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And 4 E-commerce Changes Worth Watching

Thoughts on the future of e-commerceYesterday, we took a look at 4 fundamental truths about the future of e-commerce. Today, I thought I’d share a couple of quick thoughts about what’s changing.

  1. Rich media. Now, by rich media, I don’t just mean videos or (Heaven help us), Flash. Not that videos aren’t part of it. No, I mean all kinds of highly visual, highly engaging content. I’ve touched on this before, but it’s very much worth repeating. Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr are built around visual media. Facebook’s upcoming redesign highlights visuals above other content. Google+ just added a ginormous new cover photo to its members’ profile pages. And, most importantly, your customers have begun to expect that kind of imagery. Apple’s Retina Display computers, tablets, and smartphones and Google’s new Chromebook Pixel and high-resolution mobile phones show how important these leaders think high-res imagery is. As your competitors start to do the same, how ready are you to meet your customers expectations?
  2. Mobile. Clearly a topic I’ve talked about before (both yesterday and plenty of other times, too). So, I’m not going to spend a lot of time on the topic today. But it’s worth noting that mobile continues to evolve and to change your customers’ behavior. We’re a long way from done with this topic.
  3. Payment systems. One way mobile is changing customer behavior is with payment options. While many have predicted the digital wallet for years, we’re finally getting to a place where the infrastructure exists to actually support such a thing. Many hotel chains that used to require credit cards to confirm reservations have removed those requirements within their apps to speed purchase and account for the difficulty of typing 15 to 16 digits while walking or driving. For instance, you’ve got Google Wallet, Amazon Mobile Payments, Apple Passbook, Square, PayPal, Visa payWave, and on and on and on. While we’re probably a 12-18 months from mainstream mobile payments/digital wallets, the writing on the wall seems clear; it’s not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.”
  4. Big Data ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Now I don’t want to knock Big Data. In fact, I’ve talked at some length about how businesses can make use of the tactic. But, slowly, businesses are beginning to realize both the opportunities Big Data offers and its limitations. Far from a panacea, Big Data requires changes in knowledge, skill, and attitude to make it work in practice. Again, that’s not to say it won’t influence the way many businesses do the voodoo they do so well. But it’s going to take time for it to achieve its longer-term benefits.

Again, these represent just some initial thoughts. It’s possible I’ll shift my thinking or gain some additional insights as I continue working through my upcoming talk. But in the meantime, I’d love to hear what you think. Drop me a line or a comment below and let’s talk about it.

Oh, and don’t forget, I’m available to speak at your company’s next event about the future of e-commerce and online marketing, too. If you’ve got a minute, check out my speaker page and contact me for pricing and availability.

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Server status update: Some of you may have noticed that we had a brief outage this morning, due to a server move at Dreamhost (full disclosure: I’m a Dreamhost affiliate as well as a customer). While I’m still disappointed in the approach they took (It’s a terrible idea to move servers in the middle of the business week), the company did conduct the move quickly and with very few issues. Still, no time like the present to review how to make sure your site stays alive. Here’s some of our past coverage on the topic:

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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