In any market, there are constant pressures that affect the companies and consumers in it. Some pressures such as efficiency and effectiveness are ever-present, but with the progression in technology and consumers expectations, there are new pressures that companies need to understand in order to be successful. Today, we want to focus on pressures that are relevant and impacting the e-commerce world from a business perspective.
The piece of the e-commerce industry that focuses on digital goods, digital e-commerce, first arose around downloadable software but has since grown into virtual goods of all kinds. These companies have begun edging into physical goods such as electronics, growing the e-commerce market exponentially in the past few years. Some pressures in the marketplace right now are elaborated on below.
More Vendors than ever
A large number of e-commerce companies pop up overnight, every night. The competition is fiercer than ever. The competition among e-commerce companies is also getting more intense as consumers become more familiar with online shopping. Consumers increasingly judge retailers based on their experiences on the Internet.
As consumers become more familiar with the Internet and online purchasing, their expectations begin to change. Consumer Expectations in all retail arenas have been raised. They want instant gratification and an enjoyable experience that is customized to them. Therefore, processes need to change, which is no small matter. Consider the following scenario taken from Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager responsible for driving Adobe’s Digital Marketing business:
- We open up our retail app and take a picture of a product we like and we expect that product to show up on our doorstep the next day.
This scenario is a perfect example to illustrate where consumers expectations are heading. With these increasing expectations, a change needs to occur. Companies need to reinvent how they are marketing and delivering their products.
Privacy and Security are critical concerns in the current economy. Privacy is the control over one’s data, and security is the access to data by an unauthorized user. Consumers are concerned about their personal information getting into the wrong hands, and e-commerce sites are worried about the financial loss or loss of credibility associated with a breach. Companies need to portray that their sites are completely secure and make sure that their reputation follows. One breach could cause a company to face serious consequences.
The first few seconds we are exposed to a new product are crucial to whether or not we will purchase said item. These critical moments are known as the First Moment of Truth. Google has recently discovered another critical moment for consumer/brand interactions called the Zero Moment of Truth (or ZMOT). This begins on the Internet. The definition of ZMOT given by Google is, “It’s a new decision-making moment that takes place a hundred million times a day on mobile phones, laptops and wired devices of all kinds. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.”
These behaviors have redefined the way companies plan and design their customer’s online experience. It is a much different approach than previously seen before. Now there’s a more informed customer base to cater to. They check in with their trusted third-party sources, such as online reviews and price comparisons. They also expect your message to be consistent from desktop to tablet to mobile.
About 10 years ago, marketers knew more about their products than their consumers did. However, everything these days is transparent and consumers may know more about your product and competitors than you do. Not only do they know more, but they are more active in expressing their opinions. The accessibility of the Internet gives consumers more channels to express their opinion as well. When they have something to say about a product, they’re not just saying it to the company that sold it to them, they’re talking to each other.
You need to be aware of consumers talking about you on the web, address it appropriately, and continue to engage consumers. Your content also has to be consistent across channels and campaigns.
A huge part of succeeding with consumers today is being able to define and understand your target audience, in order to provide them with specific experiences that fit their needs. Personalization helps online marketers connect consumers with the product most suited with their particular need, which can lead to a desired purchase. Those customers can then post their own reviews or recommendations, informing other consumers undergoing their own ZMOT.
Doing more with Less
Businesses are still hiring, just not as much as they might have in the past. One reason is because some companies that downsized during the downturn are finding that they emerged from the recession more efficient and able to do more with less. In hard times, companies pay a lot more attention to efficiency because they cannot throw money at their problem. The companies who are more efficient and able to do more with less are commonly the ones that survive economic struggles.
There are new pressures that continue to pop up as the retail world changes. The retail world is moving to the Internet more and more everyday. This is a great time to be in the e-commerce arena. Keep in mind the pressures and how consumers expect to be sold to in order to gain an advantage from your competition.