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Jan 11, 2018

3 Online Retail Technology Trends That Will Shape 2018

INAP

The Future of Online Shopping.

The future is looking bright for eCommerce.

It’s no secret that more shoppers are turning to the internet to make their purchases. Just look at the record sales numbers reported by online retailers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2017. During the same period, less money was spent at traditional retailers compared to previous holiday shopping weekends.

But what is driving these massive gains in market share and revenue for online retailers?

Here are three technology trends that will help online shopping continue its growth in 2018.

1. Voice Purchases

The future of eCommerce may run through voice-directed purchasing.

In 2017, 40 percent of millennials used a voice assistant prior to making a purchase. The proliferation of voice assistants ­– such as Siri, Alexa and Google Home –­ will ensure that number will continue to rise.

[Tweet “In 2017, 40 percent of millennials used a voice assistant prior to making a purchase.”]

A few businesses are already capitalizing on voice purchasing technology. In 2016, Domino’s allowed customers to order a pizza by speaking to internet-connected smart home devices.

Johnnie Walker, a distributor of Scotch whiskey, has also used voice assistance to help customers learn about their product and receive cocktail recipes.

Voice-directed purchases benefit both retailers and customers by reducing barriers and increasing accessibility. As voice-directed devices and online retailers become further integrated, voice purchases will drive even more eCommerce behavior.

2. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is expected to take another big step forward in the world of online shopping in the next year.

AR changes aspects of a viewer’s surrounding reality while keeping the user grounded within their actual physical environment.

For example, customers can use AR to see how products would look in their homes or virtually “try on” clothing before purchasing. Sephora uses AR within a virtual makeup app that allows customers to see how beauty products would look on them before purchasing. And Home Depot’s mobile app lets customers use their phones to place anything from faucets to doors in their homes so they can see how it fits in before buying.

Using AR can break down the single greatest barrier to an online purchase – the inability to see or feel a product in person. Through AR, customers will be able to visualize and test out products before making a financial investment. This will greatly reduce both abandoned shopping carts, as well as product returns.

3. Chatbots and Machine Learning

Finally, 2018 will see greater and more widespread use of chatbots within portals.

Chatbots, or automated applications that simulate human conversation, have already made significant forays into eCommerce. For instance, there are already chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger app that can be used to purchase items, get health tips or call for a cab.

2018 will bring a greater availability of chatbots as well as more natural and helpful interactions. The original chatbot was a relatively simple application. By handling queries and answering specific requests, the chatbot mimicked human behavior. The real epiphany though came with machine learning. As data became more readily available, chatbots became more responsive and adaptive to user needs.

As a result, chatbots will be more intelligent, and thus more helpful for customers looking to make any financial transaction, whether it’s purchasing a new pair of shoes or booking a flight.

Infrastructure Driven eCommerce

Consumers only see the end-user technology designed to make online shopping easier and more user friendly.

They probably aren’t thinking about the most important part of their experience – the robust technical infrastructure that supports whatever app, website or platform they are using.

Successful online retailers require a powerful hosting service that can handle high traffic at any time. Customers will flee portals that do not load properly and won’t trust environments with slow or error-prone transactions.

At INAP, our team provides high-performance colocation, hosting and network services to ensure your online retail environment is lightning fast, even during the busiest shopping periods. Contact us today to learn more about our flexible and scalable options to improve your IT infrastructure and drive revenue.

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Feb 14, 2013

Can your ecommerce website handle Valentine’s day traffic?

INAP

ecommerce website handle Valentine's day trafficAhhh, it’s Valentine’s day. Visions of roses and chocolates dancing in your head? For those who may still be struggling with an original gift idea for your sweetie, think Teddy Bears!

For one company, the most popular items sold online for this romantic holiday are in fact, teddy bears. But not just any teddy bear. These fluffy hunks are dressed to the nines with names like “Love Bandit,” “Heart Throb” and “Frog Prince.” The Vermont Teddy Bear Company offers teddy bears — small to tall — matching teddy bear and PJ sets, and more.

Vermont Teddy Bear has been creating personalized bears since 1984. While they sell many popular items including Pillow Puppets, Hoodie-Footies and PajamaJeans, their teddy bear business is most popular around Valentine’s Day. So naturally, one can see how traffic spikes to their website could be cause for concern. In fact, network traffic greatly affects Vermont Teddy Bear’s business, especially since 80% of their products are sold online.

As an Internap customer, Vermont Teddy Bear’s website is always prepared to handle the demand surge around Valentine’s Day. Using our Performance IP™ and Content Delivery Network (CDN) they can successfully mitigate the risks of latency and incomplete orders.

Read the case study or watch the video to learn more about the technologies Vermont Teddy Bear uses to help keep their bear, and other, business humming along. Or, if you have a great idea for a new Vermont Teddy Bear, please fill out and submit this form.

Photo: Vermont Teddy Bear Co.

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Nov 30, 2012

The never-ending online retail season

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Online Retail Mobile ShoppingOur recent blog post discussed the readiness of websites for events such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but hold your horses — there is more to come in this crazy holiday shopping season.

The holidays already start well before Halloween and Black Friday is likely to extend to the end of November. In fact, since retailers opened stores on Thanksgiving Day and extended sales, Black Friday became “BLACK WEEKEND.”

With the growth of mobile and tablet devices in recent years, the way online shopping is done is gradually changing, too. According to Adobe and other sources, mobile shopping is becoming a formidable opponent to more traditional online shopping methods. Retailers are also tapping in to social media and offering mobile-only deals. Naturally, there was a plethora of coverage on these new trends, so for MASHUP FRIDAY here is a roundup:

Oh, and stay tuned for Green Monday on December 10 and Free Shipping Day on December 16 — seriously. Green Monday kicks off what should be the heaviest week of the year for online shopping, where we could see several billion dollar spending days, punctuated by Free Shipping Day on Friday, December 16.

If your business wants to deliver satisfying mobile experiences contact an Internap CDN specialist or check out our CDN Buyer’s Guide.

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Nov 29, 2012

Could your website handle Black Friday or Cyber Monday?

Ansley Kilgore

website handle Black Friday or Cyber MondayBlack Friday and Cyber Monday have once again generated record-breaking profits for online retailers. With sales estimated at $1.5 billion, representing a 30% increase over last year, consumers show no signs of decreasing their online spending. But without the right IT Infrastructure, connectivity and Internet performance in place, you risk your business missing out on the billion dollar shopping weekend next year.

Whether you already have an established ecommerce presence, or if you’re a retailer looking to expand into the online sales arena, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to be successful.

Prepare for seasonal upticks – Is your website prepared to handle a huge influx of visitors? While you can likely predict everyday traffic, how will you prevent performance issues that can result from sudden increases in demand? Your Internet provider may compensate you for downtime, but that will not make up for lost sales and disgruntled customers.

Optimize performance – Simply put, faster Internet performance equals a faster buying experience for online consumers. Even with redundancy in place to minimize the risk of downtime, your site can still suffer from poor performance. With reliable, secure connectivity and faster speeds, online buyers will become repeat customers, resulting in more sales for your business.

Reduce latency – Successful online retailers understand that latency, or delays in the transmission of data over the Internet, can severely impact the user experience. This problem can be prevented with optimal routing of traffic to reduce latency, jitter and packet loss. With so many online shopping options available to consumers, there is no room for error when it comes to optimal website performance.

Year after year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday break sales records and exceed expectations. Successful online retailers are prepared to handle these high-volume shopping events because they know their customers expect a seamless experience.

A good example of this is one of Internap’s clients, Vermont Teddy Bear. Since 80% of their products are sold online, the ability to scale up during busy season is critical. With Performance IP™, Content Delivery Network (CDN) and colocation services from Internap, Vermont Teddy Bear was able to handle a 700% spike in traffic with no downtime. With minimal effort from the IT staff, they were able to support the holiday rush while ensuring connectivity, reliability and uptime for their online business.

To learn more about how Vermont Teddy Bear uses Internap’s combined services to ensure a high-quality customer experience and accommodate increases in demand, read the case study.

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Ansley Kilgore

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