Experiential Commerce Is The Next Billion-Dollar Opportunity For Developers

Technology has transformed entire industries over the past decade, from travel and transportation to media and real estate. While commerce has enjoyed some innovation, its transformation is far from over. The next frontier is “Commerce Everywhere,” which blends online and offline experiences to let you make purchases wherever and whenever you want.

This transformation in commerce won’t be led by consumers or even by brands, but by developers. Empowered by new resources in the growing API economy and platforms that take care of business basics, developers will charge ahead. New apps and experiences will start on the bleeding edge and gradually make their way into the mainstream — forever altering the way retailers sell and consumers buy.

This new kind of experiential commerce has the potential to turn traditionally mundane customer experiences into moments of delight. It can also remove any friction from the buying process. Making a purchase is something that you’ll be able to do while in the flow of other activities, like doing the dishes, watching TV or tracking fitness goals.

Examples range from everyday items to high-end fashion. In Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship SoHo location, shoppers can now interact with a huge wall display to browse styles and send them to the dressing room. On the other end of the spectrum, Domino’s lets you order a pizza by tweeting a pizza emoji and Amazon’s new Dash Button lets you re-order dish soap while doing the dishes.

These present-day examples are just a hint as to what the future of commerce will look like. The most exciting experiences will be powered by technology that we haven’t yet considered, and sprout from teams of developers based anywhere in the world.

Back-End Tools Are Accelerating The Pace Of Innovation

Developers are able to take the lead on innovation thanks to an abundance of APIs and platforms that dramatically shrink the cost and time it takes to build, test and sell new products, features and apps. Both APIs and platforms take care of the complicated and time-consuming back-end tasks, enabling developers to make a greater impact with their creativity.

Stripe is a prime example of a back-end tool moving commerce forward. Legacy payment solutions were cumbersome: they lacked APIs, documentation and client libraries. Stripe takes care of the heavy lifting for payment processing so developers can now add more intuitive and elegant checkout experiences into their apps.

Through APIs, established platforms have been another opportunity to accelerate commerce innovation and opportunity. A commerce platform takes care of all the transactional basics, such as payment processing, providing storefronts, customer communication and shipping.

Building on top of a platform gives a developer virtually instant access to a well-developed and active user base. It means developers no longer need to spend huge amounts of time trying to market and monetize their apps. This is why small developer teams have found so much success building for platforms, including Google, Evernote and Zendesk.

Small Developer Teams Will Drive The Future Of Commerce

The democratizing force of APIs and platforms ensures that any developer team — no matter size and location — has the chance to build the next big thing for tomorrow’s shopping experience.

There will be increasing collaboration between small businesses and small development teams. Smaller merchants are hungry for new ways to create memorable connections with their customers, both online and off, in order to compete with everything from Amazon to countless other small retailers like themselves.

If you’re a developer, or part of a small dev shop, the market opportunity for innovative commerce is enormous. Retailers and shoppers think in terms of what’s possible today, but developers will plot the course for the future. The next big thing in commerce is just around the corner.