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eCommerce - Digital Media Innovation

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Some of you won't agree with me including e-commerce under the digital media banner. Still, I feel quite an affinity with the discipline since my time trading content the EST way (that's when one can buy, e.g. a single episode or boxset). In principle, the platform is the same - from conversion funnels and clever UX to shopping baskets, product catalogues, and dynamic pricing. However, e-commerce also fully embraced digital storytelling. Like traditional digital media, using engaging content, e-commerce allows companies to tell their brand story, showcase their products and services, and create a sense of community with their customers in informative and also entertaining ways.

Additionally, e-commerce platforms can use data and analytics to understand and target specific customer segments, just like digital media companies do. It helps to create a more personalised and relevant shopping experience for customers. And yes, all digital media is after personalisation, monetisation, and relevance in the crowded marketplace. ...and just think about all the talent they also need to manage. I'm talking here about unruly divas and influencers, whether human or virtual.

Here are some recent and not so recent, examples of e-commerce innovations:

  1. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) for product visualisation: These technologies allow customers to see products more realistically and interactively, making it easier for them to make informed purchasing decisions. One of the first ones was IKEA's AR app, which lets customers see how furniture would look in their home before buying, allowing them to explore different room designs. And the fashion industry is one of the first permanent residents in the metaverse, with Metaverse Fashion Week and digital Gucci handbags for a mere $300.

  2. Personalised product recommendations: Machine learning algorithms analyse a customer's browsing behaviour, purchase history, and even moods to make personalised content recommendations. For a long time, Netflix reigned with the most sophisticated recommendation engine in the pure media world. Yet, Amazon's Dynamic Personalisation Engine is now considered one of the most advanced recommendation systems. It not only incorporates feedback from other customers, such as product reviews, to make recommendations that are likely to be well-received but also uses natural language processing to understand customer queries more sophisticatedly by analysing the intent behind the query, not only the keywords used.

  3. Social commerce and virtual influencers: It has become a norm for social media platforms to make it easier for customers to purchase products directly from social media posts without leaving the platform they are already using. However, it was groundbreaking in its time. A good example is Instagram's shopping feature. And with Insta come influencers. But even they are being replaced by robots, and a baby doll Qai Qai from Serena Willians and Alexis Ohanian has now become a virtual personality with 4M followers. Go figure!

  4. Subscription services: This is where e-commerce took a leaf from Netflix's first content subscription model innovation. Subscription services allow customers to receive regular deliveries of products, such as clothing or beauty and can help to increase customer loyalty and sales. Of course, Amazon does it well, but also so the flurry of services like Freddie's Flowers or HelloFresh GO and other subscription services that delivers a monthly box of beauty, grooming products or groceries.

  5. New purchasing models: There is a flurry of new platforms driving innovative payment models. Klarna, with its "Buy now, pay later." Another example is Splitwise Inc. or Split The Bill, bill-splitting apps that allow individuals to easily split expenses with friends and family. It allows you to input the costs of shared expenses and then calculate the correct amount for each person to pay.

These are just a few examples of the many innovative technologies and business models in e-commerce. Some already became an industry's minimum benchmark for any newcomers, despite being groundbreaking back in the day, but that's unavoidable faith of every innovation in the long term. As the relentless product maturity curve never sleeps, constant product and business model renewal and a long-term horizon innovation portfolio are a must for your organisation's sustainable growth.

So how do you define your long-term innovation strategy? Get in touch for tips and advice.

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