We might as well have that purchase key on the key board. It’s as easy as that… see, like, click – and it’s yours. Ecommerce has become a norm, and the keenness for online shopping just continues to climb. To see how the every increasing ease of buying your cookware, clothing, and furniture online came to be – let’s appreciate the growth of commerce into this electronic version. In the old days, it was the markets – bazaars – that first revolutionized commerce. When the idea emerged – the idea that, instead of neighbors trading goods, everyone could come together to maximize their benefits and minimize their hassle – commerce was born. Since then, it has evolved to continue bringing people and goods together in an exchange where participants trade until they obtain what adds the most value to their lives. Then came currencies to replace bartering. Then WalMart to aggregate products… then came the internet… and then… Amazon.
And it gets better everyday. There is a tendency for easing our daily desires and tasks, and certainly electronic commerce saves the day. It’s genius – just when we thought that it was optimal to bring everyone together to exchange goods and services for payment – ecommerce realized that we could do that without actually… bringing… anyone (physically) together.
So accessible and frequented… but actually, really mind-blowing. I could purchase my ideal baby car seat, new refrigerator, a fresh fruit basket, garden plant, or an obscure keychain from a high-end boutique across the country… right now. And it could be here tomorrow morning if I wanted it to be. Short of magic or superpowers to make anything appear right before my eyes, I’d call ecommerce the next best thing. All it takes to make ecommerce robust is buyers and sellers, WiFi, a credit card, and usually the mailman.
Studies show that ecommerce has sky rocketed in recent years, and growth rates in the most booming industry hotspots – the US, Europe and Japan – are expected to continue growing 10-15% per year. And deservingly so. Ecommerce offers endless options – of customers, places to shop, items to buy, and spread of the business. Not only is it convenient, but also, oftentimes, a cheaper offer of more variety. So we sacrifice… umm… nothing. Nothing at all… Well, except for the gas and time that we would have spent to fight the crowds to maybe find that one “eh, this will do” item that the store is out of in every color except for that maroon color that reminds you of your grandma.
According to a report by comscore, the total US retail e-commerce spending for the first 44 days of the November-December 2012 holiday season reached $33.8 billion, which is up 13% over the corresponding days in 2011. In fact, the report shows that 11 individual days of the 2012 holiday season to date have surpassed $1 billion in online retail sales – which already surpasses the record of 10 shopping days in 2011.
Of course in-store shopping is not obsolete; it has plenty of conveniences, too. What is astonishing, though, is the wildfire spread of ecommerce – and the valid reasons why it highly utilized. Shopping online not only cuts down on time and hassle, but also increasing access to the best choices for the best prices. Plain and simple – you can shop smarter. Ecommerce is a seamless blend of everything the the e-consumer and e-company could need to maximize at the shopping experience. Everything is integrated – from social media to advertising, consumer engagement and price setting. All digital touch points and business objectives are beautifully connected by ecommerce.
Shopping online is a functional way to compare prices, items, and learn the most-recent deals. With so many resources, and large-scale, quality-focused ecommerce companies, there should hardly be a trace of worry about what you’ll receive. But even so, the rise of ecommerce has brought the rise of websites like Slickdeals.org, Bizrate.com, and PriceGrabber.com to provide commentary. Can’t see, touch, feel, or try-on? That’s ok – websites provide pristine imagery, detailed descriptions, and consumer reviews or product videos are just a click away. Regardless, many businesses even allow returns! Ecommerce proves viable, though, when stats show that 62% of people say that they rarely return items that they bought online (lab42.com). But what if I have a question about a minute detail? No more “paging John to Customer Service.” Instead, you can just send an email, call the business, or live chat. In fact, 93% of people say that they have engaged in the hassle-free medium before they commit to a purchase (lab42.com).
The undeniable benefits of Ecommerce are certainly not unknown or underutilized. According to lab42 Market Research, statistics show that 73% of people do at least half of their shopping online, and 66% actually prefer to shop online as opposed to in the store. When asked why, they point to the convenience, and 4 out of 5 love the broader selection.
Now, we usually pay a premium for a service that makes life easier, right? Not with this unique industry. By nature, ecommerce can provide lower prices; they have less overhead costs than a company that maintains stores, meanwhile reaching the global market. So what does that mean for you? You pay less to shop in your pajamas, and get it delivered! Not only are there lower prices, but an abundance of deals – on items and on shipping (because you are an email subscriber, spent more than $50, referred a friend, or just because). The ability to provide deals is helpful for ecommerce companies to entice people. According to lab42 Market Research, 7 out of 10 people shop online for better sales, and 2 out of 3 shop online for cheaper prices.
From the business perspective, pursuing ecommerce is an attractive avenue. With internet as the company locus – there’s intense innovation and creativity to be incorporated into business plans. Even amongst the challenge of launching a brand online (mentioned by many an ecommerce businessperson), there is Internet optimization to be had. As an ecommerce company with less need for mark-up, the business can give better deals, and focus on maximizing whatever fulfills consumer needs. It’s also cheap to change online prices based on market signals, and easy to disseminate your brand. Through social media, advertisements, emailing, brand videos, and consumer referrals – everything is interconnected for the perfect composition of an ecommerce company. The potential is clear when even companies with multiple physical locations, like BestBuy and IKEA, have maximized the gains from complementing their stores with electronic shopping.