E-Commerce Is Changing

The last decade has seen radical changes to Britain’s buying habits. The introduction of readily available super-fast broadband, as well as the global economic recession, has had various impacts on consumer spending.

The introduction of different shopping environments, combined with the increasing influence of technology in the home, means that modern gadgets, gifts and garments are desired more than ever. This desire makes such products increasingly available for purchase.

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, portable tablets like Apple’s iPad and TV/broadband/phone packages are some of the most desirable items on Britons’ shopping lists. As a result, firms are capitalising on the popularity of these mediums by selling their products online.

E-commerce is changing

As tablets and smartphones can access shopping sites, social media stores and email marketing communications, firms are experimenting with various e-commerce, m-commerce (mobile) and f-commerce (Facebook) channels to maximise their exposure to a variety of different audiences, thus increasing revenue. It’s a cycle that looks to be increasing in momentum with every passing week.

This ‘trifecta of commerce’ – which is available 24/7, unlike the High Street – has naturally created changes to when purchases are made online. Case in point, a recent study from retailer, Play.com, revealed that the firm’s highest browsing figures and sales volumes occur on Monday, between 8pm – 10pm.

Additionally, research shows that online shoppers are increasingly making purchases when outside the home, with 19 per cent using smartphones and 11 per cent using tablets. In fact, mobile transactions accounted for 8.2 per cent of all British online trading during the first quarter of 2012, equating to a staggering 2,000 per cent jump on Q1 2010. No matter when or where, consumers are now able to shop more conveniently, at a time that suits them.

This is possible due to the introduction of stable web hosting services. Operating efficiently, web hosting can provide a quick, reliable service for retailers that cannot be understated, as it allows customers to be served at any point during the day or night.

Going social

Even the process of exchanging currency to purchase a product is changing. Social media giant, Facebook is using ‘Facebook credits’ as currency to buy virtual goods in games and apps on its network. ‘In-app’ purchases are also becoming commonplace in order to remove ads, release additional content or unlock extra features.

Meanwhile, aspirational picture-sharing network Pinterest, which established itself in 2010, is now responsible for driving more sales to retail websites in the US than Facebook. Social media in all its forms is proving to be an e-commerce game-changer.

Social media hasn’t just presented firms with new opportunities to make sales, it has also allowed deeper engagement with customers. Firms that react to genuine customer comments on social media or offer deals are more likely to inspire trust and develop a relationship with their market, potentially turning consumers into brand advocates.

It’s clear to see that Britain’s buying habits are evolving due to technology and companies are consequently aligning their marketing efforts to exploit the change. No longer can firms ignore the online world and solely concentrate on their offline efforts.¬†An integrated world is now a reality so firms should adapt accordingly, or face being left behind by the changing face of Britain’s consumer habits.

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Dominic Monkhouse is the UK MD of managed hosting provider PEER 1. He has spent 14 years working in sales, marketing and business management within the IT sector. Prior to PEER 1, he held senior positions with Rackspace and IT support company IT Lab. Dominic is regularly interviewed by and quoted in business and technology publications including the Financial Times, Data Centre Dynamics, and Computer Business Review. Dominic has a BSc in Agricultural and Food Marketing from Newcastle and a MBA from Sheffield Business School.