Ways E-commerce Can Provide Services For Its Customers
With the advent of the internet and on account of its ubiquitousness, many businesses around the world are scrambling to establish an online presence for themselves. New businesses are choosing to forgo traditional brick-and-mortar stores in favour of e-stores altogether. Hence, e-commerce is a sector that is rapidly becoming one of the primary uses of the web.
How e-commerce is providing value to customers in business?
There are many ways e-commerce can be beneficial for not only businesses but also customers shopping online. It helps businesses cut down on several costs, both fixed and variable, such as by reducing the costs of keeping an inventory and maintaining a servicescape. To a great extent, adopting an e-commerce model also allows businesses to cut down on labour costs, e.g., reduced need for in-store staff. However, arguably the party that benefits the most from businesses using e-commerce is the customer.
Having access to information about all the products offered by a business and even those of its competitors gives the customers higher bargaining power. This means that customers’ needs and wants are a much more vital consideration now than it has been in the past. No longer can companies produce products that meet the bare minimum requirements and offer no augmented value to customers. To step up their game and keep up with the competition, businesses use the many utilities of the internet to engage with their target audience on much more personal levels.
Walmart.com ships out samples without the customer’s knowledge based on data and purchases while shopping online, which is a genuine surprise to the consumer (Taylor, 2020).
What is E-Commerce sampling?
An engaging way customers stand to benefit from e-commerce is by getting access to e-commerce or cyber samples. As the name suggests, cyber samples refer to the free samples of products that sellers include in shipments being made to buyers (Farsiyabi, 2021). For instance, a customer purchases a makeup product from Ulta or Sephora online. The retailer will include a small sample of a new product launched with the shipment, e.g., a complexion product, just as it would offer in its physical stores. The purpose of cyber sampling is to allow the target customer to get a feel of the product for themself before committing to an online purchase.
How effective is sampling?
This can incentivize a purchase decision from the customer, thereby increasing a business’ conversion rates and creating a lasting relationship of trust between the e-tailer and customers. Cyber sampling is much more affordable than traditional sampling because it eliminates the costs of setting up events, stalls, and kiosks to hand out samples. As well as incur no direct shipping costs through inclusion with an already incurred cost of shipping the actual product(s) that the customer purchased.
Web making tangible, the intangible
Samsung company launched videos of unboxing their products such as Galaxy Z Fold2 to tell the impressions of the product virtually (Samgsung, 2020).
Perhaps one of the most significant benefits of e-commerce for consumers is that conducting business online enables companies to convert the intangible aspects of a product into tangible ones. The tangible properties of any product are possibly one the best quality cues that a customer looks for. These include product attributes such as the products’ feel, taste, smell, weight, etc. Ultimately, an amalgamation of these physical attributes of products contributes to how consumers perceive a business. However, often a product in and of itself may not be very effective in conveying the intended brand image of its company, especially when customers are interacting with the product and the business for the first time. This can be changed with the help of the internet because websites and social media pages allow companies to tell their stories virtually.
With the help of graphics, text, images, videos, etc., customers can perceive the quality of products much more accurately. For example, a customer may be teetering on the edge of a purchase decision about a power drill because they are unsure how it functions and satisfies their exact need. Purchasing the same product from an online retailer may allow the buyer access to video tutorials explaining the workings and use of the power drill. Having a proper understanding of the product will act as the final push a customer needs to purchase, increasing conversion rates for the company.
Innovations as customer participation
“Through its Open Innovation platform, launched in 2010, Unilever presents specific challenges to the public, encouraging individuals to submit responses for potential adoption by the company”(Livescault, n.d.).
When discussing the ways e-commerce can provide services for its customers, one can not overlook the critical role that the consumer plays in developing and improving the service of the online seller itself. Through real-time and continuous engagement with customers, such as co-creation, customer votes, ideas, and open innovation, businesses can access valuable insights from their audience, such as which functions to include in the planned product (Dissanayake, 2021).
According to Dissanayake (2021), “Customers will share their suggestions to improve the design, feedback on the proposed options as well as any alterations they wish to have, and much more. Open innovation helps a company to perfect the product at the design level and also learn what to expect related to consumer reactions when the product hits the market”.
How can customer feedback help a business?
This direct feedback from customers helps companies identify the existing gaps in the market and their services and fill said gaps with innovations and novel ideas. For instance, customer reviews left on sites such as Yelp or Google for a hotel or restaurant can be instrumental in identifying possible areas where service is lacking. Additionally, profiling customers using information from websites and social media allows companies to bring innovations in their value-creation process. This means that the innovation might not necessarily be part of the end product. Still, new and creative manufacturing processes or delivering services may be integrated to provide better customer value.
A great example of this is the customization of the product. Before the product reaches its final form, the customers personalise the product with a name, image, logo, text, etc. This tailored experience can increase satisfaction for the customers and ensure higher sales for businesses.
Check the following reference articles to learn more about the Ways E-commerce Can Provide Services For Its Customers:
- Dissanayake, C. (2021, May 19). How to use social media for product innovation. Netizen Me. (URL)
- Farsiyabi, S. (2021, June 4). E-Commerce & Digital Product Sampling – A Perfect Marriage. Package. (URL)
- Livescault, J. (n.d.). Customer Co-Creation examples: 10 companies doing it right-brained. Braine. Retrieved July 20, 2021, from (URL)
- Samgsung. (2020, September 1). Galaxy Z Fold2: BTS first impressions | Samsung (full ver.). (YouTube URL)
- Taylor, C. (2020, October 9). The time has come for E-Commerce sampling. Forbes. (URL)
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Articles with the “Netizen Me writers” byline are written by the netizenme.com writers team.