2followAs every year, the holiday season is expected to bring a huge jump in online sales between November and December. And especially in e-commerce, the Christmas season is an important source of revenue that will account for around a quarter of the total e-commerce sales in 2013. Therefore it is indispensable for companies to have an online presence, as Dr. Torsten Schwarz affirms in his new book "Leitfaden Digital Commerce", especially when considering the current trends:

Buyer behavior changed

In the course of digitization and the rise of smartphones, the consumers’ behavior is quite obviously changing and demands are exponentially rising. At the same time, a constant switch during the purchase process from offline to online and back could be detected.

Well, we all know that more than 50% of sales in retail stores are prepared by online search. In fact, online shops are often accessed via search engines and anyone looking for something online is usually eager to buy online, too.

Smartphones are the new product consultants

Of course, whoever is out in the city for shopping, probably buys directly in the stores. In doing so, smartphones act as a product and service advisor tool. Responsive design is useful and actually required, but even the availability of products has to be displayed, not to mention that smartphones provide new opportunities for customer loyalty programs and are in general the "second screen" in addition to TV.

Fact is that more and more people use smartphones. En route, people swap ideas, communicate, discuss and evaluate products that make it more and more difficult in business to recognize clearly the point of decision and the point of sale, as the customer journey becomes more and more a kind of channel hopping.

From multichannel to omnichannel

From multichannel to cross-channel, it's actually now moving on to omni-channeling. Cross-channeling is the deliberate combination of channels while omni-channeling is the integration of all kinds of interaction processes to create a holistic customer experience.

To reach new customers, TV, outdoor advertising, and print ads are actively used channels, but online marketing is without doubt much cheaper and more efficient. Dr Torsten Schwarz advises companies to show presence on all possible channels where the customers are. In addition to search engines and the social web, building-up a professional email communication system is essential, too.

Another point is the cross-channel interlocking of the online shop that begins after the order with the product delivery. Alternatively, products can also be picked up in a store, but of course customer-friendly processes are required in such an "in-store pickup" as well.

Differentiation is crucial

With test results and customer reviews, the Internet provides complete market transparency. Products can be compared with just one click, thus, winners will be specialized niche providers and companies that have a presence on all channels.

Product data is an ideal competitive edge as well. Hence, search engines place great value on the correct categorization and description of the product. In addition, it certainly also has advantages to offer a good search system in your own online store.

In regards to ‘Big Data’ it even goes one step further, as customer knowledge gets systematically associated with product knowledge. What’s new is the trend to process the information and make use of it in real time. The aim is to meet the right costumer at the right moment and make the right offer.

Deliver conversation about products and allow comments

Although in the forefront of the social web are experiences that are shared with friends, social commerce can work, especially when companies deliver topics of conversation about their products. Further, reviews and comments in online shops-build trust and positively promote the buying process, besides being an important barometer of consumer satisfaction.

Impact of flat design and shop controlling

When setting up an online shop, an intuitive shop layout and a clear structure come first. Flat design prevails more and more as well.

Due to technological innovation in real time bidding, ‘Big Data’ and retargeting have been in the spotlight in recent years. Display advertising is furthermore one of the most dynamic channels in online marketing and subject to many changes in the media buying and targeting options.

The “Leitfaden Digital Commerce” even provides the e-commerce formula how to achieve more sales with smart shop-controlling: visitors x conversion rate x ø shopping cart value = sales. Of course, the value of the returned goods should be deducted from sales, in this case, but read more on this in order to keep up with the fast-changing online marketing scene.

By Daniela La Marca