2021 CES Commerce Recap

CES is the most influential tech event in the world. Conveniently timed at the start of the new year (though perhaps not so convenient for those who attend!), CES has long been the industry’s standard for what’s to come in the tech scene and, as marketers, how we need to adapt our way of thinking to best serve our clients. While we couldn’t gather in Las Vegas this year, CES 2021 was still in full swing this week with a roster of virtual sessions and news announcements that have still been able to point the industry toward the next hottest trends and technology. And with keynotes from the likes of Best Buy, Walmart and Mastercard, Commerce was center stage at this year’s most important tech show.   

5G Yes, we’ve heard that 5G is coming for some time now, but there does appear to be some real buzz this year. The biggest announcement in this space that perked our Commerce ears was from UPS and Verizon which announced drone delivery available only through the power of 5G due to its low latency and edge compute. “We’re just beginning to see how the power of 5G Ultra Wideband will transform the way businesses operate,” said Rima Qureshi, Chief Strategy Officer at Verizon.

Home as Headquarters The home changed in ways we could have never expected last year. Perhaps surprisingly, still only about ¾ of US households have a connected home device, though prices are dropping which may change that. CES has a range of disinfection products, smart tech that tackles saving time (turning off a light switch doesn’t take too much time after all)  and the kitchen/recipe/shopping arena. One area that critics think still needs a solution: a singular ecosystem that allows all home gadgets to cohesively communicate. 

Automotive The biggest trends in auto this year are around electrification (battery costs down 85%), connectivity (75% of new cars sold annually in 2020) and autonomy (33M annual sales by 2040). The biggest Commerce news from Nissan with Nissan@Home, a complete online shopping program allowing shoppers to purchase cars from the comfort of their home. Everything from arranging test drives to managing the purchase process and set up delivery can be managed through the Nissan@Home site, without ever entering a dealership. 

Connected Healthcare During the pandemic, telehealth made innovations in a matter of weeks that otherwise would have taken years. One remaining challenge is connecting patient data to the doctor’s office. That’s probably why VitalSight from Omron is getting a lot of buzz. It connects a blood pressure monitor and data hub designed by the company to the patient’s doctor’s office and EHR. Products like this will allow doctors to have health data prior to telehealth appointments making them more useful for both doctor and patient.  

What Does This Mean for E-Commerce?

5G Already, consumers abandon their carts as a result of slow connection speeds as low as 2 seconds Through the faster speeds and lower latency that 5G will deliver, this will only accelerate. The winners will be the ones who embrace 5G to make their mobile commerce experience as seamless as possible where is speed is key to transacting successfully in mobile. 

Home as Headquarters The more connected the home is, the easier the shopping experience can become for consumers. With more and more digital touch points scattered throughout the home, brands and retailers need to meet people within their homes where they are most likely to shop. Those that don’t may lose this buying channel throughout the year as pandemic restrictions begin to soften. 

Automotive Once upon a time, auto seemed like a space that would never enter the e-commerce world. However, now not only can you buy cars online,  you can also buy things more easily while on the way to and from. Successful auto makers in 2021 will make the buying process as frictionless as possible and save consumers time spent in the dealership through home delivery. 

Connected Healthcare Companies have been talking about connected healthcare for years, but what is different this year is bringing that data to the cloud where it is easily accessible. The next step in bridging connected healthcare and commerce will be by building connected healthcare supply chains that are as smart as the technology in patients’ homes. 

Other Notable Commerce News From Around CES

LiveArea – a Texas start-up created a new mobile, app-free payment method to make shopping in-store feel like a VIP experience, currently in use by Kiehl’s, Adidas, Marc Jacobs, and others. By integrating with a brand’s existing website, users simply scan an item’s barcode, and the product lands in their mobile (and physical) cart. After all items have been scanned, the user pays via mobile check-out, and is given a code to scan at the store's check-out counter for a paper receipt.

Social gaming platform Gamitee aims to provide ways for ecommerce merchants to connect their consumers with peers during the shopping experience. Most purchase decisions are not made in a vacuum. When shopping for a dress, you may want to get your friend’s opinion before checking out. Gamitee provides a plugin that allows the retailer to enable that conversation to take place in the context of their platform. Users can now share, plan, discuss and shop or book together.

Traverz is a Swiss company that provides an AI-driven conversational recommendation layer for e-commerce platforms by replacing the traditional website search filter with “fuzzy preferences” and learning from feedback and usage. This supports the consumer from initial awareness and discovery, through to narrowing the search and making a confident purchase, improving platform conversion and loyalty. 

The Samsung Bespoke Family Hub features a large app-enabled touchscreen that covers everything from meal planning, to the ability to see what’s in the fridge, to integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. Using a combination of computer vision, eCommerce integration, and a little machine learning, the food products in your fridge can be “seen” and verified with your online shopping list and purchases.