Featured in MultiChannel Merchant – 2014: Infinite Channels, Product Awareness and the Dawn of Pervasive Commerce

The following article on 2014 predictions in ecommerce was authored by our Founder and CEO, Sanjay Parthasarathy and published in MultiChannel Merchant on Jan 2, 2014.

Welcome to the era of pervasive commerce.

A world where every interaction in the physical world or on the web is an opportunity to inform, educate and buy or sell products and services. Where every app is hyper-personalized to deliver the right product at the right time to the right person. A world where everything – products, prices, promotions and channels – is dynamic and real-time. And commerce is social, participative and completely mobile.

In 2014 brands and retailers will make major strides towards a world of pervasive commerce. Here are 5 trends we’ll see in 2014 and beyond:

Multichannel to “Infinite” channel

The growth of multichannel retailing will transform into the concept of infinite channel retailing. The move has already begun with the proliferation of marketplaces, social sites like Pinterest, in-store beacons and mobile & wearable devices like Google Glass. Soon every interaction in the physical world or on the web will be enabled by a new level of contextual product intelligence that will allow brands and retailers to provide information and offers on products and services dynamically, whether you’re at home reading a blog or walking by a store.

Consumers are going to demand more information about products

With the proliferation of new channels, consumers are going to demand more product related information that is accurate and updated in real time. And they are going to want more personalized offers. This will give rise to an ‘infinite product catalog’ in the cloud – one that offers comprehensive, dynamic and up-to-date information on a broad selection of products to a deep level of detail with lots and lots of attributes such as price, material, color, discounts, availability, ingredients, where designed, where manufactured and so on.

Every app, service and website is going to become “product aware”

You can see early signs of product awareness in action at Pinterest. Through Pinterest’s developer API, companies can showcase their most popular pins on their own websites and mobile apps. Essentially converting a pin into a product offer, where a consumer can click on and buy it right there. We’re going to go several steps further with every mention of a product or service in any digital medium being accompanied with details and insights about that product or service. And the ability to purchase the product right then and there.

Brands will chart the course for the future of retail

Brands may have the upper hand in the age of pervasive commerce, as they aggressively use technology to accelerate their advantage from an inherently greater knowledge of their product and their potential customers. We will see many more brands going direct to their customers following the example of brands such as Apple and Burberry. Retailers will have to invest in their product catalogs, in product intelligence and in making their channels product aware in order to compete effectively with brands.

Product ads become product offers

Advertising will be transformed by product awareness. For example, any mention of a product in a blog or a web site will be automatically tagged by the system and the potential customer provided with product details and offers that are meaningful to them. Big data and analytics technologies will power the presentation of the right product to the right person at the right time.

The rise of infinite channels, product awareness and pervasive commerce will make product discovery pervasive, personal and participative and help to make commerce more fun, more interesting and more rewarding for everyone.

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