How e-Commerce Has Changed Business
Over the past 30 years, the way people shop has dramatically changed. With the popularity of e-commerce, more and more people are embracing shopping online, even more than they do traditional storefront shops. Because of the speed at which online shopping is becoming integrated into people’s lives, experts predict that brick-and-mortar stores might, at some point, disappear and get replaced with warehouses.
While consumers still want to go out and shop in stores, there are many options online and even cheaper products, which they can buy from the comfort of their homes. So, considering all the changes that are happening with e-commerce, how has it impacted business in general?
Giving Customers Options
One of the ways business has been impacted by the e-commerce revolution is the proliferation of online stores, which offer products in virtually every niche. This digital disruption has continued to upend retailers, who are finding it hard to compete.
Consumers enjoy the benefits of being able to compare and choose online stores that offer the best products and the best pricing strategy. Local stores could have to embrace a different strategy to remain in business as everything they offer is now accessible online. Consumers can order the product from overseas if they find it cheaper.
Traditional Retailers Embracing Online Shopping
Following the e-commerce disruption, many traditional retailers acknowledge the need to embrace a new way of doing business. In this case, the solution is joining the online retail industry and capitalizing on their already strong offline reputation. Successful retailers are keeping both online and offline stores, and this seems to be working brilliantly. For example, if you’re a creative, you can set up an online store where users can submit their orders and either pick from your store or get it shipped to them when ready.
Low Cost of Setting up Business
Compared to a traditional business, which requires renting space and setting up the premises, an online store could go live with a minimal budget. Small scale business owners can quickly launch their stores using platforms such as Shopify, and they also don’t need to handle inventory as they can partner with suppliers to sell different products online. Even entrepreneurs who own brick and mortar businesses are finding it easy to set up an online store, which helps them reach a broader customer base without spending more.
Grappling with Monopoly in e-Commerce
It has been a concern for many that some brands have exploited the online retail industry to monopolize the market. It’s easy to start an e-commerce business, but it’s tough to survive because of the competition you must overcome.
Big brands that have the resources to hire the best marketers, and they can offer an extensive product catalog so customers will always find everything they need in one place. Unlike traditional malls constrained by physical location, online stores can sell to people from anywhere in the world. For small e-commerce website owners, it’s tough to survive the competition.
To stay in business, small-scale e-commerce businesses can employ several strategies, including:
- They can specialize in a micro-niche and offer a specific product, such as only selling shoes or furniture.
- They can implement a content marketing strategy for long-term results.
- They can target specific locations when marketing.
The Role of Social Media
Social media has been a strong aiding factor for e-commerce. It helps keep people updated on the products a business offers and drives traffic to stores through special deals. It takes several seconds to create a post on social media platforms, but the content’s potential is massive if structured well.
The use of images, video, and text allows marketers creative freedom to share about their brand however they want. Social media has also enabled faster data collection for marketing and product development purposes. Companies can analyze popular keywords and respond to consumers’ problems.
Shopping Open 24 x 7
The e-commerce era has allowed businesses to reach a wider audience. You can sell to three different continents without requiring a physical store. Unlike a traditional store that might need to close at the end of the day, online shopping allows retailers to access markets in different time zones, all at the same time. Shoppers can order products at any time, which is a freedom that benefits the business as well. This translates to more sales.
Shopping as a Social Activity
Digital shopping has also been revolutionized into a social activity. Companies are offering personalized shopping experiences and customers enjoy sharing their experiences with others. In 2018, Review Trackers conducted a survey on online shopping and found that about 64% of people read online reviews on Google to decide whether to purchase a product.
People also check platforms such as TripAdvisor, TrustPilot, Yelp, and social media before purchasing products. It does not matter who the reviewers. Buyers trust these reviews more than the information the brand provides. This makes consumers a key player in the shaping of a brand’s perception.
Because of a few negative reviews, up to 94% of people avoid a brand, the research further shows. This is different from traditional stores where information about products and shopping experiences was not so much in the public domain.
Shoppers as Salespeople
According to a 2017 KPMG Global Online Consumer Report, 61% of consumers research to find the best deals. Besides reviews, consumers can find detailed company and product information to analyze before buying from an online store. With better information for decision making, consumers are changing how businesses use salespeople. Higher customer expectations have forced businesses to embrace a different approach to meet customer expectations.
E-commerce is one of the most powerful platforms businesses can use to go global. It has transformed how people shop and how businesses work. Through e-commerce, businesses can sell more and operate around the clock. However, the online marketplace also faces challenges with more competition, and users can access more information about businesses and products, so the expectation of customers is higher.