Article

The Future, Faster: Online marketplaces on the front lines

June 08, 2020

Digital services architects ask optimistic questions about projected user growth. “What would happen if demand doubled overnight? What if it tripled?” We can simulate some of these what-ifs through stress testing, but we never really know.

In today’s COVID-fueled environment, the ability to scale user growth matters more than ever before. Reality has outpaced most what-if scenarios. As social distancing requirements shutter brick-and-mortar retail, consumers have raced online. Retailers and the marketplace platforms that serve them are working hard to meet the shifting needs.

Online-first retailers and marketplaces entered 2020 designing flexible infrastructure, integrating turnkey technologies and crafting enduring partnerships to meet future demands. Those efforts are pivotal as we navigate today’s challenges.

Our attention remains focused on the safety of our families, friends and colleagues in these challenging times. Professionally, it’s all about satisfying surging demand.

Optimizing tomorrow’s online infrastructure – today

Thanks to COVID-19, existing unknowns are compounded with uncertainty, but we know that tomorrow’s shoppers will want products and services catered to their needs; retailers will push to satisfy those needs and convert sales. We know buyers and sellers will exchange payments and bad actors will still be trying to perpetrate fraud.

Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are helping brands provide solutions. E-commerce transactions require virtually instant judgement: is the transaction “good” or “bad”? COVID-19 complicates those decisions as new users onboard and existing user behavior changes. AI and machine learning are enabling scale with intelligent risk management and the ability to optimize online transaction decisions.

COVID-19 has seen spikes in fraudsters seeking to capitalize on disruption. Getting to the future faster means protecting your customers from fraud and data breaches today with security they can trust. That means balance, not absolutes, as lost revenue from false positives on legitimate customers can be devastating. That’s especially true now, as new customers onboard and new patterns solidify.

AI and machine learning allow the right decisions to be made instantaneously with real-time multi-dimensional data analysis, helping forward-thinking retailers absorb unexpected shifts in demand.

Crafting the future of commerce

Alongside technology, people and processes will require new skills, mindsets and ways of working with partners. COVD-19 intensifies the urgency to strengthen collaborations and leverage bleeding-edge technologies that deploy effectively at scale.

Getting to the future faster means learning more about shoppers in the present. Rapid changes in consumer behavior toward online-first retail and marketplace patterns are driven by necessity of COVID-19. Especially in times of crisis, it’s vital to serve each customer more effectively and with more individualization.

Engaging shoppers as individuals means rigorous and comprehensive data management practices, promoting data curation as a valued skill and partnering with experts in converting data into insights. As hundreds of millions of consumers flock online, data collection and management services that capture vital customer insights will enable online retailers and platforms to thrive.

Continuous commerce, beyond versions

Marketplaces and online-first retailers value innovation and are adept at managing change. Even as citizens of the digital era, they will need to elevate innovation skills to core organizational competencies and prioritize safe, seamless, instantaneous payment experiences for customers. Though driven by social distancing requirements, today’s surge in online shopping may anchor patterns for a lifetime. This formative time in your brand’s relationship with customers creates urgency around fast, effortless and secure payment experiences.

Getting to that future faster starts with the ability to change minds – starting with your own. The future of retail won’t be measured in versions or channels of commerce, but as part of the great continuity of humanity. COVID-19 witnessed online retail and marketplace platforms emerge as essential services in their own right.