• June 24, 2011
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Our New e-Commerce Reality

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Three fast-moving developments are threatening to disrupt e-commerce as we know it. Improvements in first-generation recommendation engines (used by sites such as Amazon.com), the maturity of mobile commerce, and the emergence of group buying services are creating the new normal.

Amazon.com, the perennial e-commerce disrupter and leader of the past decade, has helped to close the doors of many traditional retailers by focusing on one critical element: creating a personalized buying experience. It’s an approach that many industry analysts and consultants have been touting for years, giving Amazon.com high praise for making product recommendations based on purchase history (e.g., Customers who purchased X also purchased Y.).

But a new crop of e-commerce vendors argues that their technologies can make the buying experience even more personalized. They posit that by incorporating a variety of customer data—such as purchase history, page-view history, location, and Internet speed—their technologies do a better job of understanding a shopper’s intent.

As a result, they can make more relevant product recommendations, which increases conversion rates. For a look at some of the leading e-commerce technologies and to see which vendors offer them, read the feature, “eSurvivor: Commerce Challenge.” In it you also will see recent e-commerce strategies from companies such as Cabela’s, Dell, and Lands’ End. And you’ll find a collection of some of the leading e-commerce vendors in the article, “The Shifting e-Commerce Marketplace.”

Continuing our 16-page coverage of new e-commerce challenges and opportunities, the feature, “Mobile Commerce: The New Retail Therapy.” by Associate Editor Brittany Farb, explains how mobile devices are drastically changing the way consumers shop. In fact, Brittany gives one example of how consumers, using their mobile devices, have scanned product barcodes in Best Buy to check Amazon.com for cheaper prices, and some even purchased the product “while they were still on the retailer’s property.” Ouch! Clearly, all’s fair in love and war—and retail.

So, are retailers without options? No. Some are fighting back with mobile strategies of their own, such as Crocs, which has converted at a higher percentage than anticipated. Read Brittany’s story for more on Crocs’ success and other mobile commerce trends.

The e-commerce revolution doesn’t stop there. During the past few years, group buying services, namely Groupon and SocialLiving, have been generating a lot of attention. Those companies send consumers, via email or mobile devices, daily coupons for products and services. The concept is a boon for businesses, especially local merchants.

In fact, Groupon says nearly all of the merchants (97 percent) that have used its group buying service to attract customers either would use the service again or recommend it to a colleague, according to the feature story, “Digital Deals du Jour All the Rage in e-Commerce.” Groupon has grown so quickly during its short three-year history that even Google has taken notice and offered to buy the company for $6 billion. And, as if that’s not shocking enough, Groupon turned Google down!

Clearly, executives at Groupon believe they are onto something big and that its group buying service is not going away anytime soon. There’s no mistaking that these trends are redefining our new e-commerce reality. Help your organization prepare for the challenge—and the opportunities—by reading this month’s e-commerce triple-feature package.

Editorial Director David Myron can be reached at dmyron@infotoday.com or @dmyron on Twitter.

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