Ten years in just a few months. That's how much of an evolutionary leap the eCommerce pandemic has made, with an acceleration never seen before. Thanks also to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, 80% more consumers have ended up shopping on the web. But it is not only habits that have changed – the paradigm has changed. While for some time now the trend in eCommerce has been to chase exceptional performance in terms of efficiency, especially in terms of punctuality, today the watchword is to overcome the barriers between the digital experience and the in-store experience. We are in a new era, where Kotler's prediction of the 'frictionless experience' is now a reality. The customer only wants one thing: to buy without interruption.
The New Centrality of the User
Putting the user at the centre is leading to implementations in online sales processes that until a few months ago seemed impossible even to imagine. Personalisation, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are just some of the new tools at the service of eCommerce. Buyers are looking for a single large purchase flow, where the web is at the service of the physical shop and vice versa. Increasingly, in fact, even purchases completed in traditional shops are being made on the web. Or people use physical stores as showrooms and then choose to buy online to have more freedom, perhaps with regard to return policy or payment guarantees. Not to mention the role of mobile devices – the thousands of devices that no one is willing to part with anymore. An analysis of European consumer behaviour shows that 3 out of 4 people who search for a brand on their smartphone will visit a shop of that brand within 24 hours.
Ecommerce Turns Into U-commerce
A year after the outbreak of the pandemic, it is as if eCommerce has given way to a more evolved form: u-commerce – where the 'u' stands for 'unified', in line with the concept of the great purchasing flow, but also for 'you', i.e. the customer. And it is precisely the customer's demand, which is becoming more and more circumstantial also because of the rules linked to the spread of the virus, that is redrawing the rules of the new purchasing paths.
In all sectors, whether we are talking about B2C or B2B, fluidity is the guiding principle: the end user – regardless of whether they are a customer or a buyer – wants to move from the web to the shop, from social networks to contact centres, in perfect continuity.
Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to the Rescue