[This article originally appeared in IoD Suffolk magazine]
What is eCommerce?
To put it simply, eCommerce is the selling of products and services online, either to other businesses or to consumers, usually through the worldwide web. From its humble beginnings in 1972, when the first online transaction was made by two US students, it is forecast that in 2013 one billion people will have made an online purchase.
The UK is one of the most internet-based economies in the world, according to research by the Boston Consulting Group. They found in 2010 that eCommerce was worth £121 billion – around 8.3% of the UK economy. Companies of all sizes and from all types of sectors now successfully use eCommerce – for example, 25% of John Lewis’s sales are online.
The impact of social media on eCommerce
The growing influence that social media has on online purchases cannot be ignored. It is estimated (source: Social Media Today) that in 2013, 30% of eCommerce buyers were influenced by social media content from friends. Social media offers you the opportunity to gain customers, increase your knowledge of what your customers want and build connections with them.
Social media can include many forms of online communication – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and blogs, to name but a few. So how can social media improve your eCommerce bottom line?
- customers – using social media will enable you to increase your customer base. By creating an online presence, your marketing activity can include people you could never reach through local advertising.
- visibility – you can use your social media presence to engage with followers and customers and let them know what you are doing. These people are then likely to share your business with their friends and family who may also be interested in what you have to offer.
- content – social media enables you to promote and tailor special offers. You can also establish a relationship with your customers through letting them know about the personal side of your business. Creating a connection with potential customers can increase your customer base and brand loyalty. Content is increasingly becoming more important with search engine optimisation; fresh content leads to higher rankings, which, in turn, drives more visitors to your website and consequently higher sales.
- participation – social media channels such as Facebook allow you to capture customers’ comments on your product range and respond to them, ensuring you meet their needs. This will lead to increased trust in your company and to repeat sales. Additionally, satisfied customers will recommend you to their friends, thus increasing your customer base.
- targeting – social media enables you to target specific groups, ensuring you get the most out of your marketing spend.
Social media is now an integral part of any eCommerce activity. Businesses that ignore this fact are in danger of losing sales to competitors. Take some time to plan how your company may benefit from using social media and watch your online sales grow.
Rubious is a leading web design and marketing agency based in Ipswich, Suffolk, contact us to discuss any of your social commerce needs.