When you go onto the internet and search for the top ecommerce trends or the strongest ecommerce trends, you’ll find a whole batch of results from multiple authors all saying different things. You can simply read just two are three articles and you’ll come to realize that no authors agree on the same things as the biggest trends. There may be some similarities or common ground that authors listed but no list is an exact match.
So then, what are the top trends? No one can say really as one trend serves one purpose and another trend does something else. The three trends listed below are simply my take on the scene and what I see as being the top three and how they relate to one another.
- Going Mobile
- Mobile Advertisement
- Enhancing Customer Experience
Going Mobile: many companies now are creating apps to offer to their customers and creating a mobile app is no longer an after thought. The big shift from website to apps comes from the fact that many people now own smartphones, the rate much higher than it was in 2012, and they spend most of their time on their devices. Going mobile offers customers the same content as it would on a companies website but on the go. Unlike websites where you’ll need internet connection, downloading an app makes it possible for consumers to check in anywhere with their mobile devices.
Mobile Advertisement: of course, if companies are going mobile and users are downloading apps, wouldn’t it make sense for mobile advertisement for optimum opportunities? Larger companies understand that going mobile is getting big so they jump at the chance to advertise their products and services on mobile.
Enhancing Customer Experience: why is enhancing customer experience such an important thing? Simple, you want them to come back. Merchants should not only focus on making a customer’s experience valuable in stores but online as well. All Internet users have one thing in common, and that is a short attention span. When they go on a website and it takes to long to load or has to many things going on, they’re going to leave that website and going find something else. This ties up with going mobile. Companies want to boost a customer’s experience through quality content by not only making an app simple and easy to use, but engaging to the user as well. They offer abilities to users in mobile that at times, you can’t do in stores. Examples can be saving favorite items, checking out reviews, deals and coupons, customization, and many more.
The three trends listed above aren’t simply just trends of ecommerce but trends that tie in together to make one marketable strategy. They start out as different things but if one company uses them together, they’ll weave in with one another and work together like glue to help out merchants and users as well.
Enterprise Portals: serves as a company’s portal for employees, customers, partners, and the general public to obtain information on a company’s date.
- SteelCase is an enterprise portal for a more capable way of customer relationship management.
- They gain revenue by selling their products and services to users in different countries, offering software in a variety of languages.
General Purpose Portals: a gateway for users to connect to the web and later used as a default site.
- Netscape is a computer service company that offers it’s user access to web browsing.
- Netscape gains its revenue by also selling software.
Vertical Market Portals: a narrow portal that provides information on a specific industry. These portals would be seen as a business-to-business community.
- ConvertFiles.com is an example of a vertical portal. It offers and converting direction to change one file into another. (ex. pdf to word or word to pdf)
- Gains revenue from user count as it offers users to sell their conversion tools as well.
Affinity Groups: groups that share a common interest or goal.
- Fanfiction.net is where fans of all kinds can come in and write fictional pieces of their bases to share with others…..
- Web advertisement is their source of revenue
Focused Content Groups: similar to affinity groups and vertical markets where it focuses on a specific group, focused content groups center around a certain subject.
- Gamehouse.com is a gaming site that garners revenue through subscription and web advertisement.
Social Networks and Online Communities
General Communities: is an online network that allows for its users to socialize and create relationships by sharing content with other users.
- Flickr and We Heart it for example – it’s an online network that’s similar to Instagram as it’s a picture hosting website.
- Like most social networks, the sites generate revenue by web advertisement.
Practice Networks: Unlike general communities where its focus is for users to build relationships, practice networks are a professional or formal form of online networking where users that specialize in skills such as music, arts, and business come to meet.
- Xing,offers users the ability to share career profiles, event creations, discussion forums, and much more.
- Once again, Xing uses advertisement as their revenue gain. They place ads around the site or mobile advertisement on their app.
Interest Based Communities: sites that fall into this categories are anything that revolve around common interests (ex. cooking, gaming, music, lifestyle – any of these interests).
- Foodspotting is a wonderful website where hardcore foodies can find and share great restaurants.
- Foodspotting rakes in its revenue based on the amount of fans. Foodspotting has a Facebook, a twitter, Google+, and a mobile app available on itunes and depending on how many fans they have to follow each platform of theirs, that’s how they gain more value.
Affinity Communities: this is a community based on geographic or demographic information.
- CafeMom for example, it’s a ad-supported site cater to women, specifically mothers or soon to be moms. It’s a place for parents to share parenting information in the form of blogs or discussion forums.
- As the description says, and ad-supporting site, it collects revenue from advertisement.
Sponsored Communities: a network that is created by an organization, such as the government or non-profit, to pursue multiple purposes.
- The Carter Center is an example of a nonprofit network. It’s purpose is to improve people’s lives by resolving conflicts, preventing diseases, and helping with mental healthcare.
- Like many non-profit organizations, it collects revenue by donations.
When you research what the current trends of e-commerce are, you’ll come to find a long variety of different trends listed. Things like, going global but staying local, better delivery, high availability – the list goes on. But out of the longs lists and different trends you’ll find in your search, which are the top ones?
After doing some research, reading multiple articles, and then comparing the individual trends lists with one another, there are three trends that were most common in these articles.
Top 3 Current trends
- Use of mobile devices: more companies are building websites that can be used on mobile devices. The amount of people with smart phones is growing and will only continue to grow. There are plenty of consumers that do their shopping on their devices because of it’s ease of use and options available.
- Personalization: They want their customers to feel special. By offering them deals, personalized ads, and suggested items, it gives the feel that ‘oh, they’re paying attention.’ Stores with an actual presences already give the opportunity for shoppers to customize and modify what they want, but having that availability online would be even better.
- Big Data: the collection of large amounts of data allows for companies to learn more about their customers so they can them market their items or personalized to fit a customers interest.
Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 6
Why shouldn’t we collect internet taxes from online retailers? After all, collecting those taxes means raking in at least $23 billion that we were losing before. And imagine what those $23 billion can go towards? Regardless of how much money the government could gain from collecting internet taxes, there are more cons than there are pros.
First off, the act of imposing the collection of internet taxes will only cause for retailers to lose customers. Though there are online retailers that are required to now collect sales taxes from their customers, there are even more that don’t. For that reason, if a consumer goes to a certain website and find that they need to pay sales tax, then they can simply leave the website, go to different retailer who doesn’t charge sales tax, and make their purchase there.
The reason above ties in with this – if a company sales go down, so do their stocks. The act of collecting sales tax will cause for customers to either make their purchases elsewhere or buy less from you. Amazon for example: Amazon shoppers have to pay sales tax and the larger their purchase, the higher the sales tax. Studies shows that after this act was imposed, buyers who once did most if not all their shopping online, shopped less – choosing to buy their merchandise elsewhere which causes the firm to be in harm more than anyone else.
Even with collecting internet taxes, there are still loopholes that consumers can find to avoid paying sales taxes. It makes you think, “Then really, what is the purpose of the act of collecting taxes?” Companies lose customers, drop sales, and their stock prices go down. After doing all this research, there has yet to be any findings that highlight or specify why collecting sales taxes from online retailers to be so useful.
Resource links: 1, 2, 3
The debate on whether to collect e-commerce taxes have gone back since the early 90’s and up until now, the decision on whether to do it or not is still being argued. The whole argument stems from the fact that sales tax isn’t collected from online retailers because back in 1992, the Supreme Court had made a decision to prohibit states from collecting taxes from online retailers, the decision being decided because collecting sales tax from every state would be too difficult. And this of course, was unfair to those with brick and mortar businesses, which where the argument starts – what makes online retailing so special that taxes don’t need to be collected?
States are finding loopholes on how to even out the playing field between retailers of physical stores and online because the Unites States is losing an estimated amount of $23 billion a year in uncollected online sales taxes, money that could be used for many things. There is something called the ‘Amazon Law’ that some states are implementing while some states, have yet to jump on board. According to Bloomberg.com, a total of 20 states now have decided to levy an Amazon tax on online goods sold, if you have a physical presence retailer or if you pay marketers to send traffic to your site, you would fall into this category. To put it simply, if you’re an Amazon shopper, depending on which state you live in, you’ll have to pay a sales tax for your purchase now.
On the flip side, the argument of not wanting to collect taxes from online retailers is because it can become a rather large threat to future business. Shoppers will drop their usual spending habits for that reason. And if sales go down, then the company’s stock prices goes down as well.
After doing some research and reading numerous articles of this whole ordeal, I can’t say that I have a set decision on which to do. As a consumer who does do a lot of shopping online, I would rather forgo the collection of taxes but from a business point of view, then I’d support it. Whether having the physical presence or not, retailers should be fair. But if the government were to begin collecting taxes all around, they should do so it in a simple yet reliable method.
Links to read more: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5