Creative thinking that delivers results

20 Sep

Current Trends in eCommerce – “Let’s Make a Deal”

Category: eCommerce

At Sydcam Marketing Communications, we’re always on the lookout for new trends in the world of marketing. I recently came across some very interesting research from The NPD Group that I wanted to share with my readers. For those of you that regularly use the internet to purchase items, you may be surprised how quickly this channel of distribution is evolving.

The “early” days of eCommerce

In the early days of the internet (1990’s), e-commerce was rarely thought of as a critical component of a business’ website. Instead, businesses were more focused on building so-called “brochure” type sites that provided information on their products and services, enabling clients to do research in advance of a buying decision.

They would then go to their traditional distribution channels (retail store, 1-800 number, etc.) to complete the purchase. In research completed by this author at that time, many small business owners expressed concern about cannibalizing their existing channels and upsetting their distribution partners by selling online.

Early in the 21st century, this attitude began to change as businesses realized that clients were clamouring for increased convenience to cope with the time pressures in their busy lives. Selling online was the perfect solution to this problem. Many manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers developed eCommerce portals to meet this need. The common thread with most was they were merely extensions of their existing distribution channels, offering the same products at the same prices (with shipping fees to boot!).

eCommerce Today

Fast forward to today where attitudes and expectations have again changed dramatically. The NPD Group’s research indicates that Canadian consumers who shop online do so because they expect to pay less – 60% of Canadians polled said they shop online to save money. More than 50% also said they expected online prices to be lower than those found in a store. As well, 71% said they enjoyed the convenience of shopping online as it makes price comparisons that much easier.

Interestingly, this heightened price sensitivity is also reflected in Canadians apprehension to paying the shipping and handling costs associated with online shopping. This was sighted in the survey as the number one reason why purchasers didn’t follow through with their online purchases. It was also found that high shipping costs often drove the customer to browse elsewhere for the products and services they wanted.

Taking Action

So what does this all suggest? First and foremost, business owners and marketers should realize that this shift symbolizes an increased sophistication on the part of the consumer. They have finally figured out what we knew all along – that the costs of distribution through the online medium are much lower than through more traditional channels – and they expect that those cost savings should be passed on to them as opposed to padding a business’ bottom line.

What should businesses do with this new found information? Clearly, operating your online business as a mere extension of your traditional business will not suffice. Instead, your eCommerce strategy needs to be differentiated and focused on “online” specific niches, such as promoting new and innovative products, as well as providing value to customers by using your website to promote clearance sales and special “VIP” events. Providing reasonable and flexible shipping options and their related costs would also go a long way to decreasing consumer apprehension with purchasing from your site.

Roots Canada is an excellent example of a company that has devised a unique strategy for its online/eCommerce channel, using email marketing to leverage the online shopping experience for their customers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so feel free to drop me a response with your thoughts to

Find out more about how Sydcam Marketing Communications can assist you with your eCommerce strategies or with any marketing initiative you want to get off the ground successfully.