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Ecommerce Evolution: From Stores To Platforms

Ecommerce is changing. Not just the shopping carts, graphics, layouts, or best practices. The platforms, the very way that people are buying and selling goods and services, are beginning to take on new characteristics. These new models are less dependent on brand recognition, than lifestyles, scarcity, and fulfilling a niche.

One such platform that has emerged is email ecommerce. A few retailers have managed to turn what is usually considered spam into brand utility. The retailer, Gilt Group, is an exclusive, online version of the invitation-only New York Sample Sale. By offering luxury items at insider prices, they have cultivated a niche market without resorting to bottom basement tactics on the web. Another example is Groupon, and its myriad of clones, which instead of fulfilling a niche, have used the same email marketing tactics to embrace the social aspects of the web. Many people who use the popular service are unaware of or have forgotten that the deals actually depend on group participation, and aren't guaranteed. Just as customers reach the tipping point to earn savings, so has this once annoying and abused medium has now reach a new point of actual utility.

Another alternative to the traditional store to emerge is the embedded platform. These take advantage of lifestyles in order to influence purchases. Platforms such as iTunes, Nike+, Kindle, the aforementioned Gilt Group, and a number of proprietary branded applications make purchases more organic because they become a part of a person's daily life. Whenever a person thinks “Hey, I need X, Y, or Z,” it is now readily available at their fingertips, with less thought and more feeling involved.

As the Internet continues to grow and become a greater part of our lives no matter where we are or what we’re doing, so will the tactics used to keep our attention. As far as ecommerce goes, the best platforms to emerge will not only understand the trends of technology, but the human mindset. They will become more than just boring a website, a message automatically sent to spam, or an easily forgotten and deleted app, but a lifestyle choice that brings the experience full circle for customers and companies alike.

Written by Ken Hammond on February 8, 2011

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Ken says:

There is an argument that these platforms do hurt some retailers. However, they often are a form of promotion that make people more aware of the service or product. I know I've used Groupons at restaurants I would not have tried otherwise, and have become a repeat customer. Retailers such as Gilt Group do offer special deals, but often these are items that are being discounted across retail platforms, and only available for a very limited time for a select group of people.

Provence says:

Yes but at the expense of all their other retailers who have to sell at the normal price.

Written by
Ken Hammond