E-сommerce is gradually updating to version 3.0. What does it mean? What were the previous versions? And what are the features of the new one? In this post, we will try give the answers to these questions. The formation of e-commerce can be conditionally divided into three stages. The process itself is still unfinished, and e-commerce is going to get a lot of new forms and updates in the next couple of years. Some of them are obvious (like appearance of gamification and integration into mobile devices) while others are still unpredictable, but we can state with the confidence that all this changes are key elements of e-commerce 3.0 and further versions. For the better understanding of the stage as a particular and the phenomena as a whole, let’s start with versions 1.0 and 2.0.
E-commerce 1.0. During this stage, the first online shops appeared. They became imitations of the offline world. E-commerce 1.0 was absolutely new phenomenon which caused a lot of ambivalent feelings. No one imagined that electronic commerce would become the new threat to bricks-and-mortar stores.
E-commerce 2.0. Version 2.0 appeared with transformation of aforementioned websites into clever multimedia portals. They were not just about selling products they were also persuading people to snap up the special deals. 2.0 is the current state of E-commerce which is gradually updating to version 3.0.
According to BBC post, e-commerce makes up just 5% of all retail, but it is growing faster and faster as new innovations take effect. Big companies try to go with the times, and as a result we can see Adobe Creative Cloud instead of Creative Suite; the integration of Timberland, The Blues Jean Bar, Kenneth Cole and Scott James with Swirl; the growth of different B2B, B2C and C2C marketplaces. E-commerce appears on more and more markets, displacing the usual forms of interaction or merging with them. One of three buying decisions in bricks-and-mortar stores is influenced by online research, while in some cases in-store research also leads to the increase of online sales.
The driving forces
smartphones and m-commerce;
high quality ads;
The major driving forces of e-commerce 3.0 are smartphones and social networks. According to smartcompany.com.au, desktop computers still hold the first place among devices, used for purchasing (70% of all operations). Tablets are on the second place (with 20%), and smartphones are third (10%), but they bring mobility and accessibility to the industry. New technologies can provide customers with the necessary information both at home or in a supermarket: reviews, feedbacks and price comparisons are always in a pocket. Furthermore, Google’s Project Loon aims to expand the current possibilities, bringing Internet connection even to remote and rural areas. This means that any purchase can be made almost everywhere in the nearest future. The combination of smartphones popularity and widespread of Internet coverage in such regions as South America, Africa and CIS countries will lead to rapid growth of e-commerce. These markets are new and almost undiscovered, so their possibilities for e-commerce are very impressive.
Shopping always was a very social experience, and friends still play a significant role in it. They can give some useful tips, help to decide what and where to buy, or make compliments. In e-commerce, all these actions are possible only with the integration into social networks. According to Comscore, people spend 20% of online time for different social networking services, so the interaction of e-commerce 3.0 with Facebook and other similar platforms is inevitable. Both sellers and buyers receive certain benefits from this collaboration. A social component appears in the online shopping, making it more attractive for customers. This also works as an additional advertising system for sellers: people share their new purchases with friends through their accounts in various social networking services .
Integration with social networks also leads to individualization of e-commerce. In 3.0, sellers should know the taste of every customer. Such knowledge will be an important weapon in a war for the customers’ loyalty, and social networks will become the source of all necessary information. Another way for individualization of e-commerce is related to mobile devices (m-commerce) and creation of different apps and services, which work as personal assistants for shopping. This can be more effective than gathering information from social networks for different reasons, but such apps and services are not for everyone, so they have much smaller target audience.
The other aspect of integration into social networks is the creation of high quality ads and brand messages. Today, all these things are catchy, but often they are so far from being works of art. If companies want to conquer the news feed, they have to change this. More people will “like” and share high quality content. Eventually, this will lead to maximum returns on the investment. On this basis, another possible trend is possible. It is unostentatious promotion. Ads will focus more on the physical wellbeing and its emotional side, than on the product itself.
Everyone knows that nothing is more social than games, so e-commerce 3.0 is impossible without gamification. This new trend will get wide popularity within the next years. Such companies as Teleflora, Nike, Starbucks, Microsoft and many others already use different game elements in non-game contexts in order to drive special behavior among their customers.
Bigger and better visual is a must for e-commerce 3.0. Multi angle views, high definition photos, zoom function and video demonstrations can compensate the lack of tactile experience, but they will never replace it, so showrooms will be the important part of future e-commerce.
Companies should also think about multichannel and omni-channel retailing to gain the maximum possible audience. The modern society is very diverse, so it requires a lot of different approaches. Access to all retailing channels is a key aspect of success in e-commerce 3.0.
A brave new phase of online consumption gradually comes into force. E-commerce 3.0 will be more substantial, pervasive and influential than previous versions, so get ready for the new paradigm of trade and deeper immersion into the digital space.