E-Commerce has changed quite a bit over the years. If you imagine the early days of online shopping you will remember that it was fairly basic. Most early e-commerce websites consisted of a catalog of products with basic filtering and search functions, a shopping cart, and a few payment options. A customer would look for the product they wanted, add it to their shopping cart, and then go check out. At the time this was enough to get the job done, but now there is so much more that you need to do in order to run a competitive e-commerce project. These days it takes optimization, personnalization, and even automation to make an E-commerce project successful.
SEO Jump-starts the Evolution of E-Commerce
Of course all of the above mentioned features are still used today but they have changed over time. One of the first big things that forced the e-commerce sector to adapt was search engine optimization. Google quickly became important and forced web developers to optimize product prices and descriptions while worrying about friendly website URLs at the same time instead of just hosting a website with a simple product catalog. E-commerce websites needed to show up on google in order to compete with each other to show up higher on the list of search results.
The Rise of Mobile Users
Then, in addition to the challenge of SEO optimization, mobile phones came into play bringing with it another set of challenges and opportunities for e-commerce developers. In order to take advantage of the ever increasing rate of mobile users, developers needed to optimize their websites for mobile compatibility. Creating an app in addition to this also gave an edge. Mobile access to websites has overtaken desktop visits and e-commerce businesses have been taking advantage of this. This rise in mobile users has also encouraged developers to find more secure payment methods in order to increase mobile conversion rates. BlockChain technology is a good example of progress in this area.
When speaking about the improvement of payment methods in regards to e-commerce it is interesting to note how many traditionally non e-commerce websites have begun to start selling things on their website. Facebook is one of many websites that has a secondary function as an e-commerce platform in addition to its original function, giving users the power to buy and sell products.
There were also new features linked to mobile devices that e-commerce have taken advantage of. One of the first interesting mobile features that was used in e-commerce was geolocation. Physical stores that used the web were able to advertise to nearby mobile users and even show them the exact distance they are from their retail location and geolocation was and still is useful for forming targeted advertising campaigns.
Big Data and AI (Artificial Intelligence)
The continual growth of Big Data also greatly changed the e-commerce landscape. It became necessary for players in the e-commerce field to find ways to exploit the massive amounts of data available to them. To start with, Big Data is useful for categorizing users and separating them into groups. This makes it easier to create and use targeted newsletters and product promotions.
AI also takes advantage of Big Data. Smart Algorithms push a range of products on users by profiling each individual user based on their activity. This has gotten much more advanced than the simple similar product recommandations of the past, AI is continually improving targeted advertising.
The introduction and use of AI in E-commerce and in the IT field in general is still in its infancy but it is a trend that is beginning to take off right now. All websites are beginning to become intelligent. The end goal for artificial intelligence in web development is creating a user experience that is customized for each individual user.
Focusing on User Needs
Throughout the evolution of e-commerce we can see that its focus continually centered more and more on user needs. From the humble e-commerce stores of the past sprang forth new models with more and more features. Mobile optimization, region based UIs, ease of use, more secure and diverse payment methods, and even AI chatbots have reshaped the e-commerce experience.
Creating a successful e-commerce project is much more than simply creating a web page with a product catalog and a few payment options. To stay ahead of the game it is necessary to master SEO, optimize for mobile platforms, exploit the gold mine of Big Data, and it has even become necessary to begin using AI features to keep on the cutting edge.
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