How Has The Ecommerce Revolution Changed The Retail Industry
The internet changed the way the world does business. The World Wide Web offers instant access for everyone and it has become the desired medium for work, socializing, marketing, and even purchasing products and services. The evolution of internet technologies in the last decade has led to the explosion of ecommerce or the activity of buying and selling products/services through a website. Online stores now rival traditional brick and mortar stores as it offers easy 24/7 accessibility and convenience for customers to browse through hundreds of products, make informed selections and put selected products in a cart, continue shopping and then pay for them at checkout.
A Look At The Ecommerce Industry
Ecommerce trailblazers such as Amazon, eBay, as well as startups such as Trunk Club, Warby Parker jet.com are all online retailing success stories. As of December 2017, tech giants such as Amazon, who joined the retail space is 23 years old. Even Google and Paypal, launched their ecommerce ventures in 1998. According to a Forrester report, ‘US Cross-Channel Retail Forecast’, predicts that ecommerce revenues will touch $523 billion by 2020, which proves that ecommerce is growing really fast. But in terms of marketshare, ecommerce represents just 7% of All Retail Sales, according to the United States Census Bureau. Fast-growth and low market share provides a unique opportunity for established online retailers to grow and for new emerging players to make a winning move.
The most exciting thing is that the online retail industry is accelerating, with talk of same day deliveries and drone shipping, so the growth story is far from finished. Nonetheless the ecommerce sector has seen many changes already in the last decade including, proliferation of online marketplaces, use of mobile devices for online shopping, digital marketing and advertising to target consumers, and the use of virtual reality to augment consumer shopping experiences.
Top Ecommerce Trends Businesses Should Be Aware Of
- Online Marketplace
Most popular retail stores and brands have online shopping sites but it is the popularity of online marketplaces such as Amazon that has really changed how consumers shop, with added layers of convenience. Online marketplaces are a convenient place for vendors to sell a range of product offerings, marketers to advertise, and consumers to find the product that fits their search, compare prices, brands, read reviews and then purchase. Magento first started development in 2007 and it still remains the most popular ecommerce content management platform, with a 26.1% market representation.
- Mobile-Friendly Purchasing
According to eMarketer’s US Mobile Commerce Update 2016: Behind the Rapid Growth report, consumers will use smartphones to make epurchases worth $129.44 billion annually, by 2020. Thanks to responsive mobile sites and mobile apps, more users now browse, compare, and shop through smaller screens. Besides making purchasing decisions through mobile devices, more people now go through the entire spectrum of the buyer experience on their smartphones. People are more willing to buy products and pay for their products/services on the phone without ever entering a brick and mortar retail location. The development of Android and iOS, app-based mobile commerce has opened up many opportunities for businesses to engage and promote sales to their customers through these mobile platforms. Most people, especially the younger demographic, keep their mobile devices close and handy, so they are much more accessible to marketers. What businesses could do through email newsletters, they can do better through push notifications on these mobile apps.
- Digital Marketing
Ecommerce has changed the way that businesses think about their retail marketing strategies. A smart digital marketing strategy to reach out and persuade consumers throughout their online experience is crucial for the success of any retail business. Traditional methods of marketing have given way to digital marketing because it allows businesses to reach the places where people spend most of their time online, such as social media sites, websites, email, apps, blogs and more. Advancements in online inventory management systems have enabled ecommerce companies to streamline operations and stock management, thus bringing about efficiency in the buying cycle. With more buyers now expecting personalized customer experiences, there is a need to utilize data and analytics better in order to understand and address customers’ habits, preferences and needs through digital marketing. Besides creating content and promotional offers, there is need for more precise targeting through social media marketing and paid search for high-quality leads and more conversions. As marketing becomes more granular, more businesses are looking to optimize micro-moments for competitive advantage. Micro-moments may include on-an-impulse purchase decisions, decisions to solve problems immediately, trying new things in routine moments or the search for big goals during downtime.
- Virtual Reality Technologies
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies are already helping create more immersive shopping experiences for consumers. Virtual stores are the future of ecommerce. Shoppers can browse through different categories of items and products, select areas of interest and move through aisles to choose and hold items using only sight and their VR headset. Augmented reality makes digital enhancements over the top of an existing reality so that customers can have a more meaningful and interactive shopping experience. For instance, an AR app can use a mobile camera to capture a customer’s room and actually place their potential purchase in it so that it helps the customer make the buying decision.
Business As Usual
Ecommerce retailers are uniquely placed now to test new growth ideas, implement new technologies, and improve customer experiences. The three most important features that any successful ecommerce site must have are the shopping cart software, payment processing service and web hosting. When selecting and purchasing web hosting for your ecommerce website do consider getting a dedicated IP, SSL certificate, high performance PCI compliant server with enough space storage, RAM, and bandwidth, and cloud backup. With the right ecommerce web hosting provider, you can set-up, manage, and conduct your business efficiently.