As AI technologies are revolutionizing the global e-commerce industry, there’s one emerging trend, which is likely to have an increasingly larger impact on consumers’ online shopping habits in the coming years – it’s known as “Human as a Premium.”

Undoubtedly, since the beginning of the 2020s the penetration of AI technologies in various industries has reached massive heights. According to Gartner data, for example, over 80% of digital companies are currently capitalizing on the use of AI, particularly in the e-commerce niche, to better automate their operations and improve overall business efficiency. And this accelerating trend isn’t likely to speed down anytime soon.

Meanwhile, as the 2024 studies reveal, the humanized customer experience is quickly turning into a businesses’ strong point in the online commerce segment, with an emerging “Human as a Premium” (or “People as a Premium”) trend taking shape. 

The Story Behind the “Human as a Premium” Trend 

As the Mintel data demonstrates, almost 60% of consumers in the U.S. admit that human communication with customer service representatives (CSR) plays a crucial part in their purchasing journey, both in online and offline modes. 

Namely, despite the enormous potential of AI-assisted personalization capabilities in terms of product recommendations and ChatGPT-powered customer care, the value of empathy, sheer emotion and human communication remains a solidly powerful tool in establishing the real connection between the seller company and a customer. 

What this means is that human interaction, which adds emotional meaning, is becoming the extra aspect of quality, hence extra value, in one’s customer experience, in addition to convenience, flexibility and personalization, which are for long a real Must in e-commerce. 

Quite predictably, increasingly more digital businesses will be capitalizing on this “Human as a Premium” trend in the next few years. 

How to Leverage the “Human as a Premium” Trend in E-commerce

From a practical perspective, one of the key aspects is to include honest, often playful and even vulnerable authentic human interaction across touchpoints during the customer purchase journey.

In customer care, for instance, human communication will be perceived as an extra benefit for a customer, if they encounter a complex product-/ account-/ payment-related issue, regardless of the e-commerce platform specifics. 

Another effective way for an e-commerce company to implement and sell on the “Human as a Premium” concept, is to act as a so-to-speak “connectivity bridge”, which brings their consumers together. 

In this respect, online retailers working in the fitness, leisure and/or pet categories, for example, can foster the creation of communities among their consumers through providing conversation topics and offering opportunities to bring people together online and offline, e.g. for yoga sessions, dog walks, etc., via their social media accounts.

Meanwhile, promoting the redesign of one’s frequent solo routines (like morning coffee drinking) in favor of shared experiences can be a potentially effective way to improve the sellers’ brand reputation in the food & beverage niches.   

And last but not least, the value of extra gifts, personalized email sequences and even handwritten notes, sent out to loyal customers, can’t be overestimated either.