What do eCommerce Managers need to know to best utilize their digital resources?
eCommerce = everywhere Commerce
ecommerce: the buying and selling of products or services over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks
In today’s world, the ability to buy is everywhere and at any time. It is no longer necessary to go to a specified location, whether physical or virtual, to buy the product you are looking for. The ability to buy a product from a news stream, using the barcode or without leaving the Facebook page is what the consumers are looking for.
Although the massive growth, eCommerce sales account for less than 10% of retail industry sales. The yearly growth of online sales is approximately 37%. In the US, on-line sales are expected to reach $334.7B in 2012, which represents 10.7% of total sales. While large brands and retailers don’t disclose on-line sales separately, it is estimated that approximately 10% of their sales are generated on the e-commerce sites.
Mobile will become just another commerce interface. U.S. mobile commerce sales hit $1.20 billion in 2009 and will grow to $2.42 billion this year. This is great news for retailers that are prepared to meet this rapid revenue increase.
There are several steps/questions that the eCommerce executive should look for:
How should you interact with your customer?
People are spending more and more time online. From 2007 to 2009, time spent online jumped by more than 20% among every demographic except seniors, where it increased by 16%. The Web is already deeply embedded in consumers' lives and will further entrench.
The ability to link, to integrate, to share and to target campaigns is leading to greater opportunities for online retailers. By 2013, more than 50% of all retail transactions will be affected by the Web, which will similarly transform retailing. Consumers have more access points than ever before, demanding convenience, choice, and variety in their shopping experiences.
In B2B ecommerce initiatives, buyers and sellers care more for the value-added services; the brand value is less critical than in B2C. Consequently, B2B E-commerce initiatives are mostly manned by experts in the business.
Companies need to continue to shift spending to enable the online channels or risk losing their competitive position to their competitors.
Using multi-channels effectively
Today movies are watched on a tablet, plane tickets are reserved on the mobile handset and games are played on the TV, and naturally, the PC will remain a player.
The Web browser will be only one of many touchpoints that brands, retailers, manufacturers, and distributors will need to support to maximize transactions with customers. In 2010, the impact of mobile devices on eCommerce businesses is becoming real. Already, an average of 2% of eCommerce revenue is coming from Web browsers and applications on smartphones such as the iPhone and Android-powered devices. While eBusiness executives once worried about optimizing sites for various Web browsers, today they must consider mobile browsers, mobile applications, and rich Internet applications, as well as integrations with marketplaces and social networks.
Despite the complexity, eCommerce executives must follow customers into these environments. As the number and variety of customer touchpoints increases and businesses begin to transact across this multitude of channels, understanding and using the customer context will be critical. The right mix of user design, content, offer, price, payment types, fulfillment options, and service channels will be needed for each customer experience, and it will vary by customer. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and Sears are providing customers with same-day store pick-ups for on-line purchases. Not only is this added convenience for the customer, but also brings additional “foot-traffic” to the store.
Although the massive growth, eCommerce sales account for less than 10% of retail industry sales. It is clear that the Internet’s influence on consumer spending is not limited to what is bought online. The expression you are only as strong as your weakest link applies to multi-channel retailers. A poor website can adversely affect a retailer’s other channels. A significant amount of store sales are influenced by online product research and discovery. Not only are consumers mixing their use of shopping channels, they are exhibiting more sophisticated shopping behavior by crossing channels to complete a single purchase. In the process, they expect a retailer’s store, Web site and catalog to provide a consistent and seamless shopping experience. Inventory sharing across channels is another strategy to increase customer satisfaction and inventory efficiency. Gap recently launched an operational strategy where on-line and in-store inventories are connected.
Completing the sale…
Making purchasing easier is key to completing the transaction. French Connection, for example, hosts videos on their YouTube page that show customers how to get specific looks. From these clips, viewers can actually click to view the products and links appear on the dress and the clutch so you can purchase them. A consumer can buy a product from BestBuy without leaving the Company’s Facebook page.
Innovative models to drive sales:
- Video eCommerce - complement the information on a product page; others produce entertaining clips to build brand authority. Still others turn them into a vehicle to drive traffic to their Websites
- Mobile shopping from in-store - an interactive and personalized store experience; customers can retrieve product information and receive promotions related to past and current interests
- Location-based services - connecting with consumers at the last three feet of a transaction
- Social commerce - customers interacting with others in order to make better buying decisions
A new era for B2B ecommerce
An entire market of developing B2B solutions has been spurred on by a strong drive toward efficiency and the pursuit of customer relationships.
A few interesting B2B initiatives:
- Personalization – There has been significant growth in personalization in the form of product recommendations on retail sites. B2B marketers are embracing this approach themselves but are pushing even further to leverage all they know about their clients online. B2B business should increase site versioning and customized catalogs based on customer role, purchase agreements, relationship, purchase history, and collaborative filtering.
- Multiple business models through a single solution – Businesses are increasingly looking to support multiple online business models, all within a common application or technology and service environment. These range from the traditional B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) models to the more unique ones, such as business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C), business-to-small-business, and business-to-employee (B2E). B2B managers are still learning from the more advanced B2C peers, but it is evident that business and technology leaders looking for multiple-model solutions as they leverage their investments.
Choosing the right eCommerce platform
The landscape of eCommerce platform providers continues to shift, and sometimes the conversation is one-sided: Repeated inquires have borne out that clients of eCommerce technologies often aren't using a fraction of their provider's functionality and, for their part, the technology providers themselves are still working hard to satisfy business drivers. Advances in eCommerce technology and how it is used are critical when it comes to competing and winning.
Movement of integration and experiences to the cloud offers opportunities for lowered costs, lower operational burden, and shorter time-to-market.
In the near future, we will see solutions that will eliminate standalone applications altogether and provide Web services to power sites and the increasing variety of user experiences that businesses will need to meet changing customer needs. This year, nearly 20% of eCommerce transactions across more than 200 sites included at least one piece of content served by the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) solution. 54% of eBusiness leaders are interested in moving to eCommerce solutions based on software-as-a-service (SaaS) as they move forward, so the trend is only going to increase. And solution providers will need to enable cloud-based options and enablement to stay relevant and competitive.
- Shop.org - http://blog.shop.org/ - a blog focused on Internet and multichannel retailing
- InternetRetailer - http://www.internetretailer.com/home/ - Internet strategy for online merchants
- eCommerce Insights - http://ecommerceinsights.atg.com/ - Observations, opinions and advice on the world of e-commerce
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0N-mkuK_DI&feature=player_embedded - A powerful video from Resource Interactive shown at the Shop.org Annual Summit on how mobile, social media and geolocation will change shopping, forever.
- E-Commerce and the Digital Economy (Advances in Management Information Systems) by Michael J. Shaw - provides the framework for understanding the business trends, emerging opportunities, and barriers to overcome in the rapid developments taking place in electronic business and the digital economy
- eCommerce Best Practices - How to market, sell, and service customers with internet technologies by Thomas M. McFadyen - Insight to all the important elements of a successful e-commerce website. This book is a very useful resource for anyone who wants to touch all the concepts in simple language.
- The B2B E-commerce Handbook by Matt Haig –How to transform the business-to-business global marketing strategy.