Take your shop to the customer’s doorstep

E-Commerce rules. And how! We are in a small world that is hot, flat, crowded and super busy, where speed is the name of the game and convenience is the way of life. E-Commerce just made life easier.

Let’s talk about how I, as a lay(wo)man, view the way E-Commerce changed the way I live. I was born in the early 80’s. That must give you a fair idea of how much India used computers or the Internet way back then.

Consider this

Before the Internet reached India (circa 1996):

  • Everything was bought from physical stores
  • An analog phone was used to communicate to anyone
  • Money order forms were used to send money to anyone
  • Business-to-Business exchange of data was all on paper
  • Marketing was done only via posters, newspapers and hoardings
  • Cheerful people (who you meet in person) resolved a customer support query.

After it reached India (circa 2000 onward):

  • Everything is bought on Amazon or Flipkart
  • Mobile phones ranging Apple to Samsung connect people worldwide
  • Money is transferred in 5 minutes, thanks to Western Union
  • All business communication happens via email
  • Marketing can happen on all mediums- mobile phone and e-mail
  • Customer support is done via an Interactive Voice Recorder

That the impact that the advent of the Internet has had on this world is huge is an understatement. In fact even the word humungous is not fit to describe it. Everything is at the tips of our fingers. We automate buying and selling, and make profits: all via E-Commerce, conveniently.

Let me focus on just one aspect of E-Commerce: E-tailing. Very simply put, it is the selling of retail goods on the Internet. It is the virtual equivalent of the older business-to-customer transaction. It has also given rise to E-Tailware, that are software tools to create catalogs digitally and manage e-tailing businesses. E-Commerce consulting businesses also flourish with the services of mystery shoppers and the like.
Let’s look at how consumers behave in an e-tailing environment

Informed Decisions are being taken

The Internet is a repository of information about any product that a consumer might wish to buy. When consumers research, they feel empowered and are able to decide on a product over another, and make the right choice for their specific needs. Knowing consumer dynamics, site experience through all mediums like the Internet and Mobile must be made robust, if not spectacular. The challenge lies is making the consumers stick, for one bad experience, will get them moving.

Various Channels are being used

Consumer Satisfaction does not really measure just the quality of the product or service a business offers. The experience the consumer has had to go through to reach an end result is also to a great deal part of the consumer satisfaction quotient. Although the Internet tops the list of channels via which consumers shop, mobile devices and social channels are emerging. It must be called out specifically though, that the responsive web is playing a big part in making mobile one of the most promising channels of tomorrow.

Social Media: Converting conventional Consumers to online shopping gurus
Purchasing via social media is still an infant in the e-tailing ecosystem. However, the impact that a marketing page on a social media platform can have on a consumer is nothing short of huge. The scope of opportunity though, is very high, considering the following figures about Facebook:

  • A billion active users
  • 50% of active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • An average user has 130 friends

So on Facebook, these millions review a product, like it, don’t like it, suggest it: the reputation of a brand or a company can be made or broken in a few hours!
Everything sensational goes viral: be it good news, or bad. It is thus highly critical for businesses to guard their reputations with their lives.

What’s next for shoppers?

  • Cross-channel dynamics will be increasingly in place: Consumers will research on one medium, buy on another and review on yet another.
  • Younger customers who grow up possess an early-learned behavior, and hence they will not take an uninteresting shopping experience lightly.
  • Responsive design and simple yet powerful visual elements need to make consumers stick to an etailing business.

The future looks bright and sunny. And E-Commerce-ish, of course.

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