Ecommerce is now a multi-billion pound industry. As more consumers move online, and as online media channels increase our dependency on the internet, ecommerce continues to rise with sales volume increasing quarter after quarter. The internet has created an opportunity for a paradigm shift – offline brand exposure filters through to the internet, however in a somewhat diluted — and third-party dependant — fashion.
Offline retailers that moved online close sales through online channels from customers they have acquired in the offline world, however their dependence on direct media channels should not be underrated. Harnessing ecommerce often means harnessing search engine algorithms to increase organic search engine results – through this channel and through paid search, advertisers are not merely looking for traffic from branded search phrases. The ability to drive sales through generic and brand indecisive search queries created an opportunity for easy scalability and few barriers to trade compared to the offline world. Offline brands have the advantage in terms of search engine algorithms favoring editorially given links – something which they garner much easier than others – as well as their larger budgets and economies of sales which they can leverage from the offline world.
Savvy marketers, who understand the internet and how to capitalize on the opportunities it provides, are not the CEOs of ecommerce outfits seeing double digital growth as they eat away at market share of large brands. Post bubble we have seen little consolidation in the ecommerce side of the online business world either. The simple reason for this is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing has provided opportunities for savvy marketers to partner with offline retailers and take commissions on sales they refer offline. Marketers then have the opportunity to take advantage of their partner’s economies of scale, brand awareness and lack of flexibility. Affiliate marketers opt for what they see as a more scalable business model, while they sacrifice the value of a customer throughout their lifecycle and fail to use their competitive advantage to rapidly build market share when they are on an even playing field with the larger brands.
That is why the time to truly harness ecommerce is now. Through using the internet it is easy to build a scalable business which is not restricted by geography or particularly capital intensive. Through commissioning an ecommerce website you can diversify your sales channels and provide a medium through which to leverage direct marketing channels such as paid and organic search. A highly usable website coupled with great customer service will lead to high rates of customer retention, positive brand exposure and continued growth.
The important element of successful ecommerce companies is their willingness to test new marketing mediums, which do not require large initial investments, and to scale up whenever an opportunity arises. Where an asset such as a shop may cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, an ecommerce website is much cheaper, many fixed costs become variable ones, and geographical restriction is replaced with only technophobia – ensure that you capitalize on the opportunity before consolidation happens and barriers to trade tighten.