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E-commerce: Mobile, analytical, personal

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 20, 2014 06:00 AM

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E-commerce companies are grappling with a changing landscape, trying to keep pace with consumer behavior patterns that are shifting rapidly. At the forefront of this challenge is the need to provide a quality customer experience with seamless design across all platforms and devices. Despite an overwhelming preference on the part of surveyed consumers to shop via their computers, mobile traffic accounted for almost 40% of all online traffic on Black Friday and mobile sales reached 21.8% of total online sales - that’s an increase of nearly 43% from 2012. In short, with mobile internet usage on the rise and predicted to soon surpass desktop internet usage, online retailers not putting an emphasis on the mobile shopping experience they’re providing will very quickly find themselves lagging behind their competitors.

Consumer expectations have evolved along with their changing habits. Shoppers expect an increased level of personalization in the form of customized content on the websites where they shop, tailored to their profile and history. Research indicates that consumers are willing to trade personal info for heightened customization.

"Today's consumer has been conditioned by multiple industries — from healthcare to travel — to expect personalized interactions across different channels," said Jill Puleri, IBM Retail Global Industry Leader. "IBM's study shows consumers are willing to share details about themselves, particularly if they receive a personalized experience in return.”

Businesses now have access to an unprecedented amount of data about their consumers. The ability to harness that data and utilize it to power increasingly personalized shopping experiences will be an integral component of any future success enjoyed by online retailers. These experiences and the ways in which shoppers are marketed to must also evolve to become channel agnostic. Rather than siloed approaches, marketers are striving to adopt multi-channel, orchestrated marketing efforts across mobile, digital, and social media. Also, with social media emerging from its infancy, it’s of critical importance that social media channels serve not only as broadcast or engagement channels, but actual drivers of commerce.

Boston is the birthplace of and home to industry-leading companies like Staples, Wayfair, Rue La La and Visaprint (to name a few) bringing innovative solutions to these and other challenges facing the e-commerce industry. Staples even opened an e-commerce focused research lab, dubbed the Velocity Lab, in the same Kendall Square neighborhood that is home to a growing Amazon office.

Disruption in e-commerce will no doubt arrive in 2014 in the form of new players and/or innovative and fresh approaches driven by the continued evolution of consumer shopping habits. It’s safe bet that Boston will yet again play an integral role in these changes.
Want an opportunity to hear from executives at some of the most exciting and innovative companies in and around the e-commerce space? Find out what’s next on January 30th at MITX’s e-Commerce Summit at Google in Cambridge. We’ll have some of the top local names in the industry there to discuss the biggest trends and key topics such as customer acquisition, content marketing, personalization and of course, mobile. More information can be found here.

Dave Cutler is Director of Content & Marketing for Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX), the premier Internet business and marketing association in New England.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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