Visiting eCommerce Expo in London was a real pleasure again. It’s obvious the eCommerce industry is developing quickly, it’s professionalism increases. Main topics this year: personalization, localization, big data & privacy and mobile commerce. This post is a rough summary of our first impressions. More detailed observations will follow.
1. Personalization: user centric offering
For Disney it’s obvious, they do everything within their capabilities to create a unique experience for every visitor of their parks. Probably every eCommerce merchant would love to do the same, but this 1:1 approach seems to scare us.
94% of businesses [source: Econsultancy, April 2013] stated that personalisation ‘is critical to current and future success.’ And the good news is that the consumer would like to be treated personal, because 74% of consumers [source: Janrain, July 2013] get frustrated with websites when content, offers, ads, promotions, etc. appear that have nothing to do with their interests.
According to Michael Cottrell, Director Sales Silverpop, marketing is using old fashioned methods resulting in spamming the customer. He explained how every eCommerce merchant can provide a personal Mom & Pop experience.
Both sides seem to be willing to bridge the gap and therefore the merchants will have to better understand the consumer’s intent when he visits a webshop according to Steve Shaw of Branded3. We need to be fully aware of the customer journey as Dave Chaffey, CEO Smart Insights, presented (link to presentation on Sharepoint).
2. Thinking local enables you to act global
Setting up an international webshop might seem an easy job, but the opposite is the case. There are many thinks to consider before you will have a successful cross boarder business.
This starts with choosing the language of your website. Amir Schlachet, CEO of Global-e, argued that it might be acceptable for the international consumer when your website presents the products in English and some essential parts, like the welcome message and payment possibilities are localized. In his opinion a full translation might be far too expensive and besides it’s really hard to guarantee a “native” experience. Therefore, it might be better to clearly show what you are, instead of trying to look “local”.
He also presented that only about 15% of all payments are card payments, because 85% are local payment methods. This means that you will have to be aware to offer these local payment methods when offering your products to other countries. At the Expo several providers offered their solutions for this payment challenge.
The same applies to delivery solutions. Shipment preferences vary by country and individual consumers have their preferences as well. In case you want to distinguish yourself, you will have to take this into account when selecting your logistic provider(s).
3. Big data & privacy
As mentioned above the consumers would like to be offered things that he needs and the merchant wants to become more personal. That seems an ideal marriage. Unfortunately, the consumer seems not really willing to provide a lot of information. Privacy is becoming a big issue.
Probably everybody is aware that many (if not all) websites gather usage data. This data is being used for different purposes and most often to make the customer journey a more pleasant one, preferably increasing conversions.
Storing all the page interactions leads to a lot of data, which we call nowadays “big data”. By analyzing this data you can learn a lot. For sure it can tell you how to improve your webshop’s flow and it might show technical issues that consumers experience. Increasingly websites are using this information to segment thousands or millions of clients into smaller segments. Easy segmentation is based on e.g. gender, age, location and preferences. Ultimately, you want to segmentize up to segments of 1.
Today’s data gathering is not sufficiently transparent for the consumers. They are not aware what data is being collected and what it is being used for. This is a problem that for sure will have to be solved. Consumer’s privacy should be one of our main concerns.
4. Mobile commerce
Last but for sure not least the mobile commerce opportunity. This already long awaited revolution of the e-commerce market is still not fully there. For sure users are increasingly searching for products on their smartphones and tablets, but closing the deal is still limited. Almost seven in 10 smartphone and tablet owners (68%) have attempted to make purchases on their device. However, problems during the payment process have forced two-thirds (66%) to abandon their transactions (source: Jumio, 9 May 2013).
According to David Pope, Marketing Director Jumio, this has to do with the complexity of the checkout process. Experiments show significant conversion increase when you are really focused on streamlining the mobile experience.
Improving the user experience is key. You cannot just copy your webshop to a mobile page. David Pope mentioned a mobile app where the checkout form was reduced from 11 to 4 data fields. The conversion increase was 160%. Another great example presented by Olov Eriksson, Product Manager Klarna, is a mobile store where you can buy without payment. The consumer has to buy 14 days after delivery.
It seems high time that we completely rethink the mobile commerce opportunity.
Summarizing: E-commerce industry doing very well
The overall conclusion after these two eCommerce Expo days in London is that the industry is doing very well. Compared to earlier events the industry is for sure becoming more professional and international. Simplification of processes, personalization and privacy are three seemingly conflicting subjects, which the industry tries to solve together allowing both consumers and merchants to profit.