As Business Development Manager for LeaseWeb, I regularly visit e-commerce events like Webwinkel Vakdagen and E-commerce Paris. These types of events are very important to me. Not just because of possible leads, but also because these gatherings allow you to touch base, so to speak. It gives me a chance to hear what people talk about and what’s keeping them busy. I also get to see where the e-tailing industry as a whole is headed. Based on this, I thought it would be nice to share some of my observations with you:
- Big data requires good infrastructure!
I deliberately added an exclamation mark, because this insight was my number one conclusion: people are creating and transferring more and more data every day, often without considering the consequences or prerequisites. The bandwidth that web shops use increases on a daily basis. This is logical, as webmasters constantly need to find ways to attract and keep the visitor’s attention. Some webmasters add video streams (V-commerce). Others create specialized communities or develop additional online marketing applications. The list of possibilities goes on and on. All these online features can generate a large amount of bits and bytes. Moreover, every web shop, portal or community that wants to be taken seriously has to be online 24x7x365. The result needs no explanation, I guess: the required bandwidth is enormous.
I talked to entrepreneurs that are fully aware of this, and still try to manage it all themselves. That’s obviously not a problem if you have the required resources and a solid, 100% tried and tested infrastructure. But most entrepreneurs don’t, which often results in a meager uptime of 95%. This percentage might look OK at first sight, but given the fact that online business hours are 24x7x365, the 5% down time accounts for more than 2.5 weeks of customers not being able to access your site. And we’re not even talking about the time and money it will cost to recover lost data…
- Your grandmother’s opinion counts too
Social media is all about user generated content and interacting directly with other people, without anyone editing your text, or changing your opinion or testimonial. E-commerce entrepreneurs, both in B2B and B2C, need to be fully aware of this. People will more than ever freely speak their minds through the many word-of-mouth channels that have emerged. And it’s no longer the just the early adopters who review your services; even grandmothers now have access to social media. If you get positive feedback online, people will buy. If you get negative feedback, your reputation will gradually decrease. And a bad reputation equals no sale!
- Online payment becomes more flexible
I have seen e-commerce related initiatives emerge whose sole purpose is to make life easier. For example: secure online payment. Nothing new so far, but now we also see applications that allow you to pay online after delivery. Yet another threshold crossed, and a very interesting one at that. I’ve also noticed that ‘brick to click’ (i.e. buy online instead of in a physical ‘brick and mortar’ store) is now changing to ‘buy with a click, pick up at the brick’. In this case the brick is a pick-up site or showroom, preferably offering the visitor a cross-media experience aimed at establishing customer loyalty. These warehouses are not necessarily located in the center of a town; they can also be found in a suburb, where rent is low and parking space is free.
Remember: Technology equals opportunity
As always: technology is responsible for the emergence of new companies, initiatives and strategies almost every day. Just think of online TV, Spotify, social gaming and mobile commerce, to name just a few. It’s a trial and error process, that’s for sure. Part of surviving the trial is making sure you have the capacity and resources to cope with a sudden boost in your activities. This means enough servers, bandwidth and network reliability. Combine this with the guts to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ and you just might be the next founder of Amazon or Ebay!