Researchers Watch Five E-Commerce Trends
E-tailers make consumers happier than offline retailers during fourth quarter, say University of Michigan researchers who track online customer satisfaction.
“What we have is the continuation of a lot of trends that began a while back,”
Giga Information Group analyst Andrew Bartels tells the E-Commerce Times.
“And most of them are good for e-commerce.”
- Multi-channel Retailing
Shoppers are hopping back and forth freely among catalogs, retail stores and
Internet sites, according to Harris Interactive director of e-business intelligence
Lori Iventosch-James. And they expect a seamless transition.
- More Satisfied Customers
“Consumers know what to expect from e-commerce now,”
says Ms. Iventosch-James. “A year or two ago, companies didn’t know what they
were doing online. You had a lot of failures for that reason.”
“Most came back and gave the Web a second try,” she adds. “Now, people are
feeling a lot more positive about the whole online experience.”
- Consumers Do Their Own Thing
“Consumer behavior itself is amazingly static,
and the Web hasn’t changed that,” says Professor Peter Fader of the Wharton
School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. “Shoppers are going
to do what they are going to do.” The bottom line, according to Fader, is
that “even on the Web, the old rules still apply.”
- Death of the Mid-Size E-Tailer
While the number of large e-commerce companies shrinks rapidly through consolidation
and shakeout, there is a growing legion of niche firms operating on shoestring
budgets. “Mid-tier sites, the ones in between, are having trouble making it,”
says Andrew Bartels, analyst, Giga Information Group.
- More Profits
The number of profitable e-commerce companies continues to grow and has almost,
but not quite, reached the point at which a profitable dot-com is no longer
a major news story, Mr. Bartels says. “We haven’t updated the numbers yet
formally, but the level of profitability is probably much closer to 60 or
70 percent now,” he adds.
Moderator Comment: Are consumers getting to the point
where they expect traditional retailers to be bricks and clicks operations?
Yes. Of this we are certain because the most often asked
shopping question of our favorite computer phobic is, “Can we order that online?”
[George Anderson – Moderator]