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Companies must offer complete shopping experience to maximize e-commerce

By Andrew McDougall , 25-Jan-2012
Last updated on 25-Jan-2012 at 17:20 GMT

Companies must offer complete shopping experience to maximize e-commerce

As spending in the e-commerce arena continually increases year on year, companies need to start utilizing all the platforms available to create an evolved shopping experience.

According to digital analyst comScore, spending in the e-commerce industry rose by 14 percent in the past year, representing the seventh consecutive year of growth in this area.

The figures, which reached $37.5bn during the second quarter of 2011, also highlighted the third year in a row when double-digit increases have occurred.

Opportunity to offer unique experience

Following the newly released results of the E-Commerce Hot Topic report by NPD, the market analyst believes this presents a great opportunity for brands to make sure they deliver a unique shopping experience to the consumer, as attitudes towards online shopping evolve.

“As we enter the second decade of e-commerce it becomes more important for retailers to use their online properties to offer an evolved shopping experience, a three-dimensional shopping experience,” explains Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group.

“That is to combine the two dimensions of Brick & Mortar, the ‘touch and feel’ with the ‘information and impulse’ of the online experience.”

Put your money where your mouth is

Convincing the consumer to go from browsing to purchasing takes new information beyond just product photos and price. Companies must convince the consumer to push the purchase button and this is where social media steps in.

“Popular is one thing, purchasing is another. With one out of every four online visitors saying they follow a retailer or brand, it’s up to them now to convert them to purchasers,” says Cohen.

“Social media continues to grow in importance for consumers. Social media should be an area where brands and retailers alike focus on connecting with the consumer. This is an area in which they can develop a relationship with consumers that will ultimately drive future growth.”

According to the NPD report, a quarter of online shoppers say they follow a retailer or brand on a social media site, with one in four also saying they shopped for a product online as a result of something they had seen on a social media site.

Time for beauty to up the stakes

With companies like Shiseido, Beiersdorf and Estée Lauder all turning to e-commerce and social media to engage the consumer, the platforms have become more valuable to the industry, but there is still a long way to go.

Daniel Latev, head of Non-Store Retailing at Euromonitor, explains that “beauty brands are gaining increasing prominence on social media; however these are still behind some other industries, especially fashion-led industries such as apparel, where brands are more active.”

“For beauty brands to gain more benefit out of social networks they need to embrace the key aspects of social media – sharing of information and actively engaging with users,” he told CosmeticsDesign.com.

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