No matter how hard we’re hit in these times of austerity and economic slowdown, ecommerce seems to be the tonic for what ails us. Our hard-earned dollars are increasingly going into virtual tills, last year alone we clicked our way to $166bn of online sales, with analysts predicting further growth this year.
Because we love the fact that we can shop wherever, whenever, and however we want to. Thanks to the growth of mcommerce, all you need these days is a smartphone and you can screen-tap your way to the best deals of the day. You don’t even need your payment card anymore, just a simple wave of your phone will do. Even stores now have in-store kiosks so you can shop online, whilst in the shop itself.
This growth of course means that there’s no face-to-face, personal interaction at all between retailer and customer. And this has naturally turned the world of marketing and advertising upside down.
Because now, we don’t ask the sales assistant for their advice and opinion on a particular product. We upload details of our potential purchase and ask our friends on social networks. Retailers are realising that our peers are the greatest influencers on whether we buy.
There’s no doubt social media will become much more tightly integrated with ecommerce and the whole shopping experience, because we still want a two-way conversation with the brands we buy from, albeit a virtual one.
The balance of ‘power’ is now in our hands. With one comment or click, we can give a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, and the retailers can do nothing to stop it. They want us onside, as loyal shoppers passionate about their brand. They encourage us, with ‘tweet this’ and ‘post that’ prompts. Because if we love something, there’s a good chance we can convince our friends to as well. And so the ripple effect begins, just like a Cultural Movement.
But it’s not enough just to give us straight forward, simple transactions. Because face-to-face interaction has gone, personal content is the new way for online shoppers to get the ‘personal’ touch. Sites will increasingly give us personalised recommendations, tailored content, even exclusive offers and promotions available to ‘fans’ only, giving us a more fulfilling ecommerce experience, that feeling of “wow, that brand really knows and values me.”
Because this is what we want, after all. When it comes down to it, all we’ve ever wanted is to feel like a valued, prized customer. Who would have thought that us moving away from traditional, face-to-face store shopping would finally give us what we’ve been craving? Could this be the beginning of the end for stores?