With social media, mobile technologies and other digital commerce tools emerging over the past 5 years, brands (both B2B and B2C alike) are having a difficult challenge in keeping up with the shifting trends in buyer behaviour and how to best reach their top online shoppers to maximize their spending online and in-store.
Before the day and age of social media and smartphones, brands seemingly had buyer behaviour nearly figured out knowing which types of promotions would drive certain consumers, what time of year to hold those promotions and across which cities. In addition to this, retailers almost had it boiled down to a science as to where in-store products should be placed in relation to their top competitors, what type of product placements in advertisements would help drive sales and this list goes on and on.
Digital Technology is Changing the Way we Shop
With the emergence of e-commerce sprouting to life between 1998-1999 thanks to developers creating the groundwork for security protocols (like HTTP), little did businesses know of the Pandora’s Box they were about to open and the affect this would have on buyer behaviour.
E-commerce has most certainly come a long way from those days and looking at Canada alone, it has been estimated that by 2015 Canada’s retail e-commerce will reach $30.9 billion; if you’re looking at F-Commerce alone, that is projected to reach $30 Billion for North America by the same year…and yes, you read that right….B.I.L.L.I.O.N.
Social commerce has more recently been shifting the way consumers interact with the online shopping experience. Facebook apps and other technologies developed by startups, are looking to socialize the shopping experience and are creating an online arena where the consumer can receive instant second opinions on their shopping purchases, share their “Likes” via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest and there is no slowing down. In 2011 alone, venture capitalists invested nearly $2 billion in social commerce startups, so if there is one thing we can predict, is that social commerce is here to stay for the long run – after all, hasn’t it always been about the people?
So how is Digital Technology affecting the way we shop?
1) E-Commerce and Social Commerce technology shorten the purchase cycle: Simply put, searching for products from the comfort of your home makes it simpler for us to purchase on impulse. In addition to Internet technology, the popularity of Smartphones and Tablets are also helping to decrease the purchase cycle with apps being developed on a daily basis to entice us to shop until we drop.
2) Mobile Apps Make it Easy for Consumers to Find What they Want When they Want it: Mobile technology is creating convenience for shoppers to find products they want, need and desire at any point in time, something that was not accomplished before the days of E-commerce and the Internet. Buyers now have the ability to purchase a product with the tap of a finger and have it shipped to their homes in a matter of days. With nearly half of Canadians and Americans owning a smartphone, there is no doubt that this space will continue to mould the way we shop for products.
3) Gamification is pushing us to Compete and Spend: Many brands are taking advantage of gamification to boost sales and solicit a competitive response purchase. With gamification initiatives like NBC Universal’s “Club Psych” and “Get Glue”, it’s no surprise that turning the shopping experience into a “world-is-flat” competition pinning your consumers against one another to win discounts and exclusive prizes, works to boost sales and increase loyalty.
There is no doubt that social commerce is here to stay but in the coming years it will become more critical than ever for brands to find ways to stay connected with their Fans / Consumers to keep pushing online sales. Retail has now entered the sleepless state, where commerce never sleeps and in order to remain competitive, brands (both large and small) will need to invest in new and creative means to connect their consumers with their online stores.
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