Post #1 – E-commerce, the new commerce?

Posted on September 30, 2012


Chapter 3 of Basics Marketing O2: Online Marketing covered the topic of e-commerce. E-commerce is nothing new to marketers these days as it arose back in the late 1990s/early 2000s, which marked the boom and bust. Online stores that met success were those that provided special offerings and were the first to be available in its domain, like lists Amazon at #2 in its list of “12 Websites That Stood The Test of Time“.

For consumers, e-commerce is attractive because it makes shopping accessible, less time-consuming and it is much easier for them to browse. However, not everyone is sold on buying many products and services online and the once held belief that online shopping would trump brick-and-mortar stores has in fact been dispelled.

Personally, I use e-commerce websites more for window shopping rather than buying online. In fact, browsing on these websites usually triggers me to pay a visit to the brick-and-mortar stores.   I base this on two reasons. First, I, as well as many other consumers, prefer to have the choice of holding the good in my hand and testing it out in person. It feels more reliable this way and it gives you more confidence in your purchase. Second, I perceive transactions in e-commerce to be less simple than in-person purchasing because of the shipping and handling and the additional information that must be given. Although at first it may seem easy to buy a DVD on Amazon, I would rather go to the closest electronics store, complete a quick transaction, and then have my DVD in my hands much sooner.

There are features that I do really appreciate in online shopping including the prices displayed (because it makes it easy to compare prices) and the helpful reviews made by guests who have experienced the product or service at hand. These people will often give useful tips on shopping and will be completely honest about the value and if it’s worth the money in your pocket. In fact, many of these product reviews have had a great deal of influence on my purchasing as of late. For example, I like buying cosmetics of quality but they must be worth the money spent. On the Sephora website, which I consider an excellent e-commerce site, the Lancôme Définicils Mascara receives positive reviews from enthusiastic customers and it has made me eager to purchase it after I finish my current tube of mascara. Consequently, reviews can be significant for other customers trying to decide what to buy.

However, an article by Singyin Lee states that we should be mindful of the authenticity and genuineness of a reviewer. In fact, it is estimated that 5% of reviews online were fake. If the review sounds unreasonable, then it is possible that this reviewer is not credible. You can also do an inspection on the reviewer by viewing other past reviews he/she has written. It is also important to note that most reviews are completed do to an extreme response (love or hate) so you will see fewer reviews that rate products and services in the middle. Overall, reviewers will generally help consumers AND retailers rather than sabotage them. Reviews help give products credibility and they give consumers a sense of assurance when they are purchasing online. This is good news for e-commerce businesses!