Analyze trends and competition before starting an e-commerce activity

trends for ecommerceA recent survey by Nielsen pushes to reflect on the scope of the phenomenon of e-commerce, its latest trends and introduced radical changes in the buying habits of consumers.

 

Are likely to have a bitter taste many children used the beloved weekly trip to the edge of the shopping cart, in the company of mom and dad. It seems, in fact, that, in due course, supermarkets and hypermarkets could see considerable reduction in the number of visitors, being replaced by the comfortable and convenient online stores.
 
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It is, of course, still a distant prospect, but some signs hint at how many in the consumer are beginning to understand the scope of the network potentially revolutionary, in their choice of distribution.
 
In the light of the complex economic dynamics of the last period, users are changing their spending habits, use of the Internet to strengthen their power and information to save his own inclination. In this context, "being there" is a way for companies to experiment more and more mandatory and not merely an alternative, offering the Web with the greatest potential in terms of growth.
 
The difficulties are not few, companies need to monetize investments in marketing and there are many technological and logistical factors involved, but even before this, the obstacles to be overcome are of a cultural nature.
 
Nielsen - a leading company in measurement and analysis related to the purchase and consumption, use and exposure to the media - has just published the results of a study on "How connectivity affects the overall shopping", useful to understand the extent of changes taking place on consumers' purchasing practices, following the widespread dissemination of the network.
 
The basis of the survey there are interviews with more than 28,000 Internet users in 56 countries and from the calculations shows that are computer software and games category in 2012 has seen the largest growth rate (18 percentage points compared to 2010) in the propensity to purchase online by users: 29% of respondents plan, in fact, to purchase similar products within the next six months, from any device connected to the network, compared to 11% recorded in 2010.
 
 
The intention to buy online tickets for entertainment events is then increased by 10 percentage points, from 20% to 30%, while the hardware for computer games and has seen an increase of 6 points, reaching 25%, publications video and music (CD, VCD, DVD) to 5 points (from 18% to 23%), accessories for cars and motorcycles of 4 points, reaching 11%, the products for personal care products and cosmetics 3 points ( from 22% to 25%), the clothing / accessories / shoes / jewelry 1 point, from 36% to 37%, imposing, however, in absolute terms, in the first place users' propensity to purchase via the web. In second place in this ranking then check the fund books / magazines / newspapers on paper, but this loses 11 points on 2010 (from 44% to 33%), because - as we shall see - the parallel increase in the propensity to buy for digital versions. In third place (tied with the purchase of tickets to entertainment events) travel reservations (train, plane, car, boat), also down, albeit very slight, compared to 2010, from 32% to 30%.
26% of consumers plan to buy mobile phones (including accessories) and 20% of e-books and subscriptions to newspapers and magazines online (thanks to the growing spread of the various devices mobile devices like smartphones and tablets), both categories of new introduction in research 2012.
 
However, the real news emerged from the survey concerns the daily shopping in the Food & Beverage: emphasize the promoters of the survey as the propensity to buy online products of this type is increased by 44% in two years, with over a quarter of the sample (26%) who plan to buy food and drinks within the next six months, connecting to the Internet through your computer, smartphone or tablet.
 
"While durable goods such as clothing, books and electronics show the highest level of propensity to buy online," noted John Burbank, President of Strategic Initiatives Nielsen, "the influence of the Internet to purchase of consumer goods is clearly growing. " Those involved in marketing, he said, "will necessarily identify who you are converting to digital for daily shopping in order to focus on the correct type of consumer, using digital strategies appropriate to improve the online shopping experience."
 
Many are also activities related to daily shopping that users make on the network: 61% of respondents said they do research related to spending, to check prices and read consumer reviews, 45% for information on products food items, 43% sought bids, 33% have read the information on the promotions in stores, 33% have tried shopping vouchers, 26% have tried the website producers, 18% said products through social media and 11% used a digital shopping list.
 
We note, in particular, how the users in the Asia-Pacific resort to the Internet mainly for searching (70%), compare prices (48%) and comment through social media (26%), and those of Latin America to look for offers (64%) and information on the websites of manufacturers (41%), while those of North America to find coupons (43%).
 
"Online shopping meet requirements considered essential as the convenience, quality and diversity of supply," he said Burbank. "However, the success of the Internet, e-commerce and more specifically for the purchase of consumer goods, it will be different for different product categories. Who buys online consumer goods, in fact, tend to have a multi-channel approach to buying and continuing to also use the traditional point of sales. "
As regards, finally, the time estimates, the report shows that almost half of the respondents (47%) spend at least 25% of the time on their research topics related to online shopping, and 23% spend at least there the half.
 
 
Most of those who said they use the Internet for business-related expenses (63% -91% depending on the type of activity) claims to do it weekly or monthly. A third of respondents said, finally, to use the Internet daily to research (37%), to give their feedback hrough social media (33%), to look for offers (31%) and to look for information on the products ( 31%).
 
46% of respondents used social networks to inform and orient themselves in online shopping and increased the number of those who say they buy frequently on e-store (37% of respondents).
"In a world where consumers have an increasingly important role in influencing the perception of the brand through social media, reviews and scores, provide real answers and get the support of consumers is crucial. Those involved in marketing have to encourage these responses and provide engaging experiences in order to increase brand loyalty and create an ongoing relationship and the bilateral agreement between the brand and the consumer, "he concluded Burbank.
 
The latest estimates of the size of the e-commerce market that come from overseas seem to confirm the trend of growth: comScore - global leader in measuring the digital world - published in August, the figures for the second quarter of 2012, which identified an increase in the phenomenon of 15% compared to last year, spending on online purchases of approximately 43.2 billion dollars in the United States and marking the seventh consecutive quarter of double-digit growth. Note in particular that, according to the survey, a strong incentive for online shopping is the service of free shipping (42% of the purchases include this option). The perspectives outlined thus appear quite encouraging, despite some signs of renewed economic uncertainty (the perception of consumers about the state of the economy seems to be - said the president of comScore's Gian Fulgoni - currently worse) and an unemployment rate still high.
 
Dropping the view on the Italian market, the scenario identified by the latest research institutional grants ample room for optimism, while maintaining stable a delay in the spread of the phenomenon of e-commerce.
The Observatory eCommerce B2c Netcomm-School of Management of Politecnico di Milano is constantly striving to estimate the volume of e-commerce in the national context, which would have recorded a +19% in 2011, with sales in excess of 8 billion euro . The forecast for 2012 is then an increase of 18%, reaching to 9.5 billion euro.
 
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In June, would also rose to 11.3 million users who have shopped online at least once in the previous three months, or 42.5% of Internet users in Italy, an increase of 22% compared to a year ago; between them would be 7.06 million regular shoppers (26.5% of the entire internet universe Italian). To say it was the last survey carried out by Netcomm (the consortium of Italian e-commerce) in collaboration with Human Highway (the Italian research institute specialized in the service, communication and online marketing), and among the products purchased, stand out at first travel tickets for planes, trains and ships (16.8% of the sample), confirming the weight that the tourism sector has of the total e-commerce in the beautiful country (estimated to weigh 55 percentage points , making it the leading sector of the Italian e-commerce) and the parallel importance that the web is having on the sector. Following books, computers and peripherals for PC, clothing, telephone charges and stays (hotels, resorts, vacation packages).
 
Further investigations, in recent weeks, tried, in varying degrees, to identify the phenomenon of e-commerce in our national context: eMarketer pointed out that the positive trend involving the whole of Europe, with the UK leading sales volume and users involved and Italy that, despite the slow start, it seems to be, in recent years, partially recovering its delay, making this form of trading now represents an important part of their budget. eMarketer forecasts for an increase of e-commerce by 25.5% in 2012 (amounting to 16.16 billion U.S. dollars) and a total turnover of 31.25 billion dollars in 2016. Substantial growth but probably not enough to close the gap with the more developed reality, since the rate of increase of the turnover generated by the e-commerce seems to be in constant slowdown (red line on the chart).
 
Some data seem linked, at least in part, the Italian delay to the low capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises to innovate and offer e-commerce solutions, therefore, in essence, weak inclination to innovation according to the consulting firm Between, only 5% of the Italian companies are using some form of online sales, compared with a European average of 15% (in Norway the figure is 36%), with this effect our country the second lowest in Europe, followed only by Romania. The situation worsens if you focus on smaller companies: using e-commerce, only 11% of medium-sized Italian companies (compared to 30% of medium-sized companies in Germany) and 5% of those small (compared to 19 % of German).
 
Yet the scope of e-commerce can be considered a real transformation in the economic landscape, the transformation that is enriched every year, thanks to technological innovation and the parallel development of new trends and new consumer buying behavior on the part of users. First, change the logical distribution: manufacturing companies can, thanks to the network, go directly to the final consumer, eliminating the traditional intermediary of the distributor's territory. The real competitors become, then, the big international online retailers are able to compete on the price of products and services (such as shipping).
 
One of the most successful current phenomenon of e-commerce regards its mingling with the tools and platforms are always new, in a system that is increasingly multi-channel and engaging for the user: social media and applications are now an essential component of strategies marketing and corporate communications and begin, therefore, to be exploited as a real sales platforms. Social networks are still used mainly as a means to create value around the brand and products / services offered. The buzz generated by the sharing of content and effective integration with the company's e-commerce site can decree in a short time a substantial increase in sales.
 
According to reports in the report "E-commerce in Italy in 2012, trends, strategies and development trend of a growing market," presented in April 2012 by Casaleggio Associates, in partnership with Adobe Systems, social deemed most effective by Italian companies for the promotion of its brand or to support sales are Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google+, with a clear preference for the former, considered "very effective" by 23% of companies, and "fairly effective" by 42%. Youtube is considered useful from a total of 31% of companies, many of which have, in fact, your own channel for the publication of advertisements or promotional video that support operations. Twitter and Google are appreciated by 26% of companies, while less importance is attributed to LinkedIn (10%), Flickr and Foursquare (both effective for only 4%).
 
Growing interest, even if in terms of experimentation, are involving a relatively recent social platform as Pinterest (now the third most in a short time promoted in the e-mail address of the retailer in the world), used for the presentation of images and photographs comment products offered. Many are the possibilities offered by this tool, as they well imagined some big names in tourism (Visit Trentino), clothing (Sisley, Tezenis) of serivizi (Italian Post Office) and also the Food & Beverage (Barilla and Coffee Carbonelli ): the impact of evocative images certainly raises a rush to embrace the intense universe of values ​​conveyed by the brand and the great success that the platform allows the multiplication constant is having on this momentum by offering a real guarantee of virality to the corporate message. You can decide, for example, to include high image quality and creativity for products sold or images that evoke philosophy and mission, giving way to a kind of visual communication with their customers and prospects.
 
Another process that companies must take into account is the widespread diffusion of mobile devices (in Italy there are more than 20 million smartphones and more than 1 million tablet), increasingly used by the users to meet their information needs in terms of daily shopping. Mobile-commerce and geolocation services are, therefore, two trends that need to be taken into account: a recent study commissioned by Deloitte on a sample of 1,557 U.S. consumers, demonstrates how mobile devices are wrapped currently 5.1% of sales Annual retail, the equivalent of $ 159 billion only in 2012, with plans to reach the 689 billion by 2016. The influence that cell phones carry the consumer is exercised, rather than in direct sales, initiating the process of driving to the point of sale, where the action of searching for information is converted into purchase.
 
Next to the concept of e-commerce is developed then the info-commerce: all the sites that people visit to get news about products and services, compare prices, read reviews, or leave your comments and help to increase indirect purchases off line and help increase familiarity and confidence with the computer system with presumably positive effects on future sales. The retail companies, in their online presence, should focus on creating a relationship with customers based on engagement and loyalty. The survey of Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising reveals that as much as 92% of consumers around the world expresses its confidence in the so-called "earned advertising" based on word of mouth and recommendations from other users, considering this is the most reliable form of promotion.
 
The spread of the tablet could also lead to the increase of another phenomenon, definitive "couch-commerce": it is the tendency to make online shopping, being - as the name suggests - to lie on the couch. This is especially true when you consider that the tablet seems to be mainly used in leisure time, due to the time zone of the first-time (between 19:00 and 22:00).
 
Dynamism and flexibility are, in conclusion, the requirements become mandatory for the companies, as a result of e-commerce. The new services offered to customers necessarily imply an adaptation of the activity, in terms of logistics and inventory management, resulting in a multi-channel integration. Fully understand the target audience and create personalized offers, able to exploit the many mechanisms made possible by the network (instant sales, online auctions, sales Microflash ...) is, finally, the most current challenge for companies that want to undertake successfully way of e-commerce.
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