from customers placing orders to receiving them.
A-commerce will affect consumer behaviour and expectations
With the technology now available to solve the age-old problem of – ‘not enough time’ – consumers are now able to benefit and soon expect brands to deliver in ways unimaginable in years gone by. Thanks to algorithms and smart devices – browsing, negotiating, purchasing and delivery arrangements can all be automated.
For example, the app, Finery was launched just over a year ago to provide a solution to the cupboard full of clothes but nothing to wear dilemma. Its Wardrobe Operating System allows consumers to outsource their fashion retail needs by finding and uploading purchases from the past present and future and merging them into a fully automated wardrobe in one place. You could say it’s Spotify for clothing.
The app syncs to an email account and automatically adds fashion purchases to a 'wardrobe,' organised by designer, colour and type. Users can also save items to a wish list and receive notifications such as sales or price changes.
The technology is at a tipping point now and it seems the possibilities are endless. Retailers with creative solutions to customer problems will be the winners. Fast moving daily use products in particular, must keep up with technology. Smart devices and sensors will scan and manage your fridge and pantry to detect products you may run out of soon and make decisions on where to buy these. Machines will decide where and when your delivery will take place – because they know your schedule and most convenient locations. They will also have the capability to get you the best deal either in one store or multiple suppliers.
A UK financial technology company innovation is another great example of a-commerce in action. REVOLUT uses geo-location to automatically initiate travel insurance when it detects a consumer is in a different country. Users pay per day and a grace period allows for cancellation if it is not required.
It is also worth considering the impact a-commerce will have on consumers’ expectations in bricks and mortar retail and is almost certainly going to put pressure on brands to ensure they deliver a consistent, joined-up experience. There will definitely be a heightened expectation of convenience and retailers need to ensure they provide it.
A world where you will be selling to algorithms as well as humans will also have implications for pricing strategies, marketing and messaging. Businesses are going to have to evolve to stay ahead of competition.
A-commerce may still feel a bit ‘Big Brother’ to some, but it seems consumers are not only accepting it, they are expecting it.