In recent years, the growth of eCommerce has been unprecedented, changing the way we shop and sell, involving new tech trends like Artificial Intelligence and recommendation engines to make it more scientific.
But what about the socio-economic impact of eCommerce? Are there benefits of eCommerce to society or impact on consumer behavior?
For instance, according to a study by Bargain Fox 29% of consumers think testimonials are important for building credibility.
Or that 43% of online shoppers discovered new products on social media channels. Smartphone usage, eco-friendly shopping, and peer review and recommendation are factors that have impacted the main game where customers are concerned.
The rise of eCommerce Start-ups
Following the footsteps of eCommerce behemoths like Amazon and eBay, several eCommerce companies have come up in the past couple of years to cater to the growing consumer needs.
If you take the example of India which is one of the most booming eCommerce centers, companies like Flipkart, Snapdeal, Myntra etc. have attracted investment from major investors and venture capitalists and even foreign investment.
One outcome of this is better financial growth and opportunities for several retailers who can scale up and sell across cities and beyond countries. Consumers in remote or rural areas now have access to the world, literally at their fingertips, thanks to high internet penetration and cheap smartphone devices.
In fact, mobile and app-based shopping have taken precedence over desktop/laptop devices and consumers prefer to use their phone for the entire journey. Be it reading reviews, comparing prices or adding products to their wish-list, mobile is their go-to device for it.
To leverage the benefits of this booming economy, many companies are now adopting different innovative strategies and operational models to differentiate from the competition.
This has led to several new ideas like partnering with online marketplaces or setting up their own stores. ome of the most prominent operation models include:
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- Marketplace and pick-up and drop
- Self-owned inventory
- Private label
- White label
Access for the marginalized sectors
One of the best aspects of digital commerce is that it doesn’t discriminate. Live in a remote location? Do you have a flaky internet connection?
Whether you are an urban shopper or rural, you only need a smartphone and an app to buy things that you never had access to.
This is crucial when you think of online pharma retail that deliver a range of pharmaceutical products at highly competitive rates, no matter what your location.
For the disabled and the elderly, eCommerce is a boon because it gives them the convenience to shop, on their own terms.
The burgeoning billion-dollar industry may work online but to keep the cogs and wheels running, you need human resources.
There is a whole new segment of jobs within the digital commerce industry from web developers, designers, Magento architects, web analytics, SEO managers to specialist eCommerce strategists and marketers.
While online commerce has changed the rules of retail, it has also minimized the cost of transportation, advertising, and marketing.
There is now direct and rapid contact between buyers and sellers and great use of social networking channels for communication.
As the use of social networking sites like Facebook and Instagram grows, businesses understand the potential of these channels to serve their customers better.
According to one prediction, 90% of businesses will use some form of social media for customer service in just two years.
To everything, there is a flipside. If eCommerce brings 24/7 access, convenience, competitive pricing, and more choices, it also has the ability to make you spend more and shop more.
Online shopping addiction is a real challenge for many people and the symptoms are similar to compulsive disorders.
There are many reasons why online shopping is so addictive; ease of shopping, no real money used in a transaction, quick thrills and delayed gratification.
Maressa Hecht Orzack, founder of the Computer Addiction Service at McLean Hospital says, “On the Internet, it’s not real money. If you get carried away, you can be in lots of trouble.”
Another flipside of the rise of eCommerce is the loss that local retailers and small businesses suffer and now there is a conscious movement among many shoppers to buy from small retailers and shops as much as possible.
But on the whole, eCommerce has provided many opportunities, economic growth and wider access to customers. As technology and machine learning algorithms evolve, we will see many more disruptive patterns in the world of online selling.