1 October 2019

Blog Series on E-commerce websites

Welcome to our series on the best e-commerce platforms to sell on. Over the next ten weeks we will be exploring the advantages and disadvantages of each of these platforms for your companies website.  Square Online Store, WooCommerce, X-cart, Zen Cart, Magento Open Source, OpenCart, PrestaShop, osCommerce, JigoShop, Drupal Commerce, WP ecommerce, Ubercart, Wix, Big Cartel, Jimdo and Ecwid.

A complicated past
Social media has long provided marketers a more cost-efficient and targeted way to reach potential customers. Using Facebook user data and targeted advertising, brands can reach their exact consumer based on real data points, rather than “spraying and praying” on other channels such as TV or print.

At the same time, with talks of a retail meltdown after swathes of big-brand bankruptcies and shop closures around the world, over the past decade, retailers big and small have increasingly moved from brick-and-mortar to ecommerce.

Given these two concurrent trends, it would seem like a no-brainer for businesses to jump on the social commerce bandwagon. However, while it might seem like a match made in heaven, the fact is that this is not the first time social and shopping have had a fling, and traditionally, it has not worked out. After all, Twitter tried a buy button to drive sales through its platform, and it then gradually phased it out after it failed to hook consumers.

The big problem is that with an abundance of shopping and social options available, consumers simply aren’t using social platforms to buy products. Social media plays a vital role early on the sales funnel, as a research tool and influencer, but to date, most consumers are still not buying directly via social platforms. In fact, a recent study shows that less than one-half of Facebook users have ever bought a product after clicking on a post or a link in a post.

From the outset, social media platforms have offered an invaluable resource for marketers to drive sales online and in-store by reaching the right audiences through targeted advertising. In fact, recent studies suggest that as many as 87 percent of ecommerce shoppers believe social media plays a vital role in helping them make shopping decisions.

However, while social platforms have always been a marketer’s dream, in recent years, we have witnessed multiple leading social media platforms trying to bridge the gap between social and shopping by facilitating direct purchases within their platforms. And with the introduction of more integrated shoppable ads on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, there have been whispers that 2018 may be the year social commerce gains traction.

But while social giants are trying to wriggle out of the position of middleman and get behind the counter, are the models of social media and ecommerce really a match made in heaven?

In order to further understand where e-commerce is going we should look at where it has been.

E-commerce is the activity of buying or selling of products on online services or over the Internet. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems.

Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web for at least one part of the transaction’s life cycle although it may also use other technologies such as e-mail. Typical e-commerce transactions include the purchase of online books (such as Amazon) and music purchases (music download in the form of digital distribution such as iTunes Store), and to a less extent, customized/personalized online liquor store inventory services. There are three areas of e-commerce: online retailing, electronic markets, and online auctions. E-commerce is supported by electronic business.

E-commerce businesses may also employ some or all of the followings:
• Online shopping for retail sales direct to consumers via Web sites and mobile apps, and conversational commerce via live chat, chatbots, and voice assistants
• Providing or participating in online marketplaces, which process third-party business-to-consumer or consumer-to-consumer sales
• Business-to-business buying and selling;
• Gathering and using demographic data through web contacts and social media
• Business-to-business (B2B) electronic data interchange
• Marketing to prospective and established customers by e-mail or fax (for example, with newsletters)
• Engaging in pretail for launching new products and services
• Online financial exchanges for currency exchanges or trading purposes.
• Contemporary electronic commerce can be classified into two categories. The first category is business based on types of goods sold (involves everything from ordering “digital” content for immediate online consumption, to ordering conventional goods and services, to “meta” services to facilitate other types of electronic commerce). The second category is based on the nature of the participant (B2B, B2C, C2B and C2C);

On the institutional level, big corporations and financial institutions use the internet to exchange financial data to facilitate domestic and international business. Data integrity and security are pressing issues for electronic commerce.
Aside from traditional e-commerce, the terms m-Commerce (mobile commerce) as well (around 2013) t-Commerce have also been used.

• E-commerce markets are growing at noticeable rates. The online market is expected to grow by 56% in 2015–2020. In 2017, retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 2.3 trillion US dollars and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 4.88 trillion US dollars in 2021. Traditional markets are only expected 2% growth during the same time. Brick and mortar retailers are struggling because of online retailer’s ability to offer lower prices and higher efficiency. Many larger retailers are able to maintain a presence offline and online by linking physical and online offerings.

E-commerce allows customers to overcome geographical barriers and allows them to purchase products anytime and from anywhere.

There are two ways for marketers to conduct business through e-commerce: fully online or online along with a brick and mortar store. However, online retailers cannot offer the physical experience that traditional retailers can. It can be difficult to judge the quality of a product without the physical experience, which may cause customers to experience product or seller uncertainty. Another issue regarding the online market is concerns about the security of online transactions. Many customers remain loyal to well-known retailers because of this issue.

Over the next 10 weeks, our blog series will be focusing on the different e-commerce platforms and what is used in certain sectors of the market.