What you need to know about the digital landscape
The world has changed and still many of us are not well versed in the emerging trends and tech that is waiting for us.
So what are the biggest five technologies you need to keep your eye on?
- Web 3.0
- Digital Wallets
Some see Web 3.0 as the future of the internet - its natural evolution - but what actually is it? Essentially it is the third generation of the internet and a 'decentralised online ecosystem based on the blockchain'. It may never replace Web 2.0 and there is some scepticism as to whether it's even possible.
Whatever your opinion, there's no doubt that Web 3.0 (should it come to fruition) will have a significant impact on the mindset of the consumer and their expectations on where, how and when they buy.
Where did Web 3.0 come from?
- Web 1.0 - content (trying to find information in the tangle of information on the web).
- Web 2.0 - mega-platforms, horizontal search (social networking, online communities, user-generated content, online shopping...).
- Web 3.0 - blockchain, AI & machine learning, vertical search (user intent and personalisation).
Benefits of Web 3.0
- Improved Security, authentication of digital assets and regulation compliance - promising 'individual ownership of one’s identity, information and assets'.
- More immersive virtual environments - from improvements to graphics and bandwidth speed (think metaverse).
- Connected digital devices - PCs, smartphones, cars, home appliances, fitness devices etc.
- No third party is required - reducing costs and increasing competitiveness.
- Better customer relations - companies will be more accountable to their customers and able to build trust through transparency and authenticity.
- Supply chain management - problems will be quicker and easier to identify, silo's eliminated and delivery smoother.
From an ecommerce point of view, enhanced methods for interpreting user data and understanding shoppers in more depth (which will be possible with Web 3.0) will bring a highly superior ecommerce shopping experience.
For this revolution in functionality to take place, the web, in general, will need to grow more accustomed to non-conventional data streams and the sharing of data across multiple applications.
The metaverse is 'a term used to describe the virtual world that exists online'. An individual can enter a virtual world as an avatar and interact in a digital space with other avatars on platforms such as Roblox, The Sandbox and Fortnite.
However, these platforms are not the metaverse which will go beyond gaming.
- Virtual shopping and restaurants
- Mixed reality
"...a fully immersive internet, where we will be able to access augmented and virtual reality and interact with all sorts of environments using persistent avatars and innovative digital technology..."
Benefits of the metaverse
- Immersion & interaction - VR will enable total immersion into new worlds and open our eyes to new possibilities.
- Connectivity - a tool to connect humans and widen experiences.
- A force for good - sharing stories on our planet, a way to protect our health.
- Organisational culture - there are clear opportunities within the world of work and working interactions with VR meetings and avatorial interactions.
- Problem-solving - using the metaverse to understand your customers' needs and what problems they need to solve.
When it comes to ecommerce, the metaverse could have a direct impact on the profitability of a businesses. It will allow for greater personalisation without the "multiple boundaries of the physical world", and virtual experiences for the customer could reduce return rates, build stronger engagement and better customer experience.
Find out more about the Metaverse jobs of the future
Since the introduction of bitcoin in 2009, thousands of other cryptocurrencies have emerged. Whilst they saw significant growth during the pandemic, more recently we've seen a bit of a drop in value.
As a (currently) unregulated industry, both businesses and the average population have had hesitancy to get involved. However, with web 3.0, blockchain and crypto so well linked, this conversation is far from over.
Benefits of Cryptocurrency
- Accessible network for monetary transactions - control of funds and transactions.
- Reduced transactions cost - dealing with the customer directly removes the middleman.
- Anonymity and privacy - customers do not need to give personal details and so customer security is enhanced.
- Easier cross-border transactions - all transactions regardless of local or international are the same bypassing restrictions and making global trading easier and faster.
Ecommerce businesses rely on seamless transactions. With the use of cryptocurrency, payment processing is almost instantaneous for both vendor and customer. It is also more secure due to complex encryption. However, volatility in the market means trust is low and having incoming and outgoing revenue as a mix of crypto and cash could prove to be problematic.
NFT's or non-fungible tokens are 'a digital asset that links ownership to unique physical or digital items' and are now even collectable.
"Primarily, NFTs allow businesses to create digital proof of ownership, attendance, and even transference to different experiences they offer their customers."
Additionally, NFTs are transparent and instant
Benefits of NFTs
- Build community - offering your customers the chance to buy into a digital community gives a deeper connection.
- ROI - 'NFTs are transparent and instant.' They can’t be edited or altered - meaning that the creator of the token will always see a return whenever it is sold.
- Earn passive income - as an established 'land-owning player in the metaverse' you can lend/rent your NFTs to gamers who cannot afford to buy their way into a game with their own NFT.
So, are NFTs the future of ecommerce or a threat?
You could work with early adopters of the metaverse by offering physical products along with NFTs allowing customers' avatars to "own the kind of products they themselves own in the real world".
They're also instant, meaning that your customers get what they want straight away vs waiting for a physical product (even if it is next-day delivery)... and if you create something truly collectable, you'll be delivering something far more valuable.
"NFTs have already entered the mainstream and have been auctioned by two major houses, Sotheby’s and Christie’s. Major fashion brands are also jumping on the bandwagon, like Gucci with their first-ever digital-only sneaker."
(Multi Channel Merchant)
Digital wallets store digital assets like NFTs, credit cards and airline tickets. Think Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal OneTouch and Venmo.
Brands should focus on their digital wallet strategy through evolving things like smart NFTs as a secure login to loyalty and rewards.
- store funds
- make transactions
- track payment histories
Benefits of digital wallets
- Convenience - you no longer need to take out a wallet full of cards - it is all stored on your phone.
- Improved customer experience - streamlined checkout means less likelihood of abandoned baskets.
- Alternative payment options - including Bitcoin and Paypal.
There are clear benefits for ecommerce businesses which proactively encourage the use of digital wallets. According to Payments Journal, "71% of consumers who always or sometimes use digital wallets do so in place of entering their credit card information directly into websites"... reducing their concerns about "exposing their payment data to retailers". Additionally "40% of consumers of all ages said they always have their mobile phone within reach" reducing payment friction points further.
"E-wallets protect data through encryption and passwords. They can process payments and transfer money from mobile phones using one-click or expedited mobile checkout."
Future-proofing your business with digital skills
It's clear that all these tech advancements will hold huge opportunities for ecommerce businesses with regard to CX. However, that's not all.
When tech advances, so do the digital and technical skills needed to ensure businesses maintain momentum.
Skills of future-now
- Digital literacy - ability to interact easily with emerging tech.
- Data literacy - understanding data and turning them into actionable insights.
- Semantic content marketing – creating targeted content based on determining the intent of the user.
- Advanced UI (UX) – creating totally frictionless experiences.
- Immersive marketing – creating content suitable for virtual worlds as well as ways to integrate virtual content into the physical environment.
- Digital asset creation – designing and producing assets such as NFTs.
"It's time to ask yourself, how will consumers and business buyers want to interact with your brand in the metaverse? What new value can you create for them in the metaverse beyond their current experiences? How will those expectations reshape your current website? When will your company take cryptocurrency as a form of payment? What does an NFT-based identity and loyal card system mean to your current program? Are there other forms of digital assets that will strengthen the relevance of your brand?"
Read more about trends;
Wunderman Thompson Future Shopper Report 2022
Recruitment Trends 2022
Content Marketing Trends 2022
Ecommerce trends to watch 2022
Consumer Trends to watch in 2022
Why Some See Web 3.0 as the Future of the Internet - WSJ
What does Web 3.0 mean for your business? - Tech Target
Ed on the metaverse - Deloitte
A Short History Of The Metaverse - Forbes
What Are the Business Benefits of Cryptocurrency - European Business Review
What Are the Benefits of Digital Wallets? - GoCardless
What CMOs Need To Know Now About Web 3, Metaverse, Crypto, Digital Wallets And NFTs - Forbes
The Future of Ecommerce With Web 3.0 - Silicon Angle
The metaverse: a revolution for e-commerce! - Eminence
How NFTs Create Value in the Metaverse - GoBankingRates
Photo by Shubham Dhage on Unsplash