Patents in E-commerce
Author: Prayank Khandelwal and Amit Koshal
Electronic commerce is the trade of products or services via the internet. Increasing penetration of the internet across the globe has led to an exponential growth of products and services getting offered on the internet. Today local retailers use the power of the internet to sell goods and services anywhere and with large volumes. E-commerce has increased the scope of business for everyone. Initially what started off as simply uploading products on a website has now diversified with technologies like omnichannel support, personalization, conversational marketing, AI-based customer support, image search, single click check out to name a few. The spread of mobile has lead to the revolution of m-commerce, advancing further from e-commerce.
In terms of innovation, e-commerce has been a mushrooming ground for 200,000 + patents already and this has led to competition between global retail giants. Companies are eyeing process and product patents as e-commerce are not about only selling but also includes supply chain management.
Trends in Patent battleground –
The above line chart represents the patents filed on E-commerce technology. Many patents have been filed in e-commerce technology since 2011. The number however significantly decreased by 2019.
The top publication countries are represented above. China leads in the e-commerce technology due to presence of e-commerce giants like Alibaba. US is second and South Korea is third. India has 56 patents filed in e-commerce technology.
Popular Innovations in E-commerce and scope for patents –
Modern shopping habits and buyer behavior has changed completely. Today the buyers are well informed about the product or the service well in advance before buying, thanks to the internet and access to multiple platforms. Customers these days expect a smooth buying experience across multiple channels and devices. Omni-channel support includes video chat, co-browsing, screen-sharing, document interaction, payment gateways, and multiple device support.
Total of 32 patents have been filed so far for omnichannel support. The bar chart represents the patents filed on omnichannel support in e-commerce. G06Q30/* represents the International Patent Classification (IPC) classes and the corresponding subclasses. As per the data, patents of omnichannel platforms/services are filed in marketing more often and this highlights the importance of omnichannel support needed for e-commerce business.
The most effective trend in e-commerce is personalization. Customer preferences and search history over the various platform is being monitored and stored. Using AI and ML algorithms, the predictive analysis is enabled and the customer behavior patterns are identified. Personalization has become a norm in the e-commerce industry.
The bar plot represents the patents filed for personalization using big data and predictive analysis in e-commerce. Predictive analysis and big data largely help in personalization, includes the patents in various classes like travel agencies, logistics, and special methods adapted for a specific business. It is observed that the majority of the patents are filed in the marketing and buying transactions domain.
AI based Technology:
Artificial intelligence has proven to be extremely useful in deploying e-commerce platforms because it enabled the business to become interactive with customers in real-time and predict what the buyer would most probably buy. This has a direct positive impact on business sales and brand value together. There has been a significant increase in the use of Chatbots, across the industry. Voice-enabled bots like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have led the revolution in e-commerce. The AR/VR innovations help customers become deeply engaged with the products virtually and therefore leading to cost-saving for buyers and sellers as well as higher sales for businesses across the value chain.
More and more online shopping has also led to the scope of innovation in the security aspect of the financial transactions and the supply chain of goods.
The patents filed greatly vary in IPC subclasses and numbers. The commerce class has the most number of patents filed and it is followed by transactions and marketing classes. Information retrieval class has 18 patents filed and it helps in the customer-centric e-commerce development.
E-commerce is shifting to m-commerce now. Everything over the mobile (even e-commerce) is the latest concept. In the year 2020, major e-commerce technology will be developed using mobile applications. M-commerce has already developed the omnichannel support, personalization, and AI-based technology. All the above segments will create a boom in innovations leading to complex and prolonged patent wars if these ideas are not patents and protected. To support the globalization of innovative products and services, IP laws must evolve and filing patents should be encouraged.
Source of Graphs and Data: Patseer Platform