One of the biggest misconceptions people have surrounding the meaning of “e commerce” is that it is nothing more than an online shopping cart. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, e commerce has many different components and benefits to suit any business. From invoicing capabilities to geo-location and even volume discounts, e commerce has pretty much everything you need in order to run a streamlined business.
For instance, one of the most effective ways to utilize e-commerce solutions in your company is thought Market Research. E-commerce has the ability to track user preferences which can in turn help you to target products towards them; eg., online questionnaires, registrations, polls, past purchases, and so on. This market segmentation and knowledge can be extremely useful for your current marketing strategies, business schemes, and future goals. Once you have skillfully obtained this data, you can further benefit by analyzing them so that you could better understand and target your clients.
E-commerce gives you access to highly-sought after information, so that you could in turn, enhance both your revenues and client satisfaction. Some of the ways you could take advantage of this data is through:
- optimizing your product line — adding in-demand goods and removing ones that are not
- advertising more efficiently — target specific market segments with your products
- adjusting prices — increase, decrease or maintain prices based on the supply and demand for your product
- E-mail upcoming sales, promotions, coupons, and newsletters — to clients who seem interested or whom have requested such information
To put this into perspective, let’s look at an Shoedazzle, is a virtual shoe store where visitors can sign up to have personalized shoes sent to them on a monthly basis for a fee. What is particularly interesting about this site, is that before users can receive their stylish heels at their doorsteps, they have to participate in a “style profile” survey. In this 20 some-odd-number questionnaire, prospects are asked a range of specific questions about their shopping behaviours, tastes, preferences, and lifestyle choices. This questionnaire it is in fact, a subtle and indirect way for this company’s staff to collect valuable information on their consumers in order to offer them customized products.
Another strategic use of e-commerce can be seen in the recent viral concept of Groupon–which is a website that features daily deals on everything from entertainment to clothing and even trips. The uniqueness of this business is not the huge merchandise discounts that are being offered to online consumers, what does distinguish this website from others is that people only get the “deal of the day” if adequate number of other consumers also want it. This encourages buyers to contact one and another to join in on the featured item before it’s too late. The time-frame to generate enough hype and demand for any particular product is until midnight of the day the coupon is posted. This not only elevates the number of products/services that are bought–which in turn creates enhanced exposure and profits for the businesses behind the deals–but it also gets users excited about buying products that they may have never otherwise wanted or even thought about.
Finally, one of our own clients–who has a highly personalized retail environment–is implementing a system which makes it more convenient for existing customers to re-order things they have purchased in the past.
How do you plan to use e commerce in your business strategically?