Imagine you are a car mechanic, lying underneath a client’s car, trying to fix its engine. Your hands are greasy, but you need to get a new spare part to get the old Ford back on the road soon. So what are your options? Getting to your PC, leaving a total mess on your mouse and keyboard? – Probably not. Taking your mobile phone to make a call or use a spare part app? – Also quite unlikely. How about just saying the article’s name and be done with it? We have got a winner!
Although admittedly, this use case is quite particular, companies are increasingly becoming aware of the fact that providing a PC-based webstore or a mobile app is not the best answer in all contexts. The customer journey is diversifying, the number of touchpoints is increasing. Let’s take a look at how brands are establishing new touchpoints to account for this development.
German fashion retailer Zalando has just announced a joint project with the Google Assistant. Starting end of October 2017, Zalando customers will be able to use the new Gift Finder and interact with it via a chat interface. They can ask the virtual guide questions and get personalized recommendations based on their requests. According to Nicolas Borg, VP Strategy at Zalando “(T)he collaboration with Google allows us to move another step ahead in the area of Conversational Commerce, and to further explore a field that is going to be enormously relevant for the future of online shopping.”
US retail chain Walmart is experimenting with voice commerce. They have teamed up with Google recently to allow shopping in their online store via the Google Home device. Since September 2017, according to the retailer, customers can access hundreds of thousands of products via voice and order them online directly.
Voice devices are also becoming relevant in the automotive sector. German car manufacturer BMW Group has recently announced to integrate Amazon’s Alexa into all its BMW and MINI models from mid-2018 onwards. With a SIM card built into the vehicles, it is not even necessary anymore to use an external device. The personal voice assistant is integrated, and drivers can access many Alexa skills for services, shopping, and entertainment.
Augmented & Virtual Reality
For their home décor line Atelier Swarovski, the well-known jeweler has recently launched a VR app that allows visitors to experience products in a virtual environment. The cooperation with Mastercard makes it possible for customers to use the Masterpass digital payment service and purchase the items directly in the virtual experience.
More furniture: Swedish retailer IKEA has just launched the so-called IKEA Place app. It makes use of the ARKit in iOS11 and lets their customers place pieces of furniture in their own home. The app scans the rooms in question and allows customers to decorate it – in the augmented space. The realistic 3D objects can be turned and viewed from all sides.
For its online grocery delivery service, German retailer REWE also provides an app for the Apple Watch. If customers are on the go, they can quickly fill their shopping lists on the watch without having to use their smartphone. In the background, those lists are synchronized in the cloud and customers can order the lists from their favorite mobile device or in the desktop webshop.
Post-Webshop World is Driven by Powerful APIs
There is one thing all the examples have in common: they all rely on flexible APIs making sure that information travels freely between those new devices and the backend processes. If a chatbot is not able to give the right answers almost in real-time and the AR app is missing its product information, customers will have a bad experience and might turn their back on those new technologies. At commercetools, we provide a cloud-based commerce platform which has a fast and flexible API and scales automatically – making it the platform for the Post-Webshop era.
Seeing all those examples – and this is only a small portion of the ones that are out there – it’s safe to say that the times of the good ole webshop are definitely over. And not only for car mechanics, for sure!
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