Did you know that 51% of Americans prefer to shop online? This is the case according to the Comprehensive Modern Consumer Shopping Habits Study conducted by BigCommerce and Square for 2018. Electronic commerce or E-commerce refers to any type of business that involves online internet transactions and it is a market that is booming. In fact, at this very second, my online shopping cart for Amazon is filled and waiting to be checked out (if only I could stop adding to it).
The three general categories of e-commerce products are: physical goods, digital goods and services. In the case of all of these categories, utilizing an online storefront is the most direct channel of e-commerce. This means that essentially, a website is created and used to sell the products and services. Through its conveniency and customization offerings, competition with brick-and-mortar stores and integration of online and physical experiences, e-commerce is changing the landscape of business.
Conveniency and Customization Offerings
E-commerce has been successful because of its efficiency and effectiveness. It gives consumers immediate purchase-satisfaction without the hassle of having to be present in-store. With one click of a button, you can have all of the groceries, clothes or Star Wars bobbleheads your heart desires delivered straight to your door. There are absolutely no physical barriers; a product can be purchased at any time from anywhere.
One of the biggest facilitators of e-commerce has been social media. Huge social platforms like Facebook and Instagram have really paved the way for e-commerce by featuring merchandise, promoting sales and guiding interested shoppers to a merchant’s website. This strategy and use of digital marketing channels has allowed e-commerce to be very effective in its industry growth.
Furthermore, e-commerce is not only convenient; it’s customizable. You want to combine weird colors for a pair of Nike shoes? Sure. You want vitamins tailored to exactly what your body needs? Done. Customization has become a valuable asset to e-commerce because it allows consumers to interact with the product and feel like they are part of the process of development.
Competition with Brick-and-Mortar Stores
With the increasing growth of e-commerce, brick-and-mortar stores are now feeling pressure. Although there are certain segments that have not been affected such as vehicles, gasoline and restaurants…the one segment that has felt the biggest impact is retail. Consumers are simply not shopping in the same way that they used to. Department stores are failing and continue to decrease in sales and revenue. Big names like Toys“R”Us and RadioShack have declared bankruptcy. As consumer habits have shifted and online shopping has become more prominent, physical stores have struggled to catch up.
According to Retail Dive’s Consumer Survey from 2017, despite the increase in e-commerce spending, the majority of American consumers still have one immense reservation with online shopping: they are unable to touch and feel products. It’s the biggest reason why consumers choose to shop in-stores rather than online. The experience of handling a tangible product and being able to take it home immediately simply cannot be replicated.
Integration of Online and Physical Experiences
With all of that being said, there has actually been movement from the e-commerce realm into the brick-and-mortar space. The idea behind this is to create a more integrated experience for consumers. It seems almost contradictory from what analytic reports have told us about declining retail spaces, but this move from an online to a physical presence is strategic—it’s called omni-channel retailing. Businesses are looking to bridge the gap and to create a more seamless experience for users shopping both online and in stores. Popular online companies such as Amazon, Warby Parker and Bonobos have already invested in physical stores to improve their market return, build better customer relationships, and increase online traffic and sales.
Another reason for this move from online to physical stores is the sheer number of websites amassed on the web. Sucharita Mulpuru, a retail analyst at Forrester Research, noted that “It’s very hard to launch a brand these days that’s just online-only. It’s an incredibly difficult and crowded e-commerce environment.” She mentioned that there are more than 800,000 online stores competing to draw customers in. In order to outrank the other 800,000 retailers on Google, businesses have to invest in successful keywords amongst other marketing strategies and that can get expensive very fast.
So what’s the big idea in all of this? It’s that e-commerce is continuing to evolve and consumers are buying into it big time. The market as we know it is changing drastically with the ideas of accessibility and personalization leading e-commerce to beat out brick-and-mortar stores. More so, businesses are now looking to go beyond the choice of either e-commerce or brick-and-mortar. Rather, they are seeking to build a flawless consumer experience that stretches across both online and physical platforms. This is completely new territory and has been a hot-topic of discussion here at Mellonaid. Will e-commerce surpass all of our expectations? Will brick-and-mortar become obsolete? How will the future of marketing operate?
From what we know, e-commerce will continue to rise and change how online and physical stores function. Our team at Mellonaid recommends being up-to-date and strategic regarding digital marketing and brand presence. Brands must understand their consumers and the trends of both e-commerce and brick-and-mortar stores. Only with an adaptable and well-executed strategy can brands stay relevant and remain profitable.