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What "It’s All E-commerce" Means in 2024 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 404)

Photo of two women shipping packages to illustrate that it's all e-commerce

Your customers live their lives online. They carry the internet in their pockets. We see that in practice every year when Black Friday shopping data comes out. And, what did we learn this year? What do we now know about how customers live their lives online? We’ve learned, as we’ve long said around here, that "it’s all e-commerce."

Retail e-commerce will represent over $900 billion in purchases this year. Travel and ticketing adds even more. At least 29% of all business is conducted online. And those figures understate the percentage of offline sales influenced by digital in B2B and various service industries (healthcare, for instance).

In other words, "It’s All E-commerce."

It’s not too late for you to ensure your 2024 strategy includes "It’s All E-commerce" at its core. But how do you do that? How can you get your customers to connect and interact and transact with you using digital? What do you need to know to adopt a mindset of "It’s All E-commerce"? That’s what this episode of the Thinks Out Loud podcast is all about.

Want to learn more? Here are the show notes for you.

What "It’s All E-commerce" Means in 2024 (Thinks Out Loud Episode 402) Headlines and Show Notes

Show Notes and Links

You might also enjoy this webinar I recently participated in with Miles Partnership that looked at "The Power of Generative AI and ChatGPT: What It Means for Tourism & Hospitality" here:

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Running time: 23m 37s

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Transcript: What "It’s All E-commerce" Means in 2024

 Well, hello again, everyone, and welcome back to Thinks Out Loud, your source for all the digital expertise your business needs. My name is Tim Peter. This is episode

404 of the big show, and I’m so glad you tuned in. I think we’ve got a really, really cool show for you today. Thanks I wanted to start by talking about new data from Adobe that talks about how much money has been spent so far this holiday season online. There’s been about $105.2 billion spent already.

But they forecast that total spending will come in just under 222 billion dollars this year. That’s up about 4.8%.

Now, long time listeners of the show know that we started out primarily as an e-commerce podcast and a lot of my background came from e-commerce. I still think of this as an e-commerce podcast, but I want to say that my view of what e-commerce means has expanded broadly over the years. The 13th episode of this show was called "It’s All E-Commerce."

That was 10 years ago because the premise that I’ve been working under for a very long time is that digital plays an enormous role in every phase of how customers interact with your brand and your business. It plays an enormous role in terms of how customers interact with you everywhere. And that’s where this idea of it’s all e-commerce comes from.

And it’s where this idea of revisiting what is it’s all e-commerce means in 2023 and 2024 look like. And so that’s kind of what I’ve wanted to focus on today. First is I just started with this big number from Adobe. E-commerce is huge, right? 100 billion dollars in just the last couple of weeks. And some of the more interesting stats in that report from Adobe show that mobile now accounts for just slightly over half of spending.

It’s 50.5 percent to 49.5%, which, you know, mobile is obviously playing a huge role. Conversion rate on mobile though, remains roughly half that of desktop. And mobile order size, continues to trail desktop order size by roughly 20%. Now if you think about that, if the average mobile user is converting half as often, and buying only 80 percent as much, but still accounts for the same revenue, then either the price of items purchased on mobile are much higher, or as I suspect, there’s a bunch more mobile traffic. Roughly two and a half times as much mobile traffic, at least based on the back of the envelope calculations that I’ve done.

The growth of mobile has always been a driver of it’s all e-commerce. We should expect that if people carry the internet in their pocket, They’re going to interact with your brand and your business via digital far more often. It’s literally at hand all the time and the data strongly suggests that’s true.

My next favorite bad stat is that e-commerce is now more than 15 percent of U. S. retail sales. And I’m going to explain why I think that’s a bad stat in just a moment. It’s almost as high as it was in Q2 of 2020, the height of the pandemic, or the depth of the pandemic, if you prefer.

And the total for the year, the total spend, should end up around 915 billion dollars. So just a little short in, in hundreds of millions of dollars, away from a trillion dollars in overall spend. E-commerce is huge.

According to the Cato Institute, digital trade of services reached roughly 14 percent in 2019 and surely has not declined in the last four years.

We also know that it varies widely by age. The Wall Street Journal and Deloitte note that consumers aged 18 to 34 spend 1.4 times more than the average consumer on digital goods and services. My clients in hospitality see as much as 65 or 70 percent of their business from digital channels. And I want you to think about how many people who bought Taylor Swift tickets this year did so by standing in line at a TicketMaster counter. Probably not that many, right? Some projections put the percentage of business conducted online at roughly 29%.

Now, I said a moment ago that e-commerce being more than 15 percent of US retail sales is one of my favorite bad stats. And this fact that the projections put the percentage of business conducted online at roughly 29 percent underscores that. Because all of these numbers ignore the influence of digital, whether it’s content, whether it’s ads, whether it’s email, any of the other ways that your customers interact with you before they make a purchase offline. It simply ignores that influence. The key point is digital influences a massive share of overall businesses.

That’s why I call this, "it’s all e-commerce." I take this so much for granted that it’s been a minute since the last time I’ve broached this topic. I just take it kind of for granted that this is the way the world works.

So here’s the thing. Do you?

We’re headed into a new year. Have you incorporated the reality of "it’s all e-commerce" into your strategy? Do you take it for granted in the way that I do? That digital drives an enormous share of the business that you do with your customers regardless of how they buy? You’re getting ready for a whole new year, you’re getting ready for a whole new opportunity to gain a larger share of wallet from your customers and a larger share of the market from your competitors.

And digital is obviously a key resource in making that happen. That’s why I thought it made sense to take a look at the key elements of an "It’s All E-commerce" strategy of taking an approach to strategy that recognizes it’s all e-commerce. and incorporating that into what you do in 2024 and beyond. And there’s some really simple elements here.

You know, the first is it always starts with a customer. I like to say that "customer experience is queen." Before we get there, we need to think long and hard about who our customer is and what it is they want.

Do you know the share of customers who learn about you and interact with you and transact with you online? Is that a stat, are those stats that you pay attention to? Because I’d encourage you to do so. You can’t provide the experiences your customers look for if you don’t know who they are. Do you know the share who do the same with your competitors? How far ahead are they? How much runway have they given you to be ahead of them?

The way you approach this customer experience, the way you approach your customer using digital may require more emphasis if you’re playing catch up. There are definitely industries that lag a bit. I’m going to talk more about this in just a moment.

But that’s a reason why focusing solely on your competitors can be a mistake. If you look at your competitors and you say, "Well, they’re all doing a terrible job. We probably don’t need to do very much." That may not be very smart, right? That might have a flaw baked into it. But if they’re giving you runway, that’s an opportunity to reach customers that maybe none of you have managed to reach yet.

Because any lag is a temporary reality. It’s by no means systemic. Here’s what I mean by this. 2020 was a funny year for me and my business, for our company here. When COVID happened, our pipeline literally dropped to zero. Several of our clients in hospitality closed their doors forever. They sold their property.

And my non hospitality clients, Scaled back for a little bit because they were worried about what was going to happen. So I looked at 2020 at one point, March of 2020, and thought, Oh gosh, we’re going to have a, just probably a record year on the downside, right? Just completely negative. And then everything went nuts.

Suddenly, lots of companies reached out to us and said, effectively, "this digital thing seems kind of important. Can you help us?" Right? They found themselves in a place where digital wasn’t just important to their business. It was crucial. They couldn’t put salespeople out on the road or in customers businesses. They couldn’t have their stores open in many cases. They needed to find ways to connect with customers that they’d never done before.

And the changes we saw in 2020 continue to happen every day. Again, note, e-commerce share of retail is back to where we were in Q2 of 2020 at the depth of the pandemic. Thankfully, this is happening because customers are choosing to move in this direction, not because they’re forced to, as they were in 2020. And thankfully, they’re moving a little bit more slowly, but they’re still moving in that direction. And as I noted in the e-commerce data, younger consumers, folks 18 to 34, take digital for granted, even in things like B2B, where you think, "well, we’re not really doing e-commerce, people don’t buy our products online, they talk to a salesperson, they talk to a sales rep, they talk to a sales engineer." The folks being tasked with helping their leaders learn about new products and services and opportunities in the areas that are still evolving in this area are the people who are the 18 to 34 year olds, right? 25 to 34 most likely. But they’re the ones doing the research and trying to help their leaders understand "where are we going with this?"

So you have to ask yourself, are we prepared to answer their questions? Have we set ourselves up to help them? And that’s something we’re going to come back to more in just a moment.

Before we get there though, we need to talk about one of the biggest parts of customer experience and one of the biggest parts of e-commerce, and that is your calls-to-action. Now when I’m talking about e-commerce and a call-to-action, I don’t necessarily just mean add to cart. Some of you who listen to this program, some of you who listen to the show, you know, you’re B2B, you’re making sales to customers by having them reach out to a salesperson.

You’re having them… You’re conducting sales because they’re meeting with your people and the like. So a call-to-action could be downloading a white paper. It could be signing up for an email newsletter. It could be dialing a phone and calling somebody. Those are all valid calls-to-action more than just, you know, add to cart.

Anytime we talk about calls-to-action though, we have to start with two big questions. The first is, what do your customers want to do? Once they’ve interacted with your brand or your business online for any length of time, what is it that they want? And the second question is, what do you want them to do?

You’re looking for the overlap between those, the sweet spot between those. And then you need to ask yourself, do you make it easy? And do you make it clear.

There’s a really simple framework that I’ve used for years on this, that you want to offer them the BBC: A benefit, a benefit, and a call-to-action.

What’s in it for them to take a specific action? What else is in it for them to take a specific action? And then ask them to do that. If it’s download a white paper, make it download a white paper. If it’s email us, you know, click to email, do that. If it’s click to call, do that. If it’s… Add to Cart, do that. If it’s booked now, do that. But give them the benefits first. Benefit 1, Benefit 2, call-to-action, BBC.

This builds on a really simple framework that Google has had for years about mobile. Where you want to be there, you want to be useful, and you want to be quick. Mark Benioff of Salesforce. com has said for years that speed is the new currency of business.

So you’re always looking for ways to make the experience fast. You only want to slow it down where A, the customer wants you to. Or B, going fast costs you more money than going slow. It’s okay to introduce friction in areas where it’s bad for your business for people to go too fast. Just make sure you look at your data to ensure you’re not losing more to friction than you are to a simple experience.

The cool thing with calls-to-action is there’s so many things you get to play with to see what works best. You can play with the size of the call-to-action. Should it be bigger? Should it be smaller? It’s placement. Should it be higher on the page or lower on the page? The verbiage you use in it. You know "download," "click now," "act now,"" order now." The style. Is it a button or is it a link within your text? And color, can you make it big and shiny and red, or does it need to be smaller and more discreet? You can test all of these to see what works for your customer to improve their experience and to drive more business for you.

Now, you’ve heard me say "customer experience is queen" a lot. The other thing you’ve heard me say a lot is that "content is king." Do you have a clear content strategy in an e-commerce context? Your customers want to be able to answer their questions. Your content is your 24x7x365 salesperson. It is your 24x7x365 customer service rep.

And content also, as I’ve said many times, is not expensive. Content is cheap, especially in an age of AI. And when it does its job of helping the customer make a purchase or helping the customer solve a customer service problem. So think in terms of what your objectives are for your content. What does success look like?

What do you want your content to do for your customers? And what do you want your content to do for your business? That’s all part of your content strategy. Don’t think just in terms of text either. Think images, think audio, think video. They’re all useful forms of content that help drive customers towards the action that they want to take and the action that you want them to take.

The other thing to remember is your content strategy has to have a content distribution strategy. How do your customers find that content? Is it search? Is it social? Is it email? Is it your website? And is there a way for them to share that content with their friends and family and fans and followers?

That’s all part of your distribution strategy. We have a content distribution checklist, by the way, linked in the show notes of the show. So, please, check that out. I think you’ll like it.

And the last thing I’ll add here is do you have a strategy to connect your content strategy and your customer experience strategy? Do you have a strategy to turn people who interact with your content into customers, into subscribers, into members of your community? Again, think about the links between content, customer experience, and calls-to-action. What is it that your customers want, and why would they want to turn to you again and again, every month, every week, every day, as a trusted resource?

They may not buy from you the first time they interact with you on mobile or on desktop, but you want to have a way that they’re going to want to come back. And that’s where your content plays a big role. So, are you living in a world where it’s all e-commerce for your business? Is your business living in that world?

Do you have a e-commerce strategy that makes sense for your business? Do you know who your customer is and have you thought about the fact that customer experience is queen? Have you put that at the center of everything you do? Have you thought about the calls-to-action that enable those great experiences and encourage customers to do the thing that they want to do and the thing that’s good for your business?

Do you have a content strategy that supports those customer experiences? Do you have a content distribution strategy that allows customers to interact with it in the first place? And you have a strategy to turn people interact with your content into customers, into subscribers, into members of your community.

We live in a world where it is all e-commerce. That’s not going to change even when AI comes along. Customers are still going to turn to digital to help them find the products and services and solutions that they need in their life. You are in a position to help them do that today. It starts with recognizing the reality that it’s all e-commerce and setting up your strategy to put that into effect for your business.

And if you do that, I’m really confident that customers will have realized that you’re there to help them, that they’ll come back to you again and again and again, and that they will, in the words of so many e-commerce actions, click now, just like you want them to.

Show Wrap-Up and Credits

Now looking at the clock on the wall, we are out of time for this week. I want to remind you again that you can find the show notes for this episode, as well as an archive of all past episodes, by going to Again, that’s Just look for episode 404.

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Show Outro

Finally, and I know I say this a lot, but we’re 404 episodes into the show, and I am just so thrilled that you keep tuning in and that you keep listening.

You’re the reason we do this. You’re the reason we make this happen every single week. So please keep your messages coming on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on email. I love getting a chance to talk with you, to hear what’s going on in your world, and to learn how we can do a better job building the types of content and insights and information and community that works for you and works for your business.

So with all of that said, I hope you have a fantastic day. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I will look forward to speaking with you here on Thinks Out Loud next time. Until then, please be well, be safe, and as ever, take care, everybody.

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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