Hi, My name is Dorie Moore and I am currently enrolled at North Seattle College in the Administrative Assistant Program and will graduate in spring of 2015. My interests include marketing, real estate sales and service, psychology, law, and metaphysics. I love the outdoors, hiking, camping, and animals of all types.
Hot Trends for E Commerce in 2014
E Commerce is rapidly changing and the top three trends to emerge from the myriad of possibilities to gain market share are increased Mobile shopping improvements, personalization, and the rise of social-network-type sharing. Retailers using traditional marketing methods are being out-paced by the online channels merchants can now access using the internet and technology to sell their products to the consumer.
On Black Friday, some 4o% of online shopping occurred using a mobile device and the era of inefficient mobile apps received its death knell. The trend is moving rapidly to faster load times, less browsing options, lower down times for pages, higher availability and ease of navigation with simpler layouts using less clicks to conversion. The mobile screen is small and it will be necessary for e-tailers to pay closer attention to the space they use, or consumers will be turned off, abandon their shopping carts without purchasing a thing to a more user-friendly site.
With more people using their smartphones and tablets to shop, mobile advertising is on the rise with rich-media video ads and the like becoming more popular; targeting and pin-pointing the consumers’ individual needs and wants. Most people on mobile apps want to find what they are looking for quickly and move on to the next thing; particularly if they are on the move themselves! People like seeing their names and the items they have been looking for readily available on the customized ads of their smart devices. Tailoring and personalizing for the segmented, target audience is paramount, and valuing the customers’ time has become a high priority.
Segmentation and personalization is already happening, but it is being taken to the next level by encouraging these consumers to post blogs on the business’ website to share their experiences with the product and service. Unique, quality content in the form of long- content blogging and sharing among customers is moving the simple act of purchasing a good or service to new levels of “an experience” to be shared among friends and followers. These types of trends mimicking social media interactions, enhance the customer experience, which add value in the customers mind to the experience; and thereby create brand loyalty.
Social Networks and Online Communities:
- General Communities-collective online sites where people can shop, blog, post their interests, communicate with their friends or other like-minded people. Typically ad revenue based, pay per view, affiliate, cost per click, sometimes subscription-based, e.g. Vanguard.com
- Practice Networks-peer to peer site for professionals in a particular occupation such as the medical field where they share their expertise with each other, sponsorship, pay per view, subscription based revenue models, e.g. Swedish Hospital
- Interest Based Communities-specific shared interest groups, typically use subscription, cost per click (ad based), affiliate revenue models, e.g. Flyfisherman.com
- Affinity Communities-shared intention of building a body of knowledge around a topic or interest, sponsorship, subscription model usually, e.g. Seattle Colleges.edu
- Sponsored Communities-online site where users may post entries regarding a particular subject that is paid for by a third party, such as movie reviews or local events, revenue model is sponsorship, Cost per click, and affiliate, e.g. All State Insurance Company
- Enterprise Portals-company or business specific website access to the intranet (internal) as opposed to the internet (external). Uses passwords and firewalls to protect company’s data; sometimes called a corporate portal, subscriber and affiliate revenue model, e.g. Delta.com
- General Purpose Portals-website or entry point to a specific field of interest on the internet. Contains search engine, email, links to other sites and personalized content, ad-based, cost per click, and pay-per-view revenue models, e.g. MSN.com
- Vertical Market Portals-specialized website that serves a specific industry or type of business such as jewelry or tools, subscription, cost per click and affiliate revenue models, e.g. Craftsman.com
- Affinity Groups-a online collection of people with a shared interest, goal, or vision usually non commercial and decentralized, subscriber, affiliate or sponsorship revenue models such as a political party, PTA group, or horseman’s club
- Focused Content Groups-a small number of people brought together using a moderator to share their opinions/research or ideas on a specific topic , product, or question to gain insights not generally found in the public at large; subscriber, affiliate, sponsorship revenue models, e.g. Boeing Aircraft Company asking for pilot input on a design feature
E Commerce is rapidly changing and the top three trends to emerge from the myriad of possibilities to gain market share are increased Mobile shopping improvements, personalization, and the rise of social network sharing. Retailers using traditional marketing methods are being out-paced by the online channels merchants can now access using the internet and technology to sell their products to the consumer.
On Black Friday, some 4o% of online shopping occurred using a mobile device and the era of inefficient mobile apps received its death knell. The trend is moving rapidly to faster load times, less browsing options, lower down times for pages, higher availability and ease of navigation with simpler layouts using less clicks to conversion.
With more people using their smartphones and tablets to shop, mobile advertising is on the rise with rich media video ads and the like becoming more popular; targeting and pin-pointing the consumers’ individual needs and wants. Most people on mobile apps want to find what they are looking for quickly and move on to the next thing. Tailoring and personalizing for the target audience is paramount and valuing the customers’ time has become a high priority.
Segmentation and personalization is already happening, but it is being taken to the next level by encouraging the consumer to post blogs on the business’ website to share their experiences with the product and service. Unique, quality content in the form of long content blogging and sharing among customers is moving the simple act of purchasing a good or service to new levels of “an experience” to be shared among friends and followers. These types of trends mimicking social media interactions enhance the customer experience, adding value in the customers mind to the experience, and thereby creating brand loyalty.
A decision of the US Supreme Court passed in March of 2012 has forever changed the way online and catalog businesses conduct their daily affairs. Called the Marketplace Fairness Act (MFA), it is an attempt to even-out the playing field between the sales of online ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores at local levels by requiring all state and local sales taxes be collected at the point of purchase. Online retailers, regardless of size, would now be liable to collect the applicable taxes and remit these revenues to the state where the consumer resides. Touting, “A Sale is a Sale,” these online merchants would be responsible for compliance to multiple jurisdictional tax codes and subject to audits from the 45 states who currently mandate that taxes are due on any sales . In May 2013 the US Senate voted to approve the MFA by a 69-27 vote, which means that this measure currently standing before the US House Judiciary committee has the potential to raise the cost of goods to the consumer by 4-10% overall.
Most online businesses aren’t giants like Amazon. They are entrepreneurial micro businesses which operate in very specialized areas and have to do everything they can to cut overhead. They are the breeding ground of the next great businesses which will grow our economy and are already the strongest area of retail growth area in the nation.
In 1992, the US Supreme Court had ruled that online business was similar to mail order business and states had no right to collect taxes from retailers where the retailer had no ‘nexus’ or physical presence; be it office or store. Some legislative opponents in Congress believe this new bill may now be in violation of the basic fundamental rights in the US Constitution of due process. It appears the MFA legislation is poorly drafted and leaves many areas of the law vague, citizen privacy issues open to scrutiny, and even hurts healthy competition between states. Discussions among the House Representatives are attempting to define and streamline the process of collecting due taxes utilizing a two tiered system whereby the states can adopt either Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSUTA), or simplification mandates included in the bill. Small business with annual revenues of $1million must pay taxes. However, even the disparity of whom the bill impacts is subject to debate; e.g. the MFA defines a small business as having $1 million in annual revenue, whereas the common definition used by the Small Business Administration defines a small business as having closer to $30 million in annual revenues.
Overall the bill is flawed, and definitely hurts the small business owners, giving the edge in competition to the big box stores who can hire the people they need to fight off audits from the states who feel they are owed taxes. Our economy needs small businesses to be healthily growing and prospering, not stunted by another badly drafted tax bill.
When arguing whether taxes should be collected from online retailers like Amazon, my initial reaction was to be against collecting taxes for very selfish reasons; I like to get the best price possible. Without the added burden of another 9.5% in taxes, it is like getting a real deal, plus the companies involved in online retail sales will deliver right to your door, usually for free! It doesn’t get any better than that, which is probably why so many consumers nowadays are opting for this fantastic way to shop. Ecommerce is a booming industry and it doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon. The Marketplace Fairness Act seeks to level the playing field between local retailers and the online retailers both large and small. It will require online and catalog retailers to begin collecting taxes at the point of purchase just like it does for local businesses, and hand that money over to the state coffers. According to the general information handout, states rely on those taxes for about 20% of the operating budget. It has been said that states have lost over $23.3 billion in tax revenues, which could be used to benefit its residents in ways like supporting education, local services, building and repairing infrastructure. Many state and city governments are already at serious bankruptcy edges. With property owners and local businesses largely footing the bill; it only seems fair that some of these funds come from the consumers who are buying products over the internet while enjoying the knowledge that the police or fire department is there when they call. No one likes to pay taxes, but that is a small price to pay to live in a civilized society.
States will have the option on how to collect the taxes and not be required to adhere to a rigid formula. Even the ecommerce retailers will have some advantages in that if their annual revenues do not exceed $500,000, they will be exempt from collection. It will be up to the states to decide how to proceed, but these revenues rightly belong to the state. As residents of the state, each consumer should contribute his or her fair share to the operating expenses. One of the biggest fears for online retailers is that sales will plummet and their businesses will suffer. According to Shopify, 75% of polled consumers between the ages of 18-25 say they will buy less online and more in the stores. That outcry seems like a child throwing a tantrum. We consumers love to shop and shopping online is so much easier than going to the mall, fighting traffic, and still not seeing all the choices in one store. No, ecommerce is here to stay and we may as well get used to the fact that living in our abundant society has a price. We have to pay our share of taxes!
Those sidebar ads when you are trying to find out what your friends are doing on Facebook. Do you really want to see those? Whether you are for or against social media advertising, the real question for businesses, is it cost effective for the advertising dollar? The good news is that most of this type of advertising is free, the bad news is that very little revenue is generated because of it. In fact according to analysts, less than 1% of the people who see the ad click on it to start the conversion process. Good for business? Maybe. If you consider that a static advertising billboard of years past probably did no better, but consistently placed the name of the product or company in the public awareness.
Social media has become the number one pastime of activity on the web overtaking pornography according to one site. With all this free exposure, why is it not more effective? Because it is everywhere and free , people expect more and find instead that they are constantly being bombarded with noisy ads and constant shouting, which can be extremely annoying. People log on to social media for an experience, or to share something, not to be sold a product. When the content of their experience is lacking it is a big turn-off. According to Bernie Borge, of www.findandconvert.com, content driven advertising needs to fill and deliver on the three “E’s,” educate, enlighten, or entertain, or it is considered a waste of time.
It seems the only way this form of advertising can become more effective is by changing and evolving into something useful to the consumer. This form of segmentation, appeals directly to the demographics of the individuals being marketed to by anticipating their search using analysis of preferences through their “likes” and online clicks. Some of the more inventive companies are now trying serial content movies and gaming contests to fully utilize the immediate delivery of social media platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Google. Like it or not, social media advertising is here to stay. And as the advertising world continues to fine tune and hone into each consumers’ individual desires, it appears that no one will escape their latest campaigns. But at least the possibility exists that now we can enjoy being shown something we may actually be interested in buying.
Many people use the internet for selfish reasons, be it monetary gain, information gathering, or pure mischief. This is why internet security is so important to ecommerce as there are now so many people actively buying and selling on the internet, and exchanging sensitive data on a regular basis. Political parties want to know what the other party is doing and they commit their crime of hactivism to find out. Spoofing occurs when someone pretends to be someone else by using their email or IP address. Pharming is when a website is compromised and made to look exactly like the real one, thus obtaining the valued information they seek from the consumer. By using public key encryption, websites can securely exchange information with the consumer and know that these are real orders that will not be denied later (nonrepudiated) by the consumer.
The newest form of payment is called the bit coin (BTC) started in 2009 by a software developer as an experimental, decentralized, digital currency that has had some moderate successes worldwide as a form of peer-to-peer currency. There is no central banking authority and 21 million are forecasted to be the total amount ultimately created; thus, the dollar value of the current 11 million in circulation continues to fluctuate wildly. The good or bad news is that once this level is reached there will be no more. The concept behind this creation is that anything people accept as form of payment can be tracked and used as money or currency, as long as people believe that form to have value. BTC resides on your computer in the form of digital encryption that uses a private key to be able to access. Think of points in a video game that cannot be used again, but can be transferred. BTC uses cryptography, or a digital block-chain which cannot be duplicated and is irreversible. It is created by people using computers to solve complex mathematical problems and having their solutions rewarded by receiving 25 BTC. These transactions are publicly logged and recorded on a multi-computer network that keeps track of these block-chains in a users’ digital wallet anymonously.
This virtual currency has the advantage of being able to be spent easily over the internet with little more than a few keystrokes, but also has the disadvantage to be used for illegal purposes as BTC cannot be easily traced to the user. Governments are concerned that the transactions paid for in BTC are not being taxed properly so the future of this digital currency is uncertain. If you are a gambler, this looks like a good investment as the new world currency. But no one knows the future. If the governments cannot collect their taxes, they will do everything in their powers to not support this new currency. The BTC is definitely in its experimental stages, but if enough people get on board the concept, the sheer power of the masses in each country could be the overwhelming tipping point.
How does the thought of handling no cash for a week or so sound to you? With the promise of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology this possibility may be closer than you think. Imagine being able to go about your normal day; buying coffee at Starbucks, driving your car across a toll bridge, entering a secured parking lot into a secured building, selecting a few snacks from a vending machine, doing a little online shopping at lunch, buying dinner out, attending a concert, and stopping at the grocery store without ever taking your wallet out to pay. Sound like a dream? It is closer than you think, as long as you have your smartphone handy equipped with NFC technology in place.
NFC utilizes radio frequency technology to identify you and track your purchases by merely waving your smartphone in front of the reading device on the other machine within 4 centimeters, about one and a half inches away! There is no need for a credit card or cash as all your information is contained on a tag inside your smartphone. NFC tags are typically “read” and activated by the close proximity of the other machine in the transaction and this simple action can identify you, your shopping preferences, which route you like to travel home and even personalize your coffee experience while waiting on the subway platform. The convenience and freedom of not carrying cash or credit cards has a price however; this little device contains basic confidential information and could be subject to theft or loss. Just as a purse or wallet can be stolen, anyone with your cell phone could conceivably imitate you with access to all your accounts, and hangouts, including where you work. It has been called the “mobile wallet” by some in the mobile communications industry, whereas the financial industry prefers the term “digital wallet,” as it can and should be able to be used over any device if the security issues can be addressed successfully.
The trend now is to support the use of NFC technology by anchoring its use in Cloud security adding encryption and another level of authentication. It is recommended that the owner of the smartphone place more than one means of personal identification, such as a fingerprint in addition to a password to identify the real owner from someone who has merely “borrowed the phone.”
The possibilities are endless for new uses of this technology which is already taking place in Europe and a similar version popular in Japan. In over 150 countries worldwide, people are using their smartphones to turn on alarm systems in their homes, pay bills, access information from NFC enabled signs, attend events by using their phones and even exchange business cards electronically. This technology is the wave of the future and with a 30% growth over the last year alone, promises to become a standard feature on all smartphones.
This month one of the most dangerous bugs was discovered, even though this little cyber-criminal has been out already and roaming around our computers for nearly two years! This beast is capable of stealing your name, passwords, and credit card information without you or your server even knowing a breach was taking place. Like a ninja warrior entering a palace in the dark of night, your security can be compromised while innocently checking your bank balance or weather on Yahoo, seeing what others are looking at on Pinterest, or blogging on Tumblr. Two-thirds of the servers use Open Secure Socket Layers and Transport Layer Security commonly called open SSL and TSL which allow for exchange of information between two computers. This has been the industry standard for the secure exchange of information. What makes this bug so damaging is that it will send back a random 64 kilobyte of information in response to a simple “heartbeat” request, so any information contained before or after the request is now readable and can be compromised by the burglars. True, this block of information can be meaningless trivia, but what if it contains your bank account numbers and password?
It has even been linked to a breach in Canada where 900 citizens had their Social Insurance Agency numbers stolen and in another case, someone else had impersonated the CEO of a large company. For the regular consumer doing business over the internet, this has chilling consequences for fraud and theft, not only of ones’ personal identity; but also of his or her financial resources of a magnitude unknown in history thus far.