Posts Tagged ‘Online shopping’

Mahima Narula on the E-Commerce Revolution

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Mahima Narula Icon ImageAs more and more people shop online, industry experts say that e-Commerce has the potential to eclipse traditional retail shopping. And with the increasing number of mobile sales transactions, this transition could happen sooner than we think.

Launched in 1999 as an exclusive online purveyor of floral arrangements and gifts, Flora2000 is a particularly good example of an e-commerce company that’s successfully taken traditional gift giving into the 21st century. Over the years, the brand has expanded its network across the world and presently has the largest network of vendors with delivery in over 190 countries. According to Mahima Narula, business head at Flora2000, nearly 170 million people live outside the countries in which they were born, an important—and lucrative—market for companies like Flora2000. Many of their customers, for example, regularly purchase products to be delivered to friends and loved ones back home.

E-commerce companies are especially adept at serving business travelers, whether they are flying around the globe or driving from one town to the next. With just a couple of keystrokes, a department head can arrange for his or her entire team to receive a “job well done” gift from any number of websites. Similarly, online retailers like Red Envelope and Birchbox make it easy to shop for just about anyone on your list, from a loved one to a business associate. Online dating companies, like Zoosk, offer easy-to-use apps while many social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are now serving as a backdrop for those seeking love.  “Tweetup” or Twitter meet-ups, occur between people who meet at an event organized through Twitter.

Social media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook, offers another opportunity for e-Commerce companies to increase their customer base. Creating an online presence opens up tremendous opportunities for marketing campaigns like product launches and contests. Social media also increases a company’s visibility. And the content potential is infinite.

Another critical piece is research. It is essential for e-Commerce companies to reach out to two important groups: customers who’ve already purchased products (“retention”) and those they’re trying to attract (“acquisition”). To keep the customers they have, companies maintain communications by regularly sending out newsletters, implementing loyalty programs, and staying engaged through social media. To acquire more customers, the companies must constantly seek ways improve their SEO rankings, collaborate with various affiliates, use pay-per-click ads if appropriate, and maintain active public relations campaigns.

And it’s always good business to keep an eye on what other online purveyors are doing to snag more business. Amazon’s warehouse building spree and Ebay’s social pop-up store in London are good examples of e-Commerce companies embracing portions of traditional retail models in order to increase revenue.

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High Gas Prices Sending Americans to Their Computers to Shop

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Online shopping grew at its fastest pace in nearly four years in April as soaring fuel prices sent Americans to their computers instead of the malls to shop on the internet instead, according to MasterCard Advisors.  Consumers spent $13.8 billion online in April, a 19.2 per cent increase over the same month of 2010, according to the SpendingPulse survey, which is based on spending using MasterCard credit cards and estimates of other forms of payment.  Mike Berry, MasterCard Advisors’ director of industry research, said “We’ve started to see demand distortion, with people pumping fewer gallons and driving less.”  Amazon.com reported sales had increased as much as 45 percent, while eBay reported a 10 percent rise.

In general, April sales trends are mixed, with some sectors showing continued year-over-year growth.  Others are flat or even negative, according to the report, which tracks sales across all payment methods.  A late Easter, which shifted some sales from March into April, may skew interpretations, although data suggests that high gasoline prices are impacting consumer behavior.  April marked the sixth straight month of double-digit growth in online shopping, according to Berry.  Online shopping has risen from 0.6 percent of all retail spending at the end of 1999 to 4.3 percent in the 4th quarter of last year, according to Census Bureau statistics.

We can expect consumers to make fewer shopping trips,  especially on weekends, and this may contribute to an ever stronger growth for e-commerce,” says Michael McNamara, vice president, research and analysis for SpendingPulse.  Several retail sectors saw online sale increases during April.  For example, online shoe sales rose 20 percent compared with 2010.  Women’s clothing rose by 15 percent, the second consecutive month to record that large an increase.  By comparison, clothing sales in actual stores rose 10.4 percent.  Consumer electronics purchased online grew 9.1 percent, for the eighth consecutive month of growth.  Electronics and appliance sales, including brick and mortar purchases, declined 1.8 percent in April.

Referring to continually rising gas prices, McNamara said,  “Our experience over the past several years suggests that this can have a variety of repercussions for retail.  First, we can expect consumers to make fewer shopping trips, especially on weekends, and this may contribute to an ever stronger growth for e-commerce.  Fewer miles driven also reduces demand for auto parts and services.  Finally, casual dining restaurants can be negatively impacted.”

Surprisingly demand also hasn’t yet been hurt by the sharp rise in gasoline prices brought on by the uprisings across the Middle East, according to Berry.  Still, he warns the trend bears watching as he expects that spending levels are only just starting to see the impact of soaring gas prices.  “We haven’t reached that point yet, but it is something to keep an eye on,” he said.