Monday, June 17, 2013

How is ecommerce likely to evolve?

Image representing Google Analytics as depicte...
Ecommerce is an ever-changing feast and predicting which trends will hold is an imperfect science, but we're going to have a go anyway. 
Here, in extracts from our Building an Ecommerce Team: Best Practice Guide, we pick out the themes we consider the most important in the context of their impact on ecommerce teams.

Data is the beating heart of ecommerce

Data is already here in a big way. Ecommerce managers need to understand what data can do for their business. You may not be a specialist business analyst but you need to know enough to ask for the right data to be pulled and recommendations to be made.
Having a business analyst in your team or access to a data-orientated person in the finance department is essential now. A finance head might not get what you need, so you need to be patient in teaching them the types of data you require in order to make commercial decisions.
In terms of technology, the size of organisation dictates what kind of data engines you invest in. Operating on an SME scale, it’s likely Google Analytics will be the primary tool, integrated with existing data sources.
Being able to talk like a merchandiser, a marketer and a data geek all in one is complicated but that’s where it feels like it is going; caring about the numbers, the message, the stock – a tall order from a single business leader.

Always-on shopping experiences

Mobile plugs the gaps in service availability, so you have to deliver service 24x7. This means making sure the technology and process is in place so customers can access what they need, when they need it, across devices (persistent basket is good example). The costs will have to be assessed.
For example with live chat, how do you get ROI for providing live chat to audiences from different countries? Should you instead make your site as self-serve as possible for order tracking, history, product info, reviews and content etc.?
In most cases it makes little sense to have a 24-hour service flowing across time zones and offices within your organisation. You’d have to have a very complex order management system in several languages with proficient customer service agents in many languages.
Keep it simple unless you really think you’re going to amass huge sales by setting up this type of complex web of customer service.

Flexible customer service

The requirements for international businesses can be significant. If you offer your site in a foreign language, then you should be offering customer service in that language as well.
Don’t go to the expense of translating and maintaining your site content in another language if you can’t handle customer enquiries in that language as well.
It’s a no-brainer to want to reach out and help the customer wherever they are in the world and then offer relevant help options.

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