The growth of technology and innovation expands opportunities for making profits. According to Alex O’Byrne of We Make Websites, the pandemic has caused websites to “become the primary purchase path for many brands—rather than a secondary or alternative method to in-store.”
The alternative method to in-store methods means merchants need to improve their online retail experience for better sales.
Some trends point to the direction in which the e-commerce industry is going. Marketplaces are gaining a renewed impact in the merchant retail sector. Mobile retail is growing faster than many retailers can keep up. Social commerce is helping businesses improve their engagement and conversion rates. And digital wallets and cryptocurrency are spearheading a revolution in retail payments.
What are the opportunities for e-commerce businesses to transform their strategy for improved sales in this year 2021? That’s the question answered here.
Ecommerce started with marketplaces; Amazon, in particular, led the global e-commerce revolution. Then, however, companies like Shopify and Magento emerged and enabled retailers to set up online stores for a direct-to-consumer experience. As a result, at some point, DTC businesses were jettisoning marketplaces.
However, marketplaces never died. If anything, they have waxed stronger. Buyers want to compare prices and buy products on the same websites. Without a marketplace listing, you may be losing out on important opportunities. Yet, a business is only resilient if it can adapt its strategy seamlessly to various situations and spot opportunities when they arise.
The next e-commerce revolution would be a hybrid model, where retailers use marketplaces as a foundation for expansion once they set up their independent web stores. For instance, you can use your marketplace listings to direct customers to your site for limited edition products. If it means that you transform how you do business, then it’s worth the effort.
Mobile for Retail
Current statistics and future predictions are in favor of mobile retail. The mobile commerce market estimated at $472 billion in 2019 will grow to $3.9 trillion by 2026. Meanwhile, mobile commerce sales in 2021 are expected to increase 22.3% over 2020’s records of $2.91 trillion to $3.56 trillion.
Despite the growing adoption of mobile devices, it would seem that business owners are not doing enough to optimize online sales for mobile users. Or there is a disconnect between what customers actually want and what business owners think customers want. After all, only 12% of consumers find it convenient to shop on the mobile web.
Business owners need to optimize their online stores by increasing page loading speed, enhancing mobile SEO, and improving user experience by optimizing the web design. Begin optimizing your store for a better mobile experience by using Google’s mobile-friendly tool to test the website’s current performance.
There were 3.6 billion smartphone users globally in 2020, and these would be 4.3 billion in the next two years. So by optimizing your online store, you effectively set your business up for years of success.
The present challenge for companies is how to make distributed digital workplaces as (or even more) collaborative than a physical workplace. There is no doubt that remote work has immense benefits in terms of cost savings and increased productivity and performance, among others.
However, these cannot be enjoyed if the organization does not rethink its management approach. This is why it matters what tools the company uses. E-commerce is a busy industry.
For an organization whose employees work remotely, communication is important. But, if you have not noticed, an efficient communication tool does more than just communication (passing information); it empowers employees and makes them feel more connected to each other. Likewise, a project management tool that’s truly efficient wouldn’t just be useful for managing tasks checklist; instead, it would catalyze the organization’s collaboration culture.
The flexible work structure that telecommuting encourages is a good development for the e-commerce industry. It enables companies to be able to fulfill running orders more quickly and more efficiently. Organizations need to invest in tools that engender true collaboration where each employee feels like they are truly part of something big and fulfilling.
Digital Supply Chain Management
The current wave of shifts towards telecommuting has shown that certain business sectors are naturally less accommodating of remote work than others. One of these is e-commerce and virtually every industry that relies heavily on traditional supply chain management. Even then, COVID-19 had forced many companies to digitize supply chain management.
The main benefit of digitizing supply chain management is that the company becomes more demand-sensitive. To achieve this, large organizations are harnessing emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, big data, predictive analytics, robotics, etc. Where does this leave small businesses and individual store owners?
It is important to note that a digitized supply chain is a technological shift as a systemic approach. Traditional supply chains made use of technology too. The distinction is that while those are more reactive, digital supply chains are predictive. E-commerce businesses need to pivot to a more customer-focused, demand-sensitive model by using tools that enable them to feel the market’s pulse and adapt as required.
It might seem that many things are happening at once in the e-commerce sector with the numerous emerging fast-paced innovations. Therefore, this is the time to take a step back and review your e-commerce business strategy to determine if your business is well-placed to compete in the coming years.
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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!