The gap between consumers, brands and e-commerce is bigger than you think

No two e-commerce platforms are created equal and in a connected world, that could either mean more opportunities or woes for solution providers.

In the latest CloudCraze report surveying 340 marketing and IT professionals, it found that despite brands and corporations wanting to invest in commerce portals, cost, site flexibility and efficiency continue to hold them back.

According to the report:

  • E-commerce is costly, with 31% of brands reporting they spent USD2 million for their current portals
  • 44% of surveyed companies claimed their platform took over a year to launch
  • It is incredibly difficult to keep up with the pace of both customer and brand’s evolving needs, among others

The study cites that even though brands are spending big money on building their sites, the platform still lacked critical features and functionalities. For many companies, this constant investment in a portal doesn’t immediately translate into return of investment (ROI).

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So where’s the balance?

No where. It’s a matter of striking up a conversation regarding the elephant in the room and creating solutions all parties — customers, brands and solution providers — can benefit from.

For brands, driving revenue is utmost priority; and therefore, revenue equates to the success of digital platforms. For marketers and IT professionals, having the capabilities to interact, monitor and react to customers in real-time is the most vital component they seek in digital ventures.

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What’s the silver lining?

That most respondents to the survey are in the same predicament, which means the e-commerce space’s gap isn’t that wide among competitors. However, there are a few things to bear in mind when it comes to tackling out challenges e-commerce platforms are collectively facing:

Always keep user’s experience in mind

Content is not just king, but how quickly, accurately and adaptable it is is vital to retaining customers. Most brands cite that the inability or lack of efficiency in keeping up with customers and their company’s needs pose a major challenge as to hitting their target with digital platforms. Most online platforms are selling to customers and the age old idiom still stands: the customer is always right. If you can’t reach them in time, how are you to position your products or services?

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Giving buying control back to buyers

Of course, with any online merchant platform, sales is a major component, if not the most important. Retaining customers is key to sustaining the business. Across the surveyors, customer acquisition remains the most concerned segment of running an e-commerce platform among brands, followed by customer retention.

Currently, purchasing options in today’s business-to-consumer (B2C) space win out business-to-business, mainly because of fixed and custom pricing issues. The survey found that almost three-quarter of brands consider a self-service ordering service an added advantage for fluidity in operation; however, self-service ordering is also costly and requires a nod of approval from financial institutes — ridding out the smaller boys in the field.

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And surprisingly, despite the advantage this form of payment provide to brands, only 54% of all online platforms offer this service. For brands looking to make waves and stay in the e-commerce game longer than the lot, more than just a wide selection, it is about user’s experience. While profitability for digital platforms are slow to measure based on capital investment, the fact of the matter is customer’s shopping behaviours are changing and shifting to a more convenient format, which means mobile.

By streamlining order processes and fine tuning the technology that fuels the engine, some of these brands may have a fighting chance to compete and possibly win out in the year when commerce becomes one global network.

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