Game Changing Years for eCommerce

gamechangerOver the past 40 years, I’ve been able to experience development in many different environments. From meager beginnings in a Denver middle school using a TTY-33 and dialing into an HP2000F timeshare using a rotary phone and an acoustic-couple modem to learn BASIC, to Assembly, Pascal, C, C++, Java through the days of client-server and onto where we are today, it’s certainly been an interesting time to be someone interested in technology. So where are we today? A lot of folks would say we are at the height of the eCommerce boom Funny — a lot of people said that in 1998, too, and plenty has changed since then. Others would say we’re seeing web technologies mature and that change will slow while further implementations will continue to increase retails reach into the online world.

From my perspective, and as I’ve written repeatedly on this blog, we’re seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the convergence we will see over the next few years. I think this is one of the most exciting times to be involved in technology in the last decade. Here’s why…

There have been some technologies developed in the past few years that have piqued my interest related to their use with eCommerce platforms such as hybris, Magento, Demandware and others. Using a second technology to augment an eCommerce (or other) platform can make a lot of sense in some cases and technologies like Node.js provide a scalable and flexible way in which to support new applications while integrating with proven platforms. I never thought I could get excited about writing server-side code in Javascript, but Node won me over. But Node is just the beginning…

With the coming boom in connectivity known as the Internet of Things (IoT), there will be so much data related to so many things that keeping up with the data and what it means will be a staggering task. Yes, there are big data technologies out there to help, but I’m more interested in how, in this coming world of connectivity, we can enhance the user experience — which is what truly matters in the end.

…these will be game changing years for eCommerce…

The opportunity made available by having real-time data available through a variety of devices will be huge. But data by itself means nothing until it’s translated into some form of actionable information and given to the right people at the right time. And timing means everything in the eCommerce world.

A colleague suggested I take a look at Meteor, which is based on Node.js and several other open source offerings. Meteor has a very interesting architectural model that includes a publish-subscribe service that is easily configured to update specific DOM elements in a page that has already been rendered on a device. Any changes in subscribed data are monitored by the framework and nearly instantly updated on any client device (browser, mobile app, etc) viewing that data. All of that and one code base can be deployed for the web, mobile web, iOS, and Android.

For eCommerce sites this could be huge. Here are a couple of examples:

See inventory change in near real-time. This could be particularly exciting for Flash Sales sites that have a limited quantity of an item. The shopper would see inventory decline while viewing the page which could motivate them to buy.

Mobile app updates based on location. Simple to use packages for all types of functionality are available for Meteor, including geolocation. An in-store shopper could start a store’s mobile app (web or native) and the products displayed could be altered to match the geo-location of that person in the store. Talk about influencing impulse buys — mobile is already a big influencer of quick decisions and this could further enhance that effect.

There are many more possibilities that exist for eCommerce with this type of technology. Also, Meteor isn’t the only game in town, it’s just the one I made time to learn. If you haven’t looked at some of the newer technologies, now is the time.

Seriously, these will be game changing years for eCommerce and just about every other system that relies on real-time availability of data to make critical decisions. Understanding how to utilize this technology before it’s part of the most common platforms can give companies a real advantage over the competition.

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