Contextual commerce and purposeful businesses will be game changers for ecommerce retailers in the coming years, according to a panel at this year’s Online Retailer conference.

During the keynote panel this morning, Julie Mathers, CEO of Flora and Fauna said those who use their power to do good will change the game. While  fellow panelist Shane Lenton, CIO of Cue Brands, said embedding commerce experience into everyday life is a significant trend.

And Tony Nash, CEO of Booktopia, said there will be no prominent “game changer” but told the audience that ecommerce retailers need to continually position themselves for their customers and be there for them.

He said, “It’s very comforting for all of us to know that more and more people are buying online. There’s not going to be any huge game changers. Yes, there’s going to be a lot of new technology and everything else but the future is certain.”

Julie Mathers, CEO and founder of Flora and Fauna

According to Mathers, retailers and businesses that use their power to do good and create change rather than just focus on revenue and margin, will find it easier to attract both customers and talent.

She referenced a number of retailers who are doing this including Patagonia which is championing for the environment, Zappos which is focused on community and culture and, closer to home, she nominated Byron Bay-based Spell and The Gypsy which prides itself on using sustainable fabrics. 

Mathers argued the reason this is a significant trend is due to the fact that 88 per cent of millennials want to work for businesses with values that reflect their own and 93 per cent of people want to shop with brands that have a purpose beyond profit. 

“In 2020 millennials overtake Gen X’s to be the largest spending group, and in 2025 75 per cent of the workforce will be made up by millennials, so we can all ignore purpose at your peril. If you love your customers focus on purpose,” she said. 

Lenton, the technology chief at fashion retailer Cue, told the audience contextual commerce — the ability to seamlessly implement purchase opportunities into everyday activities and natural environments — will be the game changer.

“In other words, customers can buy anything anywhere, anytime with a click of a button, or even just a voice. It’s a purchase being made in the moment,” he said. 

Some examples of contextual commerce include, conversational commerce where engagement channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Live Chat are enabling customers to buy within the conversation. 

Another is click to buy via Apple Pay and Google Pay, or social media platforms where users can purchase within the app itself like Instagram, VR & AR and IoT where consumers can shop through their smart speakers and smart appliances. 

He said, “Contextual commerce is going to enable these transactions so there a lot of other things that are influencing behaviour, influencing people’s intention to buy, but now customers can transact on these touch points.”

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