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The Scientific Research Behind E-Commerce

– Contributed content –

3 August 2017. We don’t usually think about the way that scientific research affects our lives day to day. We take all of the technology we have for granted, without realizing the amount of work that goes into it behind the scenes. Scientific research is driving the world forward, and it’s responsible for every new feature or upgrade that you get on your computers and phones. One area that would not be at all possible without advancements in research is e-commerce. People think that the advent of the internet is the only piece of research that has affected online retail but, while it’s obviously important, there are all sorts of research areas that have a direct impact on it. If you’ve never stopped to think about the way that science has affected your favorite shopping sites, here are the new technologies that are pushing things forward.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence graphic

(Seanbatty, Pixabay)

You’ve probably heard about some of the new artificial intelligence research that’s happening at the moment. Facebook recently made a splash when they shut down two pieces of AI software because they were speaking to one another in a language that they had invented. The internet was full of scaremongering headlines that said they had shut it down because of fears it would get out of control and mark the beginning of a sci-fi nightmare. However, this was later debunked, and it was revealed that they stopped the experiment because it wasn’t doing what they intended it to do. What they were trying to do was create a chatbot that could learn from a conversation and adapt its speech to mimic a real human as closely as possible. The experiment didn’t work this time but the technology that they’re trying to develop will have a huge impact on e-commerce.

A lot of e-commerce web design these days usually incorporates a virtual assistant. They’ll pop up on the side and ask if you’ve got any questions. If you do, you type it in and wait for an answer. At the moment, you’ll probably get a reply which is just a generic link to the help section of the website. It never really answers your question. In future, though, the kinds of artificial intelligence like the one that Facebook is trying to develop could see the introduction of a virtual assistant that might actually be able to help you. For the owners of e-commerce sites, this can be a huge help because it would massively reduce workload and ensure that their customers always got a swift answer even if they aren’t available to reply to queries.

Delivery

Amazon drone

Amazon drone (gloveict.it)

Amazon has been pioneers of the e-commerce industry since they started. Their constant innovations have been adopted by everybody else and become the norm. Even today, they still remain at the forefront of the new technology that is changing the way that e-commerce works. Most recently are their advancements in delivery technology. Their warehouses are full of intelligent robots that can quickly and efficiently pick products. This has allowed them to offer their incredibly popular Prime service. Their quick deliveries have set the bar of expectation and now we all want things delivered within hours of ordering. In 2013, Amazon announced that they were going to make this a possibility through the use of drones. At the time, people weren’t so sure. Drone technology was just starting to take off and it was expensive and not very well polished.

But now, Amazon is having the last laugh because new research has improved drone technology no end. The ability to automatically avoid obstacles was a huge step forward that allowed Amazon to make their dream a reality. In 2016, they finally managed to make their first delivery by drone. This was only the first step but once the technology is adopted across the board, it will completely revolutionize the way that we buy and receive products forever.

Online shopping platforms

Stay handmade

(Flickr)

In the early days of e-commerce, setting up a shop online was something that only bigger companies could do. It was very expensive and so it was something that companies tended to branch out into the online sphere once they were already successful. Now, those days are gone and anybody can set up their own shop. Sites like eBay, Etsy, and Amazon now offer a platform where anybody can sell their products online without having to build their own e-commerce site from scratch. However, they’re not ideal for people that are serious about setting up a business so you do need to create your own specific site. But even that is accessible to anybody these days. There are so many free website builders online that you can use to create a brilliant online shop, completely free.

Services like PayPal have also made it far easier to set up avenues for payment. Before this, you would have to send checks through the mail when paying for products online. That means as a business owner, you’d have to spend countless hours organizing and banking all of your payments, rather than getting them wired to you instantaneously.

Before this innovation, there were countless brilliant products that never saw the light of day because their creators didn’t have the funds to launch a store and they couldn’t find anybody to back them. That problem is all but gone now. You can launch your product on a free platform until you’ve got a bit of momentum and then advance to your own site.

Targeted advertising

The algorithms that target ads are incredibly complex programs which collect huge amounts of data about a person and send them adverts that they are most likely to respond to. Prior to these advancements, you would simply be blanket advertising and hoping to get a return. The amount of money you spent compared to the increase in sales would be larger than it is these days. These algorithms are only going to get better, meaning that your marketing campaigns will continue to become more effective.

These innovations have changed the face of e-commerce, and in some respects, the world. But this is only the beginning, who knows what the future holds.

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