How changes in technology could affect your online business

Technology is always evolving, and often as consumers we have to adapt to accommodate these advances. In business, technological advances create both opportunities and threats – and of course we want to be able to maximise these opportunities and minimise the threats wherever possible.

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In the early 90’s we witnessed the internet taking its first steps, and now it has become a tool that billions of people worldwide rely on massively. The internet has, of course, been adopted by millions of businesses worldwide as this is an opportunity that so many different types of business can make the most of. But the internet is not the only technological advancement that has changed the business landscape so dramatically in recent years, and there are definitely some new things that you can expect to see a lot more of in the near future. We have listed 5 of the current technology trends below that could affect your online business:

Popularity of Social Media

In recent years, social media has taken the business world by storm as the platforms open up opportunities for businesses to connect with their target markets more closely and more often. Social media has been particularly successful for small businesses, where many have seen sky-rocketing success in recent years, which is likely due to the relatively low cost of use and promotion on social media.

Social media is an excellent tool to be using for your business as it broadens your online presence, improves trust with your customers and opens up the possibility that more people will discover your brand on their own, reducing your workload (slightly!). Also, as there is such a large number of people using social media, you’re guaranteed that your audience will be there so anything you post or share will help you out.

Of course, with so many businesses using social media at present, there is a chance you could get lost amongst the noise so you need to stand out in your own way. Our advice here is to start off small, and get creative – people love to see what you’ve been up to but they don’t want to see the same thing all the time.

Rise in Mobile Use

Perhaps fuelling the popularity of social media is the rise of mobile use. With more and more people becoming mobile, more and more opportunities are opening up for businesses, such as the development of apps providing the potential of push notifications directly under your target audiences’ eyes, or the ability to be accessed anywhere, anytime.

However, there are also threats to the rise of mobile – namely that if you have a website, you need to have one that is mobile-friendly as not only will this irritate mobile-using customers causing them to leave your site, but it may cause Google to list your website lower in searches as a result.

Artificial Intelligence

Whilst still a daunting premise to many, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has grown massively in popularity recently. With Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa (to name a few), individuals are becoming more and more reliant on this kind of technology due to the ease of use. Services such as these mean that personalisation has become the standard for users, and people expect things that are tailored to them and their needs.

An example of a brand using AI in an ecommerce setting is Amazon’s Alexa which allows individuals to use voice purchasing. There have been some stories of things not quite going to plan but this tech has completely changed the way people shop online, and is something to look out for in the future.

Amazon have also since developed the Amazon Dash Buttons which are branded buttons that you position around your home and press when you have run out of the product you have previously linked it to – whether that be pods for your coffee machine, cat food or dishwasher tablets! With an Amazon Prime account, your products can be delivered the next day at the push of a button.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is experienced as an interactive augmentation to the world we see around us, unlike Virtual Reality (VR), which changes what we see around us so that it is entirely different – like we are in a different world. These advances in technology are still very new to many, but they have been seen recently in the gaming world: for example, the mobile game Pokémon Go (launched in 2016) uses AR technology to place the Pokémon characters in the world around you via a smartphone.

Despite this popularity for gaming purposes, AR is slowly becoming more and more popular in day-to-day life and is ebbing out into the world of ecommerce. For example, AR can be used to allow customers to “try on” clothing or accessories or to see how certain products may look in their home. A brand that has implemented AR in this way is IKEA, who has developed the app IKEA Place (seen in the below video) which was launched in 2017 that allows customers to envision how products will look and fit in their home. The app uses the camera in a smartphone to display the selected item of furniture perfectly to scale in order to reduce the worry about buying online where customers cannot see the products in person.

Of course, technologies like these are an investment for any business, and as this technology is still fairly new, there is no strict guarantee that customers will use it, but it’s definitely one to watch.

Different Payment Options

Technological advances now even affect how your customers can pay – contactless and mobile payments have become standard for many people and so they will often now expect this service in store. As for online shopping, keeping on top of the latest payment options is essential, and there are newer payment options being introduced such as buy now, pay later or even monthly instalment options. This type of payment provides customers with that instant gratification and may encourage sales more frequently, particularly if your product is slightly more expensive, as it will seem like less of an investment for some customers at the time of purchase.

Pay later schemes can be seen as a bit of a risk for businesses as the money is not coming straight in, but this could pay off as it may be just what your customers are looking for.