Last updated: How did the last decade of e-commerce shape the future?

How did the last decade of e-commerce shape the future?


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The last 10 to 15 years of e-commerce featured an array of sensational internet e-commerce solutions.

We’ve all heard plenty of stories about the overly lavish and sometimes crazy ideas that somehow found angel funding. Many of them will serve as conversation fodder for years to come. But the e-commerce innovations of the last decade have provided an exciting platform upon which the next ten years will only improve upon.

The early rounds of e-commerce players were awash with dreams of IPO riches.

Many retail brands would structure their online teams as separate companies, leading to e-commerce solutions often with inconsistent and fractured branding. At this time venture capitalists and angel investors threw heaps of cash into the arena to see which ideas might be the next blockbuster. And plenty did. And many absolutely did not.

One of the early challenges that some still struggle to overcome is how to leverage the e-commerce channel. Many brands kept their online teams in the corner — and simply being online and transacting with customers was considered an accomplishment. This is no longer the case. The last decade has morphed into a world of broadband ubiquity and devices now facilitate constant engagement, maybe disruptively so.

Gold rush or boom: The future of e-commerce across sectors

E-commerce leaders today have put the dotcom boom and bust in their rearview mirror and press on to meet the demands of the marketplace without fear of failure. The “Gold Rush” era of the late 90s and early 2000’s may have stumbled with a reality check in the early days. While skeptics and sideliners who missed out on the enthusiasm of those early days might have enjoyed the “we told you so” moment, others kept at it and moved on. Mantras like “fail fast” are embraced today as lessons on how to cost-effectively learn, innovate and evolve.

The smart brands (retail and B2B alike) are adopting cohesive and consistent engagement across all channels. Internet usage patterns have shifted massively in due to smart phones and tablet devices. Evening hours of social media perusal and Netflix movies have replaced the workplace broadband usage during the lunch hour or start of the day. Brand engagement is now about reaching the customer with a consistent message across all channels and devices — The consumers shopping online late at night are also those who chose to visit brick and mortar showrooms on the weekends. Consistency is paramount.

As consumers, we engage with a brand in it’s entirety, regardless of channel. We don’t consider ourselves e-commerce, tablet or smartphone customers only. We don’t think of the experience as being tethered to a particular channel, and smart brands no longer view or treat their customers in this way.

The evolution has gone from e-commerce, to multi-channel, to omni-channel keeping authors of buzzwords quite busy. What is key here is how we’re getting back to the basics: the customer. A single person. A single message.

Where we have seen silos of customer data in the past, or fiefdoms of ownership within an organization, we’re now seeing transparence and sharing leading to a cohesive view of the customer. Marketing, IT and customer service teams are now on the same page, and capturing and sharing customer insights across teams is beginning to reveal the full view of a customer.

These shifts are leading to a much stronger chance at effective brand engagement. “Big Data” may soon be possible for more and more brands to incorporate. Personalization and recommendations will no longer require a raft of statisticians and data miners. Cloud based, SaaS solutions will continue to raise their game, further reducing the barriers to entry for many solutions that will facilitate “business” and remove some of the technical hurdles that are not so easy to overcome.

Companies will continue to find what the new landscape mandates. Old models tied to brick and mortar will have to shift. No longer will a store be “just a store,” but instead a full distribution and engagement point. Here too, stores will have to become nimble as pop-up models bring brand engagement to where the customer wants to be. And, fundamental to all of this is placing the customer experience at the top of the values list. The next decade is a blank canvas. Regardless of device or technology we end up with in years to come, bring a consistent brand experience to the customer.

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