E-commerce has changed the way modern consumers approach the buying process. What do companies need to know to get the most out of these trends?


The face of the retail industry has changed for both consumers and businesses, with online interactions holding just as much value as those conducted in store.

In fact, some of the largest retailers to emerge in recent years discovered they don’t need a physical store at all to find success in the industry. Online store Amazon has been the poster child for this movement, with its only physical presence being the mammoth warehouses that hold its stock.

According to the company’s financial reports, the e-commerce giant recorded sales of over US$22 billion in Q1 of this year alone. For businesses still on the fence about the value of these methods, this should come as a wake up call.

Internet defines consumer behaviour

It should come as no surprise to businesses that the consumer journey has changed dramatically thanks to e-commerce. From Facebook advertisements to online purchases, every step of the process has been disrupted by digital influences in some way.

This has been further changed by the rise in mobile device use, allowing the e-commerce journey to begin anywhere at any time, as long as there is access to an internet connection.

In 2013, Google discovered that more than half of all consumer journeys began on mobile devices. While 55 per cent of these searches were conducted in the home, almost a third (31 per cent) of all mobile research was undertaken in a store, meaning e-commerce is often used to augment the physical part of the buying process.

What is important to the digital consumer?

McKinsey & Company found that modern consumers who engage in e-commerce have their own unique characteristics that online retailers need to be aware of, so they aren’t outshone by their competitors.

The firm concluded that at its core, e-commerce is about the relationship between technology and people, as both are integral on either side of the process.

Retailers need technology to reach their audience and people to interact with customers when they make their way into the store. On the other hand, consumers depend on technology to find products and stores and people to enhance the experience.

McKinsey & Company advises that organisations should be aware of the demands and desires the modern consumer brings to the e-commerce process and create sales procedures around them. This includes being aware of how these people find and engage with new stores and what they like about the digital process.

Mobile-friendly websites and an open social media presence are two of the most effective ways companies can achieve this.

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