The History of Online Shopping

The internet is a fantastic and useful tool. With a click of our mouse we can read today’s news, play an online game and if we wish shop to our hearts content. But when did it all start? What is the history of Online Shopping and what does it mean to shop online?

Online shopping is the process a customer takes to purchase a service or product over the internet. In other words a consumer may at his or her leisure buy from the comfort of their own home products from an online store. This concept was first demonstrated before the World Wide Web was in use with real time transaction processed from a domestic television! The technology used was called Videotext and was first demonstrated in 1979 by M. Aldrick who designed and installed systems in the UK. By 1990 T. Berners-Lee created the first WWW server and browser, and by 1995 Amazon expanded its online shopping experiences.

The history of Online Shopping is amazing. Gone are the days of waiting in traffic and working our way through overcrowded stores. All we need is a computer, bank account, debit or credit card and voila freedom! From books, to cosmetics, clothing and accessories to name a few, shopping online is the answer to the 21st century. Simply find the website that offers the objects of your desire, price and delivery terms and in a matter of a few days your purchase is at your door. The advantages and convenience are obviously predictable as we are offered a broader selection, competitive pricing and a greater access to information in regards to our purchase. Online stores are usually available on a 24 hour basis, and permit consumers to shop at their leisure without any traveling and outside regular business hours!

Another point to take into consideration is that when the internet was first conceived it was not with the ideal that it would change the way we shop. On the contrary the web was created as a tool for communicating, which in time let to the convenience of shopping virtually. The history of online shopping by itself symbolizes the change in our society and has by now become a service used by business and regular shopper all over the world.

Shopping online is easy, fun and secure and has for many taken the place of the Saturday afternoon window shopping at the mail. Still considered as a fairly recent phenomenon, online shopping has without a doubt made the life of countless consumers easier and more convenient. May it be for a home loan, buying car or ordering your weekly groceries, the web has forever changed our outlook on shopping.

The history of online shopping shows to all that a good idea, great presentation, and a desire to offer the best to your customers can make a dream come true. Now considered tried and true, it will be interesting in the next 20 years or so to see where the History on online shopping will take us!

Impact of the History of Ecommerce on Small Businesses

The healthy financial standing of the small and medium business has, by far, been shaped by the history of e commerce. Considering the fact that SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) are mostly a one-man show or a family affair, e commerce has paved the way for market penetration, financial advancement and the general e commerce business of small enterprises. It has given them a competitive edge over their larger counterparts by offering them a place in the 24 hour 7 days a week e commerce. Small businesses make up a majority of businesses in the developed nations as well as in the whole wide world and it would be to the detriment of e commerce to ignore their contribution to the electronic transactions.

Their products and services are diverse and of good quality. However, since sales promotions, campaigns and advertisements would be too expensive, then the cheap, convenient, and readily available e commerce comes in. It is only a click away and you get to link up with the global market where you showcase your products then sit back and watch as orders flood in. as a small business operator, once you log in to an e commerce service provider, you get linked up with online product advertisers and promoters who work on a commission basis. These are the companies or individuals who convince the global market out there electronically to buy your products, online of course.

The history of e commerce has worked to create the moderating effects in family businesses where the small businesses are given an equal chance with the big companies to showcase their products. The history of e commerce is a kind of a fulcrum that seeks to bring at par all businesses giving them equal opportunity to tap into the potential global market. E commerce offers the SMEs the opportunities of market exploration in order to enable them strategize on their next financial step. Advice is offered freely by different e commerce website. E commerce avails strategy, moderating effects and orientation top successful small businesses.

Cheap and operational websites are made easily available. In developed nations, people are quitting well paying white and blue-collar jobs to venture into e commerce. No one has ever looked back. Bearing in mind that the world has over 2 billion spenders who are internet users and who can be convinced into buying an online products, then e commerce is the link. It caters to the promotional and advertisement of products from people f all walks of life. Software products, travel agencies and other small business are connected into the larger global market of e commerce. Transactions are instantaneous, efficient and the booming cell phone consumption is a plus for the small businesses.

Certain e commerce software can be downloaded to cell phones. Bearing in mind the more than four billion cell phones users we have in the world today, the small businesses are keen on tapping in to this unexploited potential. Electronic message will reach the customer and immediately, an order placed. Such e commerce marketing strategies are changing lives positively as well as improving the economic health of nations. So far, the existence of the small business, since the time of industrial revolution and cottage industries, has been positively affected by the consistent growth in the history of e commerce.

Note that with emergence of e commerce the running of small businesses was hugely changed with the history of e commerce’s unending evolution, the small businesses have kept evolving too and changing small businesses for the better.

Emerging Trends in eCommerce

eCommerce is a reality of modern day shopping experience. In today’s world, eCommerce is no longer a luxury for retailers but a necessity. It is not a “nice to have” but a “must have”. Well, for most, this is obvious, and for the rest, they’re still in 20th century.

Customer expectations while shopping online are higher than ever. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for savvy retailers to drive competitive advantage. To be a market leader, companies need to adapt emerging trends in eCommerce to ensure a superior online customer experience.

So what are the important steps for retailers to provide an excellent shopping experience to today’s consumers who use multiple devices and visit numerous online sites when shopping?

1. Browsing is Fun

Browsing should be compelling and functional on all browsers and devices. Your consumers are no longer using one device or browser for shopping. Potential growth of mobile/iPad in retail eCommerce is enormous. With the current projections, mobile/iPad will exceed desktop numbers in the next couple of years. Consumers expect the site to work seamlessly whether they are browsing through desktop or an iPad or a mobile. Things to look out for – are there features that will not work on an old browser or the latest iPad? Does the shopping interface work on smartphone screens? Responsive websites is the key.

Test the online customer experience using internal staff and mystery shoppers. These test shoppers should be able to intuitively browse products through your website, transact, checkout and process payments without any help. For some latest platforms, like iOS 6 and Android 4.2 Jellybean, advanced features can be enable like using the camera for barcode scanning to doing a virtual makeover for customers in store.

2. Streamlined Omni-channel shopping experience

Online shoppers have very little patience for inconsistencies between multiple channels. Not only browsers but also multiple channels of shopping need to be integrated. A product added in a basket at home is expected to be found in the basket when you go to the store or if you call up the call center. Similarly, buyers should be able to return goods purchased online to a physical store. It is vital that businesses understand the importance of providing a superior omni-channel experience.

3. Go Social

Your customers are all over on social websites – Facebook has a user base of 1.15 billion and amazing 699 million daily active users. This is a huge opportunity for retailers to take advantage of. Using Facebook Connect, various sets of data can be collected about users’ daily activity and that can be utilized to approach targeted customers, e.g. by offering promotion on most liked or most commented products, or recommending the same products when these consumers your store. Other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, Groupon etc are fast catching up and offer great insights to savvy retailers.

4. Compelling Marketing Campaign

To effectively reach consumers, retailers need to develop compelling marketing messages that resonate in physical and digital forms. “Pull browsing” where customers ask for the information is rapidly changing to “push browsing”, where customers are shown information relevant to them based on their browsing or purchase history. For example, a consumer interested in toys is shown ads from various toy retailers whenever he is browsing on Internet. Marketing emails, an effective tool will soon turn into relevant SMS notifications when a customer is standing outside the physical store.

5. Content is the King

Keep your website relevant and fresh. Frequent users represent a major share of your sales, and customers will return if they know they are not looking into outdated information. Including blogs and social media and keeping all communication channels active is the key. This will enhance customer engagement and people will be able to identify with you and your products. Building your brand this way will eventually have positive impact on conversion of shopping customers (who are just surfing/comparing) to buying customers (who actually buy from your store).

6. Personalization

Combining online and offline data from various channels whether structured or unstructured provides those hidden consumer patterns which were never thought of. These patterns can be used to present personalized recommendations and content to the online customers. Most online shoppers warmly welcome product suggestions based on their personal preferences, purchases or browsing history. However a few prefer to remain anonymous and do not want their information to be stored. In either case, consumer information needs to be handled with discretion and be sufficiently secured.

Conclusion

There is a definite shift in consumer attitude and satisfaction when it comes to the Internet – online buying has become part of mainstream shopping and is here to stay. The challenge for companies now centers on providing the best customer experience and ensuring that user experience is seamlessly integrated across all channels consumer is exposed to. Consumers want to easily research and compare products, engage in a discussion where required, and have complete clarity when it comes to the total purchase cost as well as flexible delivery and return policies. The challenge is not only to ensure that shopping applications work on each device, but also that they make the best use of the features of each platform.

In the end, you win if the consumer wins.

Is your company ready for these trends in eCommerce that define the present and future of eCommerce?