Electronic commerce is widely seen as the sales engine behind any eBusiness. With an ever changing internet and customer base, are tactics and ecommerce solutions really going in the right direction? Who is it all benefiting; the Businesses or the Masses?
eCommerce unfortunately plays an all important part in how products and services are purchased; and it’s on the increase. Consumers are making it ever easy for businesses to target them, and who can really blame a business for exploiting what they can when they are presented with such an easy target?
Consumers are being ruled by their pocket and not their brains, and I’m not talking money. I’m talking about these supposed Smart Phones. Perhaps if we all knew what smart phones were doing to us we wouldn’t consider them so smart after all, although companies and business rub their hands with glee that so many people own one. It is understood, that almost a quarter of adults in the UK own a smart phone, and with a population of over 62.5 million that is a huge audience.
What do we use smart phones for?
Surprisingly, we don’t use our smart phones for calls much anymore. If you consider that, what are we all doing with our phones if we’re not speaking to people?
Social Networks – We’re a lot more obsessed with connecting with our friends and family via social media and networks than we are talking to them now. Impersonal though that sounds; we live in a different culture now and rolling in different times
Music – Most smart phones have a music player on them, and surprisingly we listen to music MORE than we use the phone for calls
Games – There is always a game that goes viral due to recommendations from friends or on Facebook.
Emails and Texts – Emails and texts are around equal in the usage stakes, at least we’re still being sociable in some manner
TV – TV programmes on our phones? With a smart phone you can and we do
But what tops the list is the Internet usage– and this is where eCommerce starts to seemingly take advantage of us. “Smartphones are now being used like a digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’, replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops,” said O2 UK’s general manager of devices David Johnson. Too true.
Using smart phones to innovate
So smart phones are used to shop, book, check in and search the internet. But what I think is easily forgotten is what they leave behind when they leave the site, just like a normal internet browser. But how many of us consider this as a normal web browser if we are completely honest with ourselves? When you leave a website, you leave behind a lot of information regarding your net usage and data for the seller. Cookies store information on your phone much like your home PC on your preferences on products and your surfing habits. Even going as far as leaving behind details of the sites you visited before and after you went on a particular products web site. This might sound like an extreme, but it is automatic code left in cookies and not something that can be fought.
Even scarier to a consumer than that is something known as a preferences database and is a massive innovation when it comes to eCommerce, that is in play this year. It demands a powerful, flexible modelling technique that claims it knows what someone will buy before they make their purchase. The model acquires pre-determined data in a variety of natural and sophisticated preferences and uses this to almost prophesise what will be purchased by that consumer.
eCommmerce designers have their work cut out for them to make this a living breathing eCommerce tactic but consider how useful that would be to a web store. To a certain extent, it’s not so rough on the consumer really. We ask our phones to be smart, so only being shown what we might like to buy isn’t such a bad thing.
So does this mean that eCommerce is going in the right direction? Or is it now becoming exploitative? Looking at the bigger picture, you have to consider the financial growth of such an idea. We still want businesses to make money; if they don’t make money, we don’t have jobs and we don’t make money.
What else will 2012 innovate when it comes to eCommerce? Keep your eyes fixed firmly on your phone browser and watch it work it’s magic.
This is a post by Andras Deak, an occasional guest-blogger and a full-time communication and site architecture consultant. He works for Code23, a UK based web design and development agency building the best eCommerce solutions out there. Andras likes to do all kind of sports in his free time, including football, windsurfing, tennis and skiing.