Successful eCommerce can have a significant and positive impact on small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), but many are not aware of how they can make it work for them, according to Frost & Sullivan.
eCommerce is defined as the buying and selling of goods and services, or the transferring of funds or data, over an electronic network – primarily the internet.
Frost & Sullivan says eCommerce has become the primary customer engagement channel.
Customers now invariably investigate sellers and products online before buying by visiting their web sites and checking out other customers' experiences on social media, the analysts say.
eCommerce has also become a popular customer sales channel. It dominates the market for buying ‘soft’ virtualised products and services, or ‘X anything as service’ that are deliverable online.
All companies are faced with adapting to eCommerce and keeping up with rapidly changing developments, however SMBs are particularly challenged what with their limited resources, Frost & Sullivan says.
There are a number of important eCommerce trends impacting SMBs, according to Frost & Sullivan.
Rising consumer brand and service expectations
Consumers realise they are highly valued in today's slowly growing economy, and unsurprisingly have higher expectations for brands - they want to feel they are getting good value and are being treated well, Frost & Sullivan says.
Furthermore, consumers expect immediate responses to their issues. They also must feel comfortable with making transactions through eCommerce companies and sites to the same degree (if not higher) as they have with bricks and mortar retailers, says Frost & Sullivan.
Shorter business cycles
Product and service innovations are becoming ‘transient advantages’ as they are being copied quickly by competitors. As a result, customer knowledge and service are prime marketplace differentiators, Frost & Sullivan says.
Going mobile for engagement but not for product purchases
Mobile devices have become the dominant communications tool.
Frost & Sullivan research forecasts that the number consumer wireless subscribers will increase rapidly while the number of consumer voice landline subscribers declines.
However, further research indicates that consumers are using mobile devices for engagement, and their desktops and laptops for actual purchases.