Anything Can and Will Transact

Dave Barrowman is the VP and Head of Innovation at Skava. Barrowman was asked to submit his predictions for 2018 in the payments and commerce space for an eBook compiled by Check out his predictions! 

[ – February 14, 2018] 2017 saw a transformation and digital maturity of the ecommerce space, with a focus on increasing mobile as the norm, rather than some new emerging area. Likewise, in the brick and mortar space, we’re seeing a core set of omnichannel capabilities, such as BOPIS, ship from store, and the connected sales associate becoming more common. This trend will continue in 2018. And of course, we’ll see further progress on the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning front, as these technologies extend beyond the familiar use cases such as product recommendations.

Ultimately, these trends are becoming normalized as part of the ongoing customer journey. Meanwhile, we’re beginning to see some new emerging and innovative trends that will drive further evolution in the digital commerce space.
There are two other areas of digital commerce that I’m most excited for in 2018: the renewed focus on B2B capabilities and the emergence of “Anything Can Transact” – the commerce enablement of devices on the Internet of Things. While quite distinct, both of these topics share a reliance on a solid digital commerce foundation. With new technologies and digital commerce experiences emerging in 2018, retailers are unable to continue to innovate using their existing legacy platforms. At Skava, we believe a microservices-oriented architecture provides the flexibility and adaptability to deliver these new experiences faster and more effectively.

B2B will emerge as a big growth area for digital commerce

B2B has long been a large, but underserved area of digital commerce. The B2B market is enormous: by some estimates, it’s over 2 times larger than the B2C market. During an IRCE presentation, Forrester estimated that the B2B ecommerce market will be worth $1.1T by 2019. Retailers are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of owning the relationship with valuable corporate and small business customers, prompting them to put renewed emphasis on their B2B capabilities.

Although B2B commerce systems have been available for years, they have tended to be rigid, expensive to implement, and tedious to use. People who manage purchases for their business are also traditional consumers. As traditional consumers, they are accustomed to rich, fast, and modern user infaces of today’s B2C. Asking them to use poorly designed, form-based interfaces to perform their B2B shopping activities is purely unacceptable. 2018 will see the emergence of new B2B platforms with interfaces that rival the best B2C experiences, but optimized for B2B activities, such as replenishment, with key features such as custom catalogs and negotiated pricing. Companies that implement these new B2B experiences will want to leverage their existing systems. A microservices-based architecture speeds up the implementation process and provides the flexibility needed to get the most out of their existing technology investment.

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Anything Can Transact

Much less mature than B2B, but no less exciting, is the emergence of “Anything Can Transact.”  Whether it is via voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, or via “smart” versions of traditional home appliances, 2018 will see an increased adoption of transactional experiences through non-traditional devices and interfaces. We’ll see a variety of new ways to shop directly from the point of consumption. For example, printers that will proactively replenish its ink and paper supplies, or coffee machines that will reorder coffee pods.

I expect, at least initially, that these experiences will be focused on replenishment rather than trying to offer a full assortment and capabilities of traditional ecommerce sites and apps. “Anything Can Transact” interfaces will be optimized for quick and easy reordering. To power these experiences, retailers must integrate secure transactional microservices into their devices.

Additionally, they must offer robust management interface where the consumer can configure settings, such as shipping and payment information, default orders, and notification preferences, all while leveraging their digital commerce and fulfillment backend seamlessly.

As Yogi Berra famously said, “it’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future,” but it’s clear that B2B and “Anything Can Transact” will be part of the ongoing march of digital commerce in 2018. Retailers that build on a flexible foundation of microservices will be well positioned to deliver these new experiences.

To learn more about payments and commerce predictions by key experts in the industry, check out the eBook 2018 –  Forecast: What’s Next in Payments and Commerce