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27/01/2014 by
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Predicting The Social Future Of eCommerce For Small Business

eCommerce sure has come a long way in the last 25 years. It wasn’t that long ago that you had to physically go to a Nike store or sneaker retailer to purchase a new pair of basketball shoes, remember?

future of ecommerce 500x291 Predicting The Social Future Of eCommerce For Small Business

Now, new Jordan’s are only a click away at the Nike online store or from retailers like Amazon.

Amazon, the largest player in eCommerce, has been putting up some incredible numbers lately. Even just this fall, Amazon announced a whopping 24% increase in revenue.

That being said, the future of eCommerce for small business is wide open. Consumers are moving online but not strictly to major retailers like Amazon.

The Future of eCommerce for Small Business

Okay, great: consumers are shopping online. But what specifically does the future of eCommerce mean for small businesses? Hint: it looks increasingly social!

Byebye traditional brick and mortar! With the dawn of online shopping, brick and mortar stores are being forced to reorganize. Soon, people won’t visit malls solely with the intention of buying goods.

Instead, brick and mortar stores will also act as showrooms where consumers can use/touch the product and then purchase online.

For example StyleSpotter, a discovery and shopping app by ZipfWorks, will allow fashionistas to make the most of a day out trying on clothes.

With the knowledge of what fits well and works with their style, StyleSpotters can then take to the app to find the lowest prices available for the styles they loved!

If small businesses can integrate their instore experience with an online one, they will have customers involved with the brand at an unprecedented level.

Knipsel 500x369 Predicting The Social Future Of eCommerce For Small Business

StyleSpotter via ZipfWorks

Consumers want to be treated like individuals. It’s absurdly difficult to log onto Amazon and log back off without buying something. We’ve all been lured along the trail of Amazon’s recommendations.

Video services like Netflix and Hulu are also treating their customers like individuals with movie and TV show recommendations within the online experience.

By recognizing individual customers and knowing what they need before they do, small businesses can vastly improve the purchasing process.

Customers are your best salespeople. Social media is growing in importance for big and small business alike. The space is undefined, meaning anything is possible. This also means there’s plenty of room for you!

Everyday brands are finding new ways to use social and gaining brand advocates along the way. If small businesses can manage to develop strong communities around their product, these brand advocates then become their best salespeople.

When you consider brand advocates spend on average two times as much as regular consumers and share/recommend up to four times as much, it’s plain to see that brand advocates on social media are essential to small business growth in the future of eCommerce.

The Future of Marketing Infographic March 2013 500x2759 Predicting The Social Future Of eCommerce For Small Business

Infographic via Crowdtap.

Increased interest in retailers other than Amazon. Amazon is huge and there’s almost a zero percent chance your eCommerce business will surpass what Amazon has managed to build.

But don’t get discouraged! Consumers are moving to platforms like Groupon and Pinterest for their online shopping.

Small businesses that recognize niche, thirdparty retailers will be able to tap into a specific market that could, gasp, in turn lead to brand advocates!

See what I did there?

The Small Business Takeaway

As the retail landscape shifts and moves further online, small businesses should be aware of a few things they can do to ride the eCommerce wave.

Develop a smartphone application. Or at the very least, optimize your website for browsers on smartphones and tablets. It’s estimated that some 15% of online retail sales will take place on a mobile device this year.

People are shopping on mobile and if you’re site isn’t optimized for it, you can expect a high bounce rate. By having an app or a site that looks and responds well on mobile, you are making it as easy as possible for your customers to find what they want.

And you don’t need to be a sales guru to know that means more revenue in the future of eCommerce!

Build a strong social presence. Building a community around your product is the best way to develop brand advocates. And the best way to build a community is to be engaging on social media.

Use social media to listen to your consumers. Offer them specials that will attract them away from other, more established, retailers. Share news in your industry that you know your followers will be interested in.

Brands who can develop and maintain strong online communities will be the most successful in the future of eCommerce.

Keep up with the newest trends.
The online retail space is evolving every single day with new manufacturers and distributors.

To thrive in the future of eCommerce, small businesses must keep up on the newest trends not only in eCommerce, but the online world in general. Imagine having the foresight to have been one of the first established brands on Pinterest!

By making predictions on how your customers may act, you can beat your competitors to the punch and drive your own sales.

My Opinion

Retailers have to move online if they want to succeed in the future of eCommerce. Especially small businesses.

To me, the rise of brands like Groupon, Pinterest and of course, Amazon, provide all the proof you need. These entities identified a niche, created highly personal and social shopping experiences online and are now dominant forces.

The potential reach online is far greater than a brick and mortar store in a single city, somewhere down on 6th Avenue. As retailers further develop and personalize the eCommerce experience, consumers will see a significant shift in how shopping is done.

It won’t be long before we’re buying certain products almost exclusively online, even if we’ve demoed them in person.

People are social and including that as part of the shopping experience will be essential for success in the future of eCommerce.

How About You?
Do you think the future of shopping is destined to move online? Will brick and mortar stores be completely replaced by sites like Amazon, Groupon and Pinterest or is there a place for storefronts in the future of eCommerce?

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About the Author
Eric White is the Online Marketing Coordinator at BluePromoCode, a Los Angeles, California company. Connect with Eric on Twitter.

 

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