To say that ecommerce is the future for a new business is putting things a little strongly. Ecommerce is one avenue down which a new business might be well advised to go. In actuality, it’s one part of a much larger map – the same map all businesses have always been bound to follow which is nominally known as ‘The Marketplace’.
The simplest way to describe the market, for any business, is like this: it’s where the people most likely to want a business’ products and services spend their time and ultimately their money. So in order to capture the sales it needs to stay alive, a new business has to define its marketplace and follow it.
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It is absolutely true to say that more marketplaces are finding more of themselves shifted into the online sphere, or at least replicated there. This is because the generations who do the spending are at least in part represented by what’s called a “digital native”.
Digital natives are anyone who was born in the age when the internet and digital connectivity were commonplace – so in basic terms, anyone who is now around 15 years old, maybe 20. A digital native will automatically look to the online world, usually through a smartphone, to gather information and to make purchases – or at the very least to get the information he or she needs to make a purchase in the “real world”.
It is important, before this discussion goes further, to make a more direct definition of “ecommerce”. Technically speaking, ecommerce is the actual sale of goods and services online – that is, a person has to get into a checkout and use an online payment service or his or her own bank account to transfer funds electronically and complete a transaction.
In reality, though, the idea of ecommerce is probably more wide-ranging. What, for example, of the person who goes into a shop, then calls up that store’s website and asks the sales staff to match its online prices in the flesh? Is that not ecommerce too?
The point is, the real purpose of a modern ecommerce site goes beyond simply selling products or services and leaving things at that. A website is all things to all customers. It’s the place where all the advertising material in the real world, pertinent to the brand owning the site, ends up pointing.
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In essence, the real thrust of the future is this. A brand that sells things, any company that will at some point ask prospects to become customers by actively transferring monies from their account to the account of the brand, would be foolish to avoid making that provision in its website. But its site is more than just a shop. It’s a place to be, somewhere where the brand personality, which is technically what makes prospects into customers in the first place, is given the space it needs to express itself.
It’s all about engaging. Consumers want to feel that they are art of something. The website is where they go to do that.