The new e-commerce age is just in its infancy – born of the continued evolution of consumer and technology. Retailers are pushing boundaries in a quest to apply insights into human psychology online. Gone are the days when e-commerce was just another channel to engage in transactional exchanges. We’ve now arrived at a crossroad where consumers judge a brand’s online presence as they would a brick-and-mortar store, from its furnishings, colors, smells, and background music to the interpersonal experience between customer and salesperson.
Jason Goldberg, founder and CEO of Fab smartly referred to this new frontier of online shopping as “emotional commerce”. The visionaries of this paradigm shift – those brands that look deep into the future and not just at its periphery, don’t find this landscape daunting or highly complex. In fact, they view it as something that would have sooner or later brought online retailer and customer together like a DNA model – intricately linked in a mutual and complimentary dance on a molecular level.
Just as DNA is one of the building blocks essential to all living organisms, the interconnected and intimate relationship between customer and retailer creates a backbone for the new era of e-commerce. Imagine the double helix DNA molecule, as we apply it to a model for modern online retail. One strand of nucleotides represents the online retailer, and the other represents the online shopper. Just as each nucleotide strand is composed of different nucleobases, retailers and customers are each comprised of their own individual traits and offerings.
The evolution of commerce isn’t about buzzwords such as intelligent matching or omni-channel but is rooted in the ancient and simple concept of supply and demand. The demand, or “consumer strand” is a sum total of his or her moods, preferences, occasions, impulses, financial capacity, etc. The brand’s products and emotional quotient drive the supply, or “retailer strand”. How well a brand does online depends now more than ever on how well it can empathize with and cater to the customer that has just landed at its e-commerce store.
In DNA molecules, the two helix strands are connected and stabilized by hydrogen bonds between their bases. DNA is able to replicate itself only through the pairing of complementary bases. In online retail, brands and consumers are similarly connected by technology. Online technologies are the catalysts that enable brands to deliver the right product and customer experience, and this process can also be successfully replicated when both sides are correctly matched.
These technologies go way beyond just providing an online storefront. Technology must achieve more than just giving the end customer a name but also tap into their instincts to best understand their hearts and behavior. Online shopping technologies should include subtle yet well thought out processes from discovery to checkout that provide consumers with a seamless and emotionally enjoyable journey. In fact, the more elegant an e-commerce technology, the less it should feel like a separate task within the entire brand experience.
The function of DNA is to store biological information. Using data that reflects overall consumer behavior, preferences and impulses like encoded instructions in DNA, retailers can identify how to improve the consumer experience. Just like the magical creation and replication of life take place at the unseen molecular level, the best online shopping technologies should be functionally present behind the scenes. In that lies the pursuit of aesthetics and success in e-commerce.