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Social commerce and the OWJO revolution

The Limitations of Traditional eCommerce Models

In traditional ecommerce a retailer has many different but disconnected routes to market meaning potential consumers can transact with the retailer on different but disjointed web properties. The challenge going forward is to provide ubiquity while also allowing centralised control. To understand the opportunity for new ecommerce providers we must first consider what the traditional model looks like and what pitfalls it contains.

The consumer may transact directly with the retailer on the retailers own website. In this instance the retailer has a level of control over the consumer and may be able to gather additional marketing information while the consumer transacts with them. If the website is sticky and encourages repeat visits then over time the retailer can build up a picture of the consumer and offer personalised recommendations and a tailored user experience consistent with what the consumer has specified as their preference or what the personalisation engine anticipates will please the consumer. 

The retailer may also drive traffic to their website via marketing and advertising activities with third party sites. They may also use links from partner or affiliate websites to increase footfall on their own property. The challenge here is that simple links on third party websites have limited appeal to browsing consumers especially if they have a single purpose in mind. Even if the link as advertised in the third party site is compelling and of interest the consumer decision to purchase is deferred until they are re-directed to the home site and the impulse is reduced or lost altogether.

Other third party sites may host a version of the home websites product catalogue and may overcome this problem of multiple clicks before buying decision is confirmed, by offering an instantaneous purchase option. While better than the previous interaction the limitations exist when post transaction the information is or is not shared with the originating retailer. This information, if consistent with the information the consumer uses when on the originating website, can be added to the business intelligence on that consumer and may augment the consumer experience should they return. This however assumes that the consumer “looks” the same on both sites and a connection can be made between the information. In most instances, this will not be the case and all but a few of the largest retailers would, even if the information was consistent, have the ability to interpret the additional information for future business benefit. The concept of sharing the catalog in the first place is simply to give your products the best chance possible of being viewed by a potential consumer. Akin to opening up multiple bricks-and-mortar stores in different towns. In very few cases does the sophistication extend any further. This is due to the overhead in mining this information and setting up the procedures to allow the third party site to pass back the business intelligence, versus the equivalent business benefit.

Portal sites may also offer a retailer’s goods as a distribution channel. With music for example – Amazon.com may offer the bands MP3’s for download, books for sale, t-shirts for sale; Ticketmaster may offer ticketing for concerts and related merchandise; retailers on eBay may offer collectibles and second hand goods; and so on. In all of these instances the source retailers goods are being offered but the retailer sees no return in terms of business intelligence. Additionally, if the retailer is an individual or small to mid sized business it is highly unlikely that these portals would be interested in distributing their goods indirectly.         

Finally, social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube seem entirely out of reach for most existing ecommerce suites regardless of the fact that they represent the single biggest evolution in consumer behaviour and purchasing since the advent of the internet. Even if solutions become available they will typically be bespoke and restricted as they will be attempting to morph existing traditional ecommerce suite platforms into a process that is entirely alien to what has been previously experienced and catered for within their functionality.

New disruptive ecommerce technology must appeal to traditional ecommerce providers who wish to extend their reach beyond the limits of traditional ecommerce (particularly in relation to the emergence of social media and social commerce) and expand the ability they have to develop new products and get these products to market lightning fast across all digital footprints using a centralised process and then understand and react to consumer behaviour – in real time.

In looking at what is currently available in the market in this disruptive category it is the opinion of this observer that OWJO represents the “best of breed” in this new class of ecommerce provider. For more information check out www.owjo.com.

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