E-commerce: Emerging Trends to Act On
As more consumers migrate to the Internet as more of them gain broadband access, merchants will have the ability to communicate more deeply with their customers, predicted Jay Heratti, senior vice president of strategic planning for multichannel retail and media giant IAC/InterActiveCorp (IAC) in his keynote address at the eTail conference held last week in Philadelphia. Following are several trends that he identified as being the keys to sales success on the Web in the near future.
* Video that sells: “Although the Web is feature rich, it lacks the touch and feel of a retail store, or the demonstrable aspects of a television program,” Heratti said. His solution to this problem has been to add video to IAC’s e-commerce sites. It’s a natural fit on the Home Shopping Network’s Web site (HSN.com), but video that demonstrates product use in a home setting has been used on luxury home goods cataloger Frontgate’s site as well.
While many consumers still surf the Web with a slow dial-up connection, Herrati noted that broadband penetration has reached 50 percent, suggesting that online video is more accessible than ever.
* User generated content: Customers prefer to get messaging from other customers rather than from merchants, Herrati said. Allowing on your site such user generated content as forums or customer reviews allows customers to tell each other what they love about your products. Although it opens the door to negative content, Herrati suggested that merchants not censor or edit this feedback. A variety of opinions provides credibility, he said, and it’s always beneficial to use negative feedback to improve on what may be wrong.
* The broadening of online marketing science: “Online marketing is quickly becoming a fragmented discipline that one person can’t do (alone),” Herrati stated. He noted the importance of appointing or training specialists in various disciplines, such as search engine optimization, search engine marketing, Web design and online merchandising. For companies with multiple brands, he pointed out that IAC’s strategy is to appoint different specialists within each company branch, and engage in regular cross-company knowledge sharing.