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WEBINAR OVERVIEW Digital transformation – the future of ecommerce platforms

In a recent InternetRetailing webinar, Digital transformation – the future of ecommerce platforms, we heard from Vincenzo Pollicino, enterprise relations manager at Shopware, and Tom Robertshaw, ecommerce evangelist at Space 48.

Here’s a bulletpoint overview of the event.

Tom Robertshaw of Space 48 opened the webinar with a look at some of the issues ecommerce platforms need to be ready for

Exponential growth in digital trends 

Artificial intelligence

• Machine learning: helping to achieve things that were previously out of reach.

• Currently past the peak of inflated expectations, now going towards the trough of disillusionment. Approaching working out which products and services are getting it right.


• More than 100m Echo related devices 

• Google Assistant/Apple Siri

• Round the home, via smartphones and through wearables. Interesting to see how this plays out in the longer term. Right now lots of money is going into it, but even Amazon isn’t seeing the ecommerce sales from it right now


• Similar technology enabling chat bots: less adventurous, more practical and helloing to automate customer tasks.

Intelligent analytics

• AI helps analytics find what looks out of place, reducing the time it takes to look at analytics and understand what’s going on. Helps to focus attention on what’s needed. 

Autonomous vehicles

• Cars, drones, grocery and shopping deliveries.

• Lots of ongoing research: whether or not it’s going to end up being practical in the short term. • Maybe there’ll be greener transport in the future.

Internet of Things

• Wi-fi connected gadgets and wearables: anther form of connectivity and more applications will come as more devices are connected to the internet.

• Apple Watch: now making more income for apple than iPods ever did. We could see a big change in the future in how things might be controlled 


• More attention being given to privacy in the light of new stories about Facebook and laws like GDPR.

How ecommerce trends will shape shopping behaviour in the next 3-5 years

Need to take two generations into account: Generation Y (broadly 1980-2000) vs Generation Z (2000 to 2020)

Generation Y

• GenY is multicultural, educated, less religious than previous generations.

• More likely to make impulsive buying decisions, taking 1/3 less time than previous generation. More likely to do it on mobile than on desktop. In an online shop this could look like quick buying options and speedy checkout. 

• Expect brands to reflect personal values/feelings. Pay not only for a product but for a value behind a brand. “They want to experience something and get these emotions out of the brand”.

• Information exchange before buying: reviews will be important. 

Generation Z

• Looks like the last generation but more powered up. Decisions will be made in a less impulsive way. Speak to peers before buying so hyper-informed.

• Brands need to continue fostering a good relationship

• Price comparison less important: focus is more on trusting a favourite brand. 

• Shorter attention span: likely to decrease significantly. ‘shopping with “constant partial attention” means a split second to explain what you have to offer, or lose out.

• How and why YouTube changed the rules to limit the length of a video ad.

• Progressive web apps also key: transfers data much faster. 

• Product returns will be less important because shoppers will be so well informed. 

Key trends

Story-led brand ecommerce

This approach brings good results now, and will bring better results in the future.


Slow progress for many, while that might be fine now, newer generations will expect a better experience across devices. Eg shopping while on a plane.

Tom Robertshaw on preparing for future trends

• Be patiently excited: it depends on the merchant, your business, your size and the type of brand that you are, depending on when the right time is for you. Don’t get a fear of missing out, but you can get inspiration from them.

• Be part of the trend-setting

• Set five year goals, with challenge goals for the nearer-term to take you closer to your vision. 

• Or wait till products are commoditised and become software-as-a-service. 

• Trends create new products – but important to think about which will work best for your business.

• Balance flexibility with focus: flexibility is important to be able to adapt to business needs, but too much complexity 

• Focus on the 3-5 year period, ensuring its adaptable enough.

Vincenzo Pollicino on designing a future-proof ecommerce experience

• “We humans are not obsolete yet” and products must fit our needs/wants: will develop into personalisation. Each wants their experience to be as individual and personalised as possible. Off the shelf not good enough any more. Important to express how you are as a human being. 

• Rational process: important to get faster. Speed and convenience. Amazon delivers it pretty well and is very successful. This will develop into automation, eg Google can make appointments or phone calls with simple tasks. Voice commerce: buy by speaking. “We believe this will work because we all know nothing is more powerful than human comfort and convenience.” Also key for scaling your business. Automation needed to grow. Makes more sense to let people do interesting tasks. 

• Emotional shopping. This will develop into experiences, counterbalancing the world of automation. eg. taking the experience that a very nice high street shop can offer into virtual reality in the future.

• We think automation, persaonsliation and experience helps to future proof a platofrm. When you bring them together important overlaps – groundwork for future ecommerce. 

• “Should be as individual as we are as humans, as thrilling as a great TV series and as automated as possible so can concentrate on what is interesting.”

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