E-commerce changes retail strategies in Europe

E-commerce is drastically changing the way retail businesses attract and retain customers. How will these continue to develop?


E-commerce trends are continuing to alter the way businesses approach the sales process, disrupting established strategies and forcing companies to move elements of their operating procedures online.

The overall intensity of internet usage is continuing to effect this, with 4G connections and cheap mobile devices ensuring consumers can access these platforms any time and anywhere. Despite the fact that e-commerce is generally positioned as a trend that is altering consumer behaviour, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development found that almost 90 per cent of all transactions are actually B2B focussed.

Businesses that can make use of e-commerce channels are therefore in the best position to create a user-friendly purchasing process no matter who their audience is.

E-commerce shapes European retail sector

Although B2B transactions are stealing some of the limelight from the retail sector, there are still a number of developments shaping consumer habits.

Forrester Research discovered that almost half of all retail sales in Europe will be affected by e-commerce initiatives by 2020, which equates to over €900 billion worth of transactions.

In particular, the firm believes that the UK will be home to the most cross-channel and online sales, with Northern-European countries not far behind.

The key to these developments, Forrester Research believes, is the smartphone. Now, almost half of all online traffic for retailers is conducted on a smartphone. However, just because a large percentage of users are accessing e-commerce platforms doesn’t mean that brick-and-mortar stores are being taken out of the equation.

Forrester Research found that retail stores are starting to instal kiosks that are connected to the internet. This means that customers can browse online for what they’re looking to purchase before inspecting the physical version.

In some cases, retailers are giving shop assistants tablets and other connected devices to blur the lines between the physical and the digital.

Facebook joins the fray

While social media promotion has always been a core component of the ‘bricks and clicks’ strategy – merging physical stores with an online presence – Facebook is now experimenting with taking this to the next level.

Previously, businesses were limited to just advertising their products and stores on the site, and had to link to external platforms to conclude a sale. Now, the social media giant is allowing a selection of companies to sell products directly through Facebook, reducing the amount of times a consumer is bounced around before completing a transaction.

As the option becomes available for more businesses, it’s likely to change the face of e-commerce and its developing trends.

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