E-commerce is evolving, and not the way you think it is

The new e-commerce is visual, it is contextual

Semantics3    2 mins

E-commerce is changing, and for the better. Amazon’s shopping cart is a dying breed. There’s a whole new plethora of start-ups who are shaking up e-commerce in a good way.

Essentially, e-commerce used to be about showing as much choice to the consumer as possible. It used to be about price, it used to be about selections.

The new e-commerce mediums are so much more. The focus has shifted, with multiple mediums targeting different shopping styles, reflecting the new trend of contextual shopping.

Contextual shopping is happening now. According to Techcrunch, phones acting like shopping concierges, push out contextual data to shoppers, increasing their interaction with the webstore or product, and helps push sales revenue.

This is important. The shopper will hate you if your app or store pushes tons of notifications and emails begging them to visit/buy/look. A contextual message, inserted at the right time, can incept a purchase into the buyers’ mind.

This is why generic e-commerce with its million-and-one choices and sales funnel is evolving. There is so much more focus on presenting choices to customers.

Platforms like Shopify, Magento, Volusion, and Bigcommerce are allowing smaller e-commerce outfits to create beautiful, visual store layouts easily

Marketplaces like Fab and Etsy have attempted to meld the solo artistan-creator concept with the business side of an e-commerce operation

Community-driven online shopping experiences like Wanelo and Polyvore have successfully reinvented online shopping as what it should have always been: a social, communal experience.

You also have the quirky emerging concepts of subscription shopping like Birchbox where customers pay a monthly subscription to be “pleasantly surprised” by periodic shipments of items they love — the perfect example of product discovery and suggestion. Taking this concept even further, Shoedazzle delivers subscribers with a monthly updated “showroom” that’s been curated to their tastes. They don’t have to buy anything, but can choose to purchase customize choices at a later date.

The new ecommerce is about creating a beautiful, memorable shopping experience.

So how would you prepare for this?

Better analytics will help you understand your customer better. By understanding how the customer interacts with your website, you’re in a better position to control the shopping experience, and thereby guide your sales flow. But the right type of analytics matters.

Current analytics platforms aren’t designed well for the new ecommerce. Analytics were originally designed for sites, not products. They measured stuff like origin of visits, geography, purchase funnels, conversion-ratios etc. There was poor focus on the product itself. That’s a problem, because if a site does not work well with the product, its going to be difficult selling the experience to the shopper.

A key lesson here: Ecommerce is just as much about experience as it is about giving the best deals.

Product-specific analytics tools like product/category purchase funnels, dynamic pricing engines, assortment intelligence, and price comparison help you better position your product against the competition.

Product analytics + site analytics = magic

I run Business Growth at Semantics3, where we help create many of the product-specific datafeeds used by many ecommerce businesses to create good product analytics. Talk to us to find out how we can help your business!

Image copyright: Hariharan Viswanathan

Published at: August 02, 2014

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