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Adopting technology ‘key to e-commerce success’

It’s no secret that the opportunity for growth in the e-commerce space is huge. According to the February 2016 NAB Online Retail Sales Index, Australians spent an estimated $19.2 billion on online retail in the past 12 months – only a fraction (6.6 per cent) of traditional brick and mortar sales. But the e-commerce landscape is changing, and retailers need to take note if they want to capitalise on this opportunity.

As more consumers take their shopping habits online, and onto their devices, they have come to expect more from their e-commerce experience. According to a recent survey done by SLI Systems, 77 per cent of retailers surveyed believe that heightened consumer expectations have changed the face of the industry in the last year. Competition from international retailers and large marketplaces like Amazon, that might look to establish a base in Australia, has put additional pressure on local brands to adapt, with a quarter of retailers concerned about the rising threat from overseas.

In response, retailers are now placing technology at the centre of their e-commerce strategy. According to the survey, nine in 10 e-commerce retailers have implemented new technologies in the last year alone.

To capitalise on the opportunity for growth, while remaining relevant in a shifting e-commerce landscape, it’s clear that technology is key. Here are the three top technologies retailers are implementing in 2016 and beyond.

  • Personalisation

In order to differentiate themselves from the market, many retailers have increased the personalisation of their content and improved their site-search capability. According to the survey conducted at SLI Connect, personalisation is the top priority for retail brands in 2016. Simple tools such as “you might also like” or “viewers who viewed this product, also viewed” can be a good way to encourage users to shop further on your site.

  • Virtual Reality

Virtual reality holds great promise for e-commerce, as it merges bricks and mortar stores with the accessibility of online shopping. The survey found that around a quarter (23 per cent) of retailers were keen to implement virtual reality as part of their 2016 e-commerce strategy. Adopting virtual reality can heighten the consumer experience, allowing shoppers to visualise what the product actually looks like and offering an immersive experience.

  • Rise and rise of omnichannel

Around two-thirds of consumers now start their shopping on one device before switching to another. This means that an omnichannel approach is essential for retailers, ensuring that every touch point – from the catalogue in the mail to instore to online, mobile and tablet – is aligned and ready to go. At the SLI Connect event, those surveyed found that 52 percent had optimised their site for mobile and tablet, which is a great step in the right direction.

The e-commerce landscape is growing and changing quickly. The brands that adapt are the ones that will be the winners in this new world. Those that don’t, will likely be left behind.

Aparna Gray is the head of marketing APAC for SLI Systems.

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