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An Overview of Ecommerce and Digital Experience Terminology

Discover the ins and outs of the ecommerce and digital experience words and phrases with this simple guide. You'll become an expert in no time!

The world of eCommerce and digital experiences wouldn’t be complete without their buzzwords, and there are always new ones to learn about. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, it’s an excellent place to get started if you want to explore some of the latest topics and terminology in eCommerce shopping experiences.

(Plus, we link to some great resources if you want to know more about specific topics!)

Ecommerce and Digital Experience Terminology


Your web content not only needs to be accessible on multiple devices, but it must also comply with the international standards, laws, and directives which aim to protect those with disabilities. Here are definitions of standard regulations for making your web content or products accessible.

  • WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines)Web Content Accessibility Guidelines are an internationally recognized and comprehensive series of criteria that recommend how web content can be made accessible for people with disabilities (especially for the visually impaired). Worldwide, and in many jurisdictions, WCAG makes up part of the laws and directives that exist to protect the rights of those with disabilities.
  • VPAT (Voluntary Product Accessibility Template)A template that details how an information and communications technology (ICT) product or service complies with Section 508 of the U.S. Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The latest version of VPAT includes sections for reporting compliance with the U.S. Revised Section 508, WCAG standards, and European EN 301 549, which are a requirement in numerous administrations worldwide. Click here to have a look at our VPAT.

Content marketing

Content marketing has evolved to be a lot more than just your latest catalog, newsletter, or blog post. Now, it’s not enough to only have a store optimized for completing a transaction. Your customers want to go shopping online — and it’s with your content that you can make that experience the best it can be. Here are some terms for what brands do to deliver inspirational discovery experiences.

  • Product discovery is the experience and journey a shopper undergoes before finding products of interest to them. This consumer behavior usually exists at the top of a marketing funnel, and online is akin to what window shopping on the high street would be. Brands leverage discovery experiences with inspirational content, such as influencer marketing, online catalogs, or videos that entice shoppers and encourage them to engage, browse, and explore a brand’s products.
  • Visual commerce A term to describe how brands use visual content to deliver better shopping experiences. In short, it helps customers to learn about a brand and its product offerings. Visual commerce facilitates the establishment of a brand’s identity and helps to distinguish themselves from their competitors. It includes high-resolution product images, shoppable content, user-generated content, videos, social media posts, and virtual or augmented reality.
  • Shoppable content is the use of high-quality images or videos that have been tagged with actionable purchase points for shoppers to engage with — and shop directly from the content. It provides a seamless and convenient shopping experience for the customer, where friction and barriers are minimal.


In short, using data to drive decision-making and to improve your shopping experiences. Leading brands leverage data-driven eCommerce and consistent, personalized multi-channel experiences to take the top spot among their competitors and win more customers. Big Data and AI is a rapidly evolving and ever-changing field — so there’s always new terms and concepts to learn about.

  • A/B Testing entails comparing user behavior on two versions of a piece of web content to find out which produces the best outcome or desired action. For example, you could test different copy, CTAs, or layouts on your product pages to see which variable resulted in more conversions. A/B testing is an iterative process, and after the acquisition of lots of data and careful analysis, brands can determine precisely how to deliver the best shopping experiences for their customers.To learn more about A/B testing, here’s a good read.
  • DMP (Data Management Platform) A DMP is an application that manages the collection, storage, and organization of anonymous user data (cookies, devices, etc.). Businesses can analyze this data to acquire valuable insights and information about their customers and users. With Big Data and AI, a DMP can help build detailed (but anonymous) user-profiles and enable enterprises to target their advertising campaigns better.
  • CDP (Customer Data platform) While a DMP almost exclusively collects anonymous user data, a CDP can gather, store and analyze all types of user data (including name, email, etc.), giving more holistic user-profiles and eliminating data silos. It can build up a comprehensive customer profile at an individual customer level, which offers a better indication and picture of their behaviors and preferences. A CDP enables businesses to deliver better customer experiences that are more consistent, personalized, and of much higher quality across all channels.To learn more about the differences between a CDP and a DMP, go check out this post.
  • Hyper-Personalization is the practice of brands maximizing behavioral and real-time data collection to provide better shopping experiences at an individual level. Browsers benefit from convenient and timely placed product suggestions, or recommendations, that are most relevant to them. Hyper-personalization requires the leverage of Big Data so that the right product recommendations can be made on- or offline.

Mobile Commerce

Consumers want to be able to shop from anywhere and on any device. Your content experiences need to be consistent no matter where your shoppers are and across all channels. Digital design philosophies have adapted to these changes in consumer behavior. Here are some principles and definitions to get you up to speed with the latest trends in mobile commerce.

  • Mobile-first design is a philosophy that dictates that the design process for a website or app must start with, and prioritize, displays for smaller screens — or mobiles. This way, the user experience across different devices should mirror each other and provide a seamless browsing experience from wherever the user is browsing.
  • AR (Augmented Reality) AR is a digital hybrid display of the real world, where visuals, sound, or other sensory stimuli of a brand’s products are superimposed onto the environment, showing an enhanced version of the user’s real surroundings. AR is becoming increasingly common in the fashion, home, and automotive industries. Here are some great examples of Augmented Reality.
  • Messenger/Chatbot Chatbots are AI-powered software applications that simulate a natural, human conversation. Within the context of eCommerce, they’re both a cost-effective and convenient means of communication between shopper and store, and for browsers to get information or answers to their questions quickly and easily.


Enabling your customers to discover and experience your brand on different online channels was a step in the right direction. But now, they want a consistent, personalized, and convenient shopping experience both online and offline; they want you to remember the conversations they had with you online when they visit your physical store — that’s omnichannel. Here are some of the concepts, behaviors, and eCommerce functionalities that enable omnichannel experiences.

  • Digitally influenced sales These are sales from shoppers who used online channels at some point during their shopping journey before making their purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. Digitally influenced sales could include customers who browsed a store’s online catalog or website, read a product review, or watched a video before buying the product in-store.
  • ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) ROPO describes the product research a customer does online that influences their decision to purchase offline. By integrating the on- and offline shopping experience together, brands can significantly impact offline shopping behavior. Read more about ROPO here.
  • DOPO (Discover Online, Purchase Online / Offline) DOPO is the top-of-the-funnel experience that a browser has and which influences their final purchase decision, whether that happens online or offline. By creating personalized product discovery experiences, brands can influence and increase the number of their bottom-of-the-funnel purchases.
  • BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store) Buying online and then picking up in-store is precisely what this type of shopper behavior is. BOPIS is a convenient way for shoppers to shop when they don’t have the time to browse at a brick-and-mortar. The added convenience and greater level of flexibility empowers shoppers with more choice on how they want their order to be fulfilled.
  • DNVB (Digitally native vertical Brands) A DNVB is any brand or retailer that was first established online and designs, manufactures, and distributes its products to consumers. They have total control of the customer experience, enabling the brand to provide personalized shopping experiences, have better customer service, and have greater quality control.

Tech and Digital Experience Platforms

Changes in online consumer behavior and consumer expectations drive retailers’ need to overhaul and transition their entire working practices. Siloed data, tools, and platforms have paved the way for the invention of “mother”, data- and AI-driven architectural platforms that empower retailers to deliver the same experiences across all of their channels and outlets — and it’s a constantly moving and advancing field. Here are a handful of the latest technological and digital experience platforms for you to get to grips with.

  • Headless commerce is a type of eCommerce architecture that allows businesses to change their customer-facing presentation layers (the heads, frontend, or touchpoints) without interfering with the backend — where the business-critical processes are stored (such as inventory management, payment systems, and shipping). Making changes to products or store functionality only needs to be made in a single backend, which all frontends can access via APIs. In reverse, marketers can change frontends without disrupting the backend. In short, this means that setting up content for new touchpoints or new experiences becomes a lot more simple and fast.
  • DXP (Digital Experience Platform) Evolved from content management systems (CMS) and web experience management solutions (WEM), a DXP provides an integrated and unified stack of tools that empower brands to communicate to their audiences in a consistent and personalized way. With a DXP, retailers can deliver the optimal digital experience throughout a customer’s journey. The core principle behind a DXP is that it’s one unified platform that manages the customer experience on a wide variety of touchpoints.Read more about DXPs here.

Social Commerce

Digital experience and ecommerce terminology can make your head spin. Get an overview on these topics with this guide today!

In short, social commerce means selling products on a social media platform. And ideally, the shopping journey — from discovery to check out — takes place entirely on the platform itself.

Shoppers who discover products on social media (via user-generated content) are more likely to trust your brand due to the social proof it provides. Brands that exploit the power of this social authenticity gain the benefit of a cost-effective and powerful marketing strategy that potentially defines the brand and how their audience perceives it.

In this section, we describe some of the terms that serve as the backbone of social commerce.

  • Influencers An influencer is somebody with a substantial level of authority over a particular niche or topic and who can impact their audience’s behavior. An influencer’s media creations — images, videos, or social media posts — can significantly influence their followers’ buying decisions. For these reasons, influencers are invaluable marketing aids for businesses whose products complement that particular niche or audience.
  • UGC (User-Generated Content) UGC is any content created and posted by people on online platforms — such as Pinterest, Instagram, or YouTube — but not by the brand itself. It often includes images, comments, reviews, blogs, videos, or audio. Recently, brands are starting to collaborate with content creators and influencers to market their products and services because it’s an authentic and low-cost way of delivering enhanced customer experiences that users can trust or identify with.

Security & Privacy

Confused by ecommerce-related terms? This simple guide will help you better understand the online landscape. Read now!

Browsers who consent to give their data to content providers expect transparency, and they want their privacy rights to be protected. To ensure that you understand how to do this for your shoppers and customers, here are some terms to get you up to speed.

  • GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) GDPR, the EU’s legal framework for digital privacy, is the reason why almost every website you visit has a cookie consent box that pops up when you first land on it. The main aim of GDPR is to give individuals more control and rights over their personal data. It also serves to regulate how organizations collect, store, and handle people’s data. It mandates organizations globally to adhere to its strict set of criteria and regulations when collecting or handling data from people in the EU.
  • CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) The CCPA is a law that aims to improve the privacy rights and consumer protection for residents of California. While there are many similarities to GDPR, it only applies to for-profit businesses targeting residents of California.


Search is what browsers turn to when they want information, answers, or recommendations. They expect their search to give them the best possible and relevant results to their queries. And now, browsers aren’t just using text to access information. Learn about the latest trends in search here.

  • AI-powered search captures data gathered from user behavior in real-time and leverages it to learn how to deliver more relevant results for users. More relevant and personalized search results can enable an eCommerce store to provide better customer experiences, increase average order values, and win more conversions.
  • Visual Search Through computer vision and machine learning, visual search uses images as the stimuli for an online search instead of text.
  • Voice search uses speech as the sensory stimuli for search engines or search-compatible devices like smartphones or smart speakers. The user talks to the device, and the device executes the command and provides the user with the relevant information.

Dig into ecommerce and digital experience terms with this comprehensive overview! Understand complex topics faster with our user-friendly guide.  At Publitas we help retailers to engage with browsing shoppers online. Interested in learning more? Contact us, or sign up for our free 14-day trial here.