The E-commerce Platform Buyers Guide by E-Consultancy highlights the key market drivers going forward, and, as an e-commerce vendor we've also seen how these growing trends are impacting our customers. EPiServer has been featured as one of the e-commerce platform vendors and I wanted to share the key takeaways from the guide in this post.
According to the IMRG Capgemini e-Retail Sales Index published in January 2012, £68 billion was spent online during 2011 in the UK. On top of this, the UK is a substantial net exporter of ecommerce goods and services, with the most recent figures suggesting that for every £1 of goods imported, £2.80 was exported. The figures highlight the increasing internationalization of online sales, and it is a huge opportunity for retailers wanting to grow customer reach and market share outside their home turf. In today's globalized marketplace, your customers can live down the road or be scattered across the world. Success here requires agility and deep understanding of the local markets. Each market adds a layer of cultural and monetary complexity to accept and manage customer orders and it can be a costly exercise to create localized websites for all of your international markets without thinking through how to manage your multiple sites efficiently as it grows.
Omnichannel behavior moves mainstream
Google's research revealed that people spend their time online between 4 different media devices (smartphone, table, PC/laptop, TV) and use 3 different screen combinations everyday. This trend, which E-consultancy calls Omnichannel behaviours, of course has an impact on retailers' ability to deliver a seamless and coherent customer experience across multiple touch points to meet the customer's need. Failing to connect the online experience is listed as one of the major threats in E-consultancy's report. It goes to show how online retailers are still falling short in this area. Our own research, Benchmarking the Digital High Street, also shows that over a third of the online shoppers (36%) said that the amount of online shopping they do has increased over the last year and almost half have also made purchases using a mobile device in the last six months. The pressure on "multi-multi" experience will therefore continue to be the battleground for companies wanting to succeed with online sales in 2013.
Entering big data
Understanding customer behavior, analyzing the user journey the customer takes and adapting the online experience will become vital for retailers. E-Consultancy sees big potential for data-driven insights, on-site performance tools will become critical for measuring and improving the experience across the online journey. One word of caution here is not to fall into the trap of last click attribution, but go beyond that to understand impact of each touch points. The use of big data is still in the early adoption phase, but the ability to combine behavioral data with both content and product analytics will give retailers the new competitive advantage - meaningful and real-time insights to optimize the customer experience.
Another aspect that caught my attention was just how much growth potential the industry presents in the near future. E-Consultancy points to the fact that online still represents a relatively small percentage of total sales in some sectors and has the potential to become much more significant. Our own experience shows that B2B commerce is growing at a rapid pace, with companies that have not previously been selling online finding new opportunity to better serve their customers and expanding sales. For example, an EPiServer customer, SystemAir, a leading manufacturer of heating, ventilation and cooling products, has recently move from an 'brochure web' to a fully transactional site for their customers in over 40 markets. This is fast becoming a common scenario, which I believe we will see more B2B companies tapping into the world of e-commerce in the near future.
Let me know if you agree! Otherwise, feel free to share your own views of where the market is heading.