Human beings, are by nature, social creatures. We live as families, we create groups and associations, but until very recently, one of the things that we did largely as individuals, was to be consumers.
The emergence of the Internet has changed the way that we live.The proliferation of the Internet is far more disruptive than we appear to appreciate. There are very few industries that have not been affected. The music industry, was perhaps among the first to feel the effects as sound waves are easily converted to digital format. The movie industry is undergoing shifts in distribution, and publishing media, such as books and news are in all in paradigm changes.
E-Commerce, although still in its infancy is also be expected to undergo accelerated changes within the next few years.
Almost every business now have a websites, and some portion of interactions or transactions are done online. The profileration of the social networks, now gives us the easy ability to share. The attitudes of consumers have changed, and we are now empowered to create conversation, and share experiences in an instant. Producers and retailers are reacting to this change.
An important report , published by Forrester in 2010, showed how the course is changing.
Just 3 short years ago, only 33% of American consumers shopped online. Today, that number has grown to 66%. Comparatively, over 45% of the population visit social networks, which is up from 15% in 2007. It appears that convenience offered by the two platforms of networking and business interactions are converging quickly, and will revolutionise the business industry in much the same way as retail was changed.
Brands are racing to create a social presence on the hottest social and mobile networks. Almost every major brand can be found on a social network. The initial goals, are to increase brand awareness and build community, but at the same time consumers are also connected.
It is now easier to develop a business network that includes the consumer. A more developed environment with closer and almost immediate contact, provides easier access to customer profiles. Businesses can now become more aware of customer preferences. This can be seen to be of greater benefit to consumers, as they are offered what they prefer.
When connected consumers are asked why they connect with brands in social networks, among the top reasons, given is access to special offers and promotions. This should not be surprising, as coupons, promotions and sales are a natural part of the commerce ecosystem. The difference, is that connected consumers do no respond to any offer. Perhaps because of the innate social nature, they want to feel that they are part of something, bigger and the social component of commerce emerges in Group buying.
The lower cost of doing business on the web benefits both the consumer and the business. Consumers are more confident of the purchases, as they are in direct contact with the businesses while having immediate access to peer reviews. The overhead costs of operation are reduced, as much of the transaction process is automated.
In addition to closer direct contact with brands, consumers are now more comfortable with making online purchases as dramatic improvements have been made in the area of security technology.
Do you think E-Commerce will undergo accelerated changes within the next few years? Share your thoughts with us below.