A raft of new tools is being used by e-commerce firms to target audiences and boost sales, and just as it may change how online sales are conducted, it could also alter order fulfilment, international parcel services and many other aspects of the e-commerce chain.
One such tool that's increasingly being used by e-commerce retailers is geolocation, or geotargeting, where people are targeted using mobile technologies and companies try to encourage them to purchase something when they're in a certain vicinity.
It works like this: you're out and about and suddenly a notification pops up on your mobile device, most likely your smartphone, telling you about a special offer or a discount at a store you've just passed by or are near to and inviting you to take advantage of it. This is mobile marketing on the go, and it will certainly arouse curiosity and many people receiving such alerts may well visit the store to see what's on offer. It's a melding of online and offline retailing.
Such geotargeting of potential customers offers a whole range of added benefits. Say, for example, someone is shopping in a competitor's store down the road from you – send them a notification offering a better deal from you. Companies could also link up with other firms to offer people added benefits in various areas, online and off. Buying golf gear online? Get a discount at a nearby golf course.
It's just one way mobile technology is changing the e-commerce landscape, and it helps to bridge the divide that still lingers in online retailing: the connection between the real world and cyberspace. Among the other innovations starting to emerge in e-commerce is personalisation, presenting product choices to a potential customer based on a range of data about them and using an algorithm to work out what they might like best. Companies such as online movie streaming service Netflix already do this, as do many others, and it’s a powerful way to get someone to buy.
A term called social co-creation is also being seen as increasingly important in e-commerce. This is where customers actively take part in the production process, and many leading brands are now employing it to boost their revenues.
It all adds up to a thriving, and exciting, e-commerce sector.