Tim O’Reilly introduced the concept of Web 2.0 to make sense out of what was next for software solutions. Web 2.0 explains how the realities of tomorrow will change how software solutions are designed, created, and used.
Understanding the new possibilities for Web 2.0 software and its principles is the foundation for understanding the future of eCommerce. It is also the foundation for taking advantage of eCommerce 2.0 principles and the new trends they drive. The Principles of eCommerce 2.0 Just as Web 2.0 is altering the software development landscape, the principles of eCommerce 2.0 will define how one does business online.
The Principles of eCommerce 2.0
Sell Everywhere – Be Seen and Be Shopped Customer expectations for how and when they buy products have changed substantially over the past few years. Multi-channel selling was once limited to managing direct sales, a call center, a website, and possibly a partner channel. With eCommerce 2.0, this has been expanded and refined to include various online channels. These new channels include additional branded websites, various online marketplaces (such as eBay, Amazon.com, Overstock.com, and others), and online shopping comparison engines (such as Shopping.com, PriceGrabber.com, and others).
The Long Tail – Target Niche Markets eTailers who can connect with niche markets and provide a better online experience are capitalizing on new-found revenue. In the past, the obvious strategy was to find the bulk of the market and then mass market to them. With so much competition, many online merchants have adapted by discovering new methods and tools that target specific niche markets. These niche markets are not flooded by the big brands and respond well to content and online experiences directed specifically at them. In many cases, the demands of these niche markets are simply not being met by big brands. The Long Tail principle of eCommerce 2.0 is about being able to reach beyond the traditional prospect base and tap the potential of niche markets.
Customers Rule – Build a Community of Raving Fans Buyers were once along for the ride in the eCommerce process. Now they are in the driver’s seat. The content buyers create through forums such as product reviews, blogs, and social networks influences other buyers as much or more than any promotion eTailers create. Forums like YouTube and MySpace underscore how content created by consumers has become a viable and valuable part of the promotional and sales cycle for retailers. The most frightening aspect of these forums for many eTailers is the perceived loss of control over content being published.
Personalized Shopping – Make It Fun to Shop and Easy to Buy Shopping has long been considered a recreational activity by many. Shopping online is no exception. In fact, with the sophistication and speed of online shopping tools, consumers are spending more and more on eTailer sites. The best of these shopping tools takes into account that buyers want to be entertained and pleased. Buyers also—just as in the brick-and-mortar world—do not like long checkout processes. When building your online brand, regardless of channel, remember that speedy checkout equates to happier buyers who are more likely to return and buy again.
Mash-ups – Integrate and Collaborate Integration is nothing new, but what is new is how dynamically these integrations need to be initiated, modified, and used. The eCommerce 2.0 environment is built upon many interrelated systems and processes that require information to be exchanged dynamically. This happens between many systems based on individual user experience and the context of a particular customer interaction or order. Seamless access and interaction between systems is what promotes increased conversions and buyer loyalty, as well as attracts new buyers.
Data is King – Collect a Wealth of Opportunities Gone are the days of looking at purely operational reports. Seeing how many listings you have in a marketplace is fine, but it does not tell you how you compare to other eTailers, what your performance is like over time, or what other channels may be more profitable. eCommerce 2.0 is about collecting and managing data from all online channels to enable better business decisions. Discovering product opportunities relies on being able to define business objectives carefully, identify related key performance indicators (KPIs), and receive continual data to act on it.