The latest crisis has shown how important it is to know how to sell online. The threat of a "second wave" is driving stores into cyberspace.
It’s not enough to make a website. You have to bring people into it. The cost of attracting visitors to web stores is off the charts. One is left grievingly remembering the days when industry pioneers were busily taking up space on the new marketplace. Search engines were small and prices were green.
Meanwhile, new habits are already forming, and it’s important to be in the right place before the competition. To do this, I suggest taking a mental stroll into the not-too-distant future of the Internet in general and online shopping in particular. And the direction will be given by trends.
Somehow we’re all used to the idea that a serious Internet business is built on the computer Internet. And meanwhile…
Getting away from the competition
According to Digital 2020 more than half (50.1%) of the time we spend online is now spent on cell phones.
Trend 1: Mobile Internet is starting to dominate
Analysts at App Annie claim that mobile apps now account for 10 out of every 11 minutes of mobile device use, and only 9% of our "mobile time" is spent browsing the web. We have to admit that mobile apps are playing the role of stores here. The rules of the game are very different. And the competition is much lower.
Trend 2: Mobile apps play the first fiddle in the mobile environment
Breaking the constraints
Usually mobile stores work with a small range of products/services. The limitation is directly related to the small screen of the smartphone.
We are used to using the classification menu to find a product. A price list of several thousand items, in a small window, turns into a nightmare with pictures (how could it be without them). The large amount of data makes the classifier inefficient.
In the early days of the Internet, there were "yellow pages of the Internet" site classifiers. They are forgotten. Now, we think it’s normal to write a query and find the answer in the top ten search engine results.
We seem to be getting better at communicating with the computer. Monologue : " Look what I got. ", changes to dialogue : " What do you want? ". If you fantasize, it is quite natural to tell the telephone : " I want a cappuccino. " and get it, somewhere nearby.
Trend 3: Among a lot of data, searches for queries close to natural communication dominate.
By replacing the classifier with queries, we get a few pluses.
- No need to puzzle over which is more important: the category Boots/ Shoes or Men’s/Women’s.
- It is easy to use a complex product with characteristics. For shoes it’s size and color, for cars it’s car make or body number.
- We, encourage the user to formulate a desire. This helps the online seller monitor the progress of the visit and help the buyer without asking unnecessary questions.
Evolving artificial intelligence is making query language more natural and accurate. Successful cases are known with photo or voice queries. Note that the same Yandex Alice is most useful in the mobile sector. You can’t take a photo or video from your computer as freely as you can from your phone.
The smartphone is least for screen communication, most for voice, photo or video communication.
About half of the 3.7 hours a day that people spend with their cell phones in hand is spent on social networking apps and messengers.
Trend 4: The most popular mobile apps are social networks and messengers.
Time to take stock and notice that the internet is shifting toward messengers on mobile devices. Here’s a surprise! Supporting communication, that’s the direct purpose of the phone. Could it be argued that this is where the center of gravity of the entire Internet is headed?
Let’s think: Internet is first of all a means of communication. A cell phone is a means of communication which is always at your fingertips. Communication with whom? Not only with a person but also with a program. It’s time to remember the next trend :
Trend 5: Chatbots are gaining popularity
More generally, I would phrase the general direction as :
The development of the Internet is going in the direction of natural human communication
with a person or machine through a mobile terminal.
I’m far from radical in thinking that everything else will die out. I think that on the horizon of the next 5-10 years this kind of client-server architecture will prevail, with cell phones represented by their owners as the main clients. Without claiming to be a pioneer, let’s look at online trading through the prism of this formulation.
The online store of the future, in my opinion, should be a mobile app with natural communication abilities. Your interlocutor will be a live consultant or a chatbot. An advanced messenger.
Communication between the customer and the consultant at a distance is very relevant against the backdrop of the pandemic. Such a store can be an outlet for offline stores in the face of lockdown.
It’s not cheap to write a mobile app. And giving it the capabilities of a serious chat room is even more expensive. How do you get to that clearing before anyone else?
Reducing the cost
If we find an existing application, it will seriously reduce the cost of the project. Let’s pull the chatbot logic on the "face" of existing messengers.
And you know, it turns out that there is not much choice so far… Chat-bots can be made in many messengers one way or another, but the capabilities of Telegram are noticeably wider. The most important difference for us is the ability to program buttons (remembering and typing in commands by hand, not everyone likes). If you know analogues, please write in the comments.
In addition, channels – make Telegram a social network. And this is not a superfluous plushie in the abilities of an online store.
Telegram with a chatbot is an inexpensive basis for your own online store.
All you have to do is program the internal logic of the chatbot, and the multiplatform Telegram will take care of the rest.
I made an attempt to create such a chatbot. What I got, after installing Telegram, can be seen at https://t.me/repassBot