Growth in the e-commerce market has given customers a variety of avenues to acquire their favorite products. For businesses, however, it’s hard to analyze exactly where their sales come from and whether or not an online and brick-and-mortar presence can be mutually beneficial to future growth.
Consumers are moving toward a blend of offline shopping supplemented by a period of online research. While online sales have been on the rise, only 15 percent of Americans make purchases online on a weekly basis, according to a study from the PEW Research Center. About 45 percent of Americans have used a cellphone within a physical store in order to look at reviews or other product information. Consumers have long relied on the ability to get recommendations and reviews, hence the rise of websites like Yelp! and FourSquare.
On the other hand, some consumers are more skeptical than others when it comes to the validity of online reviews. According to the same PEW Research Study,48 percent of U.S. consumers believe it’s often hard to tell if online reviews are truthful and unbiased.Consumers more often than not will use websites to compare prices and products and then visit stores to get a reassurance of product quality before committing to a purchase. Even if shoppers don’t directly purchase from a website, businesses benefit from empowering their customers with the tools to do their own research and be confident in their purchase.
Such buying habits don’t necessarily adhere strictly along generational lines. A study conducted by RetailDive found 26 percent of U.S. adults frequently research products online prior to shopping for them in brick-and-mortar stores. The report then emphasizes the importance of a “compelling digital experience.” Certain things can improve the customer’s researching or shopping experience to create a seamless omni-channel shopping experience.
Dirxion online catalogs give businesses a strong tool to allow their customers to do their own research. The search feature allows users to find the exact product they’re looking for without having to search through tabs and pages of results. Dirxion’s integration capabilities can bring a business’s existing e-commerce website into the catalog. Customers are able to interact with linked images that open to Quick Views or iFrames of the e-commerce site. Customers can then read pictures, look through photos and even add to their cart without having to leave the online catalog.
Dirxion customer Barnett recently implemented the updated library search function, which allows customers to choose whether or not they want to search through their current catalog or the entire catalog. The previous version of the search feature would require two different tabs: one to search the catalog and a separate one to search through the entire library.
The library search feature was originally designed to streamline the catalog shopping experience. B2B e-commerce consumers respond positively to an easy-to-use shopping experience, raising the probability they’ll convert to a loyal consumer. According to E-Commerce B2B, 76 percent of customers say the most important factor in a website’s design is that “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.”
The updated bookshelf feature empowers consumers and aids them through the research process of B2B buying. Usability Geek describes the relationship between design and consumers as being “more focused around the content and information, making sure the user stays informed throughout their entire journey.” With the large quantities of data involved with B2B e-commerce, it’s important to implement features that allow new and seasoned consumers alike to navigate online catalogs with ease.
Product research has increasingly shifted online. Forrester estimates74 percent of B2B buyers research half or more of their work purchases online. But consumers aren’t just researching in a singular place. While Google remains the most popular option for purchase research, consumers will go to multiple points in the web to compare prices, products and other deciding factors. Empowering consumers and giving them the tools to conduct their own research in an easy-to-use and streamlined way increases the likelihood of converting new customers to returning, loyal ones.
Dirxion has consistently been the leading innovator in the online catalogs industry. As the first company to move their online catalogs to HTML5, Dirxion has since then never ceased to set precedents and industry standards for the online catalogs experience. With Dirxion features such as Quick View integration, minimal UI and, most recently, an improved library search, Dirxion has continued its tradition of industry revolution and the promise of delivering a personalized, on-brand online catalog.
The effects of e-commerce on the economy, specifically within the retail market, have remained little more than speculation for the past few years. Most theories on the future of e-commerce sit somewhere between a trend which will eventually pass and a period of the “retail apocalypse” which signifies an end for legacy retailers.
However, new studies have suggested that reality sits somewhere in the middle. While synergy between e-commerce infrastructures and existing business models lies within view, especially for B2B businesses, the future of the retail worker remains somewhat uncertain. Certain indicators and trends point towards new opportunities for both businesses and workers alike.
Often the spearhead of the e-commerce and automation movement, recent trends within Amazon indicate a growing number of e-commerce-related jobs specifically within distribution networks. Amazon currently deploys 100,000 robots and 125,000 employees in their factories with promises of opening 50,000 more jobs when their second headquarters finishes construction, according to the New York Times. Since increasing their automation with robots Amazon added 80,000 jobs with hopes the hiring frenzy will continue into the foreseeable future.
“No people were laid off when the robots were installed, and Amazon found new roles for the displaced workers.”
– Dave Clark, Operations Executive at Amazon
Trends tend to exercise themselves on a larger scale at Amazon mostly due to their size and expansive resources, e-commerce-related job growth isn’t exclusive to larger corporations. E-commerce retail jobs have grown by 334 percent and gained a net 178,000 jobs since 2002. E-commerce sales remain less than 10 percent of total retail, 8.9 percent as of Q2 2017, yet all trends point towards sustainable growth in the near future with opportunities for both businesses and workers.
Whether utilizing an established infrastructure or just starting to implement e-commerce, Dirxion offers tools and services for businesses of all types. The Dirxion online catalog gives businesses an opportunity to differentiate their shopping experience and engage in the omni-channel experience. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met. Dirxion online catalogs can be integrated into existing e-commerce platforms and live directly on a company’s website to ensure a seamless, optimized shopping experience for customers.
Near the beginning of its rise to prominence, e-commerce was seen as an “all or nothing” endeavor. Businesses were either entirely committed to a physical, retail presence or built their business around e-commerce. But as the platform has evolved, many businesses have achieved synergy by molding e-commerce to fit their existing business models in order to match the needs of their customers.
While both ends of the spectrum exist, the proportion of customers who make purchases exclusively in-store or online is relatively small and consumers have found a middle ground with their purchasing habits. According to an annual survey conducted by comScore, shoppers on average now make 51 percent of their purchases online. The percentage had slowly risen, sitting at 48 percent a year ago and 47 percent two years ago.
The evolution of e-commerce businesses began as direct delivery, but the market has split into three distinct forms: national shipping (i.e. Amazon), home delivery and pick-up in store. The adaption was spurred on as more retailers moved their inventory online. Consumer activity acted as an incentive for more retailers and businesses to create an online presence. According to the Harvard Business Review, online sales of everyday items, consumer packaged goods, more than doubled between 2006 and 2010. CPG online sales continued to grow by roughly 40 percent annually, reaching an estimated $10 billion in value according to 1010data Market Insights.
Businesses of all sizes have benefited from take an omni channel approach by converging their offline and online practices. Digital Commerce 360 recently published a profile on Tractor Supply Co., who saw a nine percent increase in their revenue from last year after implementing their “Buy Online Pick Up in Store” program. The program now accounts for roughly 55 percent of all their online orders, and increased the amount of unique visitors to their website and usage of their “Store Locator” function. “We are starting to see signs that the physical and digital sides of our business are working well together and support one another.” says Gregory Sandfort, CEO of Tractor Supply Co.
Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses the ability to tap into the rising consumer preference for the omnichannel shopping experience and serves as a complementary product to any e-commerce operation. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.
The United States Commerce Department recently announced U.S. e-commerce retail had grown by 16.3 percent during the second quarter, as reported by Digital Commerce 360. According to YCharts, a financial data research platform, e-commerce has grown within the United States as a share of total retail sales at a steady rate since the data was first recorded in 1999.
This recent growth is the largest increase for domestic retail e-commerce in five years, in which e-commerce sales have increased by 16.8 percent over the previous quarter. For over a decade, retail e-commerce sales in the U.S. have accounted for an increasingly larger proportion of total retail sales, currently sitting at 8.5 percent, according to YCharts.
Large corporations and industry-leading tech giants have accounted for a large majority of the retail e-commerce growth. For instance, in Q2 2017, Amazon accounted for 38 percent of the e-commerce growth in the U.S. Said corporations pioneered e-commerce technology such as the omni-channel shopping experience and in-store pick up to meld the physical and digital markets. Marginal profits have increased in companies that have implemented these practices and adopted aspects of their e-commerce platforms into their existing sales channels.
On average, retail e-commerce has become increasingly popular over the years, but the trend of growth isn’t exclusive to the United States. For instance, Digital Commerce 360 reported a similar trend for Canada in which, on a year-over-year average, Canadian retail e-commerce grew by 46 percent. China, the largest e-commerce market in the world, has seen one of the largest growths in the retail e-commerce market. The lack of developed legacy retailers coupled with the rise of dominant domestic e-commerce marketplaces such as Alibaba has lead to an explosion of e-commerce activity and development within the Chinese market. Such activity has prompted companies within the United States to increase their e-commerce presence to combat the increase of the international presence.
Dirxion online catalogs give retailers the tools to fully access the growth within the retail e-commerce market within the United States as well as within the international market. With Dirxion’s integration and compatibility capabilities, online catalogs live directly on an existing e-commerce website. Each catalog delivers an on-brand experience, interactive experience with SEO capabilities. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met.
In recent quarters, Walmart reported slowed growth for their e-commerce department. According to Business Insider, the legacy retailer went from 16 percent growth in the second quarter of last year to single digit growth for two straight quarters. Despite rebounding this quarter and online sales growing by 60 percent, according to Forbes, Walmart is looking for new ways to compete within the e-commerce market, especially considering new tech giants have begun crossing international boundaries and increased competition.
American corporations, which have long held market dominance, are finding Chinese tech giants pushing their way into prominence alongside names such as Microsoft, Apple and Amazon. Alibaba and Tencent, China’s largest tech corporations, have each reached values of $400 billion collectively, an accolade previously held exclusively by American corporations. According to Internet Live Stats, China has the largest population of Internet users with roughly 721 million accounting for over half of their total population. The United States ranks third, with roughly 286 million users, but representing 88 percent of the total population. Technology adaption rates have increased within the United States, especially among older generations.
“We’ve come to the point where China has finally caught up with the U.S. in the internet space,” –Hans Tung, managing partner at GGV Capital, 2017
In response to increasing competition in the international e-commerce market, Walmart sold their Chinese e-commerce company Yihaodian, according to Business Insider. Yihaodian was sold to JD.com, one of China’s leading e-commerce platforms, in exchange for a 5 percent stake in JD’s company. According to The New York Times, the Chinese economy grapples with a multitude of difficulties, including rising debt and a reliance on the steel industry.Despite this, Chinese technology and e-commerce businesses reported earnings in recent quarters that exceeded investor expectations. The Chinese retail e-commerce economy has grown without the influence and presence of legacy retailers, unlike in the United States. In China, and other undeveloped regions without legacy retailers, e-commerce platforms have taken hold and experienced unprecedented growth.
Dirxion online catalogs give both retail and B2B companies a tool to create an omni channel approach for their e-commerce businesses. Online catalogs eliminate shipping and printing costs and can be sent anywhere instantaneously. Dirxion online catalogs can support a variety of languages. For example, Dirxion customer Kennametal has a language toggle feature on their online catalogs to support languages such as French and Japanese. Dirxion online catalogs helps businesses to expand their content marketing into new markets previously unreachable, even in international markets while reinforcing relationships and sales routes in existing territories.
As the world becomes increasingly digitized and more personal information gets stored online, Americans have become more informed about cyber security risks. As concluded through various studies conducted by the PEW Research Center, Americans as a whole have become more skeptical of institutions holding their information and how secure it is. However, as security measures have increased over time, Americans have also had a harder time maneuvering through the complexities of modern cyber security.
In order to conduct the study, the PEW Research Center constructed an online survey and took results from a sample size of 1,055 adult Internet users living in the U.S. The survey includes 13 questions dealing with various aspects of cyber security, asking participants to either pick a correct question out of a field or identify pictures. If a participant feels they don’t know the correct answer they’re able to select “Not sure” in lieu of choosing an answer. The questions get progressively more complex and deal with more modern cyber security concepts. A substantial majority of Americans were able to correctly answer the first two questions, with 75 able to identify the most secure password (from a list of four options) and 73 percent knowing public Wi-Fi (even if password protected) is not always safe for sensitive activities.
While the percentage of participants who answered incorrectly fluctuated by answer, the “Not sure” option became increasingly popular. For instance, 73 percent of participants were unsure if a VPN minimizes the risk of using insecure Wi-Fi networks and 49 percent were unaware that a browser’s “private browsing” mode does not prevent ISPs from monitoring online activity. Despite difficulties identifying complex cyber security concepts, American consumers have become more skeptical and cynical of cyber security, with 49 percent of Americans feeling their personal information is less secure than it was five years ago. A recent history of security breaches has lead to this mentality, with 64 percent of Americans having personally experienced a major data breach. Six of the largest data breaches in history have occurred within the past decade.
Consumers provide some of their personal information when purchasing from e-commerce businesses including their home address and credit/debit card information, which has led to increasing levels of skepticism among American consumers. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration estimates nearly a fourth of U.S. consumers will completely avoid purchasing from an e-commerce business if they feel their personal information might be at risk.
Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses a versatile tool for their e-commerce branches. Online catalog users are protected by SSL/HTTPS for the CNAME or dedicated URL that a publication is hosted on. Doing so helps alleviate the risk of consumers questioning the credibility or safety of the site, providing a more comfortable shopping experience.
It was recently reported that in rural areas, 35 percent of Americans do not have access to the Internet (about 25 million Americans), according to CBS News. This is far greater than the 3 percent of citizens living in urban areas who don’t have Internet access. This gap remains in spite of federal courts declaring that Internet service is a utility similar to electricity and water.
The federal court’s ruling touched on the issue of net neutrality, the protection of consumers against Internet service providers throttling data delivery speeds. But the logistics of delivering high speed Internet to rural areas has proved difficult to many ISPs, leaving millions of Americans either without Internet access or with Internet well below FCC standards.
In rural areas, the population is traditionally more dispersed, which leads to homes and businesses that are located far away from ISP hubs. Fiber-optic cable used by ISPs can cost upwards of $40,000, according to CBS News, hindering the performance of businesses in the area and limiting consumer options. In response, the FCC has committed roughly $2 billion in subsidies to telecommunications companies to encourage expansion into rural areas. Local and state governments have also attempted to tackle the issue, often times introducing tax breaks and incentives to telecommunications companies to encourage competition in rural areas.
“It’s a challenge of economics, if you will — trying to get further out into the rural network with the density being more and more spread out, population being more and more spread out. It’s a challenge no matter what provider you are,” — Jarrod Berkshire, President of Operations at Windstream, 2017
The United States currently has the third largest number of Internet users (roughly 286 million), and ranks only behind India (462 billion) and China (731 million), according to Statista. However, as a percentage of the population, 88 percent of the U.S. population have access to the Internet whereas 35 percent of the Indian population and 52 percent of the Chinese population have access. The increasing percentage of Americans with access to Internet is connected to the growing rate of aging citizens adopting tech.
Dirxion online catalogs give businesses an opportunity to extend the reach of their business. By eliminating shipping and printing costs, Dirxion online catalogs help businesses to expand their content marketing into new markets previously unreachable. As consumers adapt technology at a faster rate, e-commerce continues to become an increasingly integral aspect to the economy in its entirety.
Consumers have reaped the benefits of the rise of e-commerce by capitalizing on its emphasis on speed, convenience and accessibility of information. Despite that growth, retail and physical store locations remain dominant due to their legacy status and long-term prominence in the economy. However, in regions where retail locations have yet to take hold, the effects and benefits of e-commerce reach a greater magnitude. The accessibility and reach of modern e-commerce systems make these regions accessible to businesses of all sizes, not just the largest players in the market.
India has become one of the most sought-after markets to capitalize on, with some of the largest international e-commerce businesses competing for market share. As one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world, India has seen an influx of e-commerce activity as Internet access and smartphone ownership grow in recent years. According to Statista, as early as 2015, only 26 percent of the Indian population had access to the Internet; however, that’s 10 times larger than it was nearly a decade ago. That trend is expected to continue, as Forrester predicts India’s compound annual growth rate will be over 30 percent until 2021.
E-commerce businesses have also begun to take stake in adjusting the retail experience to integrate online and offline logistics and data along a single chain. Chinese B2B e-commerce business Alibaba, who accounts for a tenth of all Chinese retail sales and 75 percent of online sales, has begun investing in unused retail space in Shanghai and has taken stake in other retail companies to provide big data capabilities to legacy retailers.
In many isolated incidences, smaller economies can outgrow larger economies in e-commerce. Chinese cities are categorized into tiers one to four, based on GDP, government structure and population data. E-commerce penetration for Tier 1 and 2 cities amounts to 89 percent as compared to Tier 3 and 4 cities, which is 62 percent. E-commerce businesses have been expanding their logistical and infrastructure capabilities in order to expand to these more rural markets.
“The online shopper base in Tier 3 and 4 cities is 257 million, a population number that is larger than that of almost all countries in the world (except India, China as a whole, and the United States). That is serious market potential.” — Sara Hsu, Forbes, 2016
Dirxion online catalogs give B2B businesses an opportunity to tap into the developing global e-commerce market. Businesses that fail to include and accommodate for an international market essentially choose to leave sales on the table. Dirxion online catalogs can support a variety of languages. For example, Dirxion customer Kennametal has a language toggle feature on their online catalogs to support languages such as French and Japanese. By eliminating shipping and printing costs, Dirxion online catalogs helps businesses to expand their content marketing into new markets previously unreachable, even in international markets.
For some retail companies, the rise of the Internet and the prominence of e-commerce has been an insurmountable challenge. Others have made changes to their company’s structure and adjusted resources to react toward the changing retail landscape and accommodate for a more online-orientated consumer base. Michele Buck, president and CEO of The Hershey Company, recently made announcements of the company’s big push into e-commerce and listing online retail as a major focus and an area of growth, as reported by Business Insider.
Physical retailers are now pressured to make advancements in e-commerce technology as the online and physical markets have begun to meld together. Amazon, one of the world’s leading e-commerce platforms, has made recent acquisitions and investments into the physical market and in doing so is disrupting the landscape. Competition from Amazon can harm even the biggest and most promising companies and IPOs.
“Right now, we’re focused on partnering with retailers and investing in capabilities to unlock growth for our brands online. I believe we are in a really good position to win in an omnichannel world. Todd Tillemans, President U.S., The Hershey Company, 2017
Investment in e-commerce, especially among the retail market, has been on the rise. Walmart, the largest retailer in the world, launched their brand new e-commerce branch “Store No 8,” which will work with startups that specialize in robotics, virtual reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence to expand the company’s e-commerce efforts. Investment in offering an omnichannel shopping experience has become an increasingly popular option for businesses of all sizes. A survey conducted by LinkedIn discovered 41 percent of business owners saw omnichannel will revolutionize the market.
While some businesses are of the belief that e-commerce will encompass the entirety of the retail experience,most people prefer in-store shopping in every product category aside from “Books,” “Consumer Electronics” and “Office Supplies.” But that’s not to say that business don’t benefit when e-commerce and the in-person retail experience work in tandem.Consumers have shown an increasing tendency to conduct research online in order to compare prices and products from multiple companies before making a final purchase in-store.
Dirxion online catalogs offer businesses the ability to tap into the rising consumer preference for the omnichannel shopping experience and serves as a complementary product to any e-commerce operation. Dirxion online catalogs are versatile and optimized with HTML5 to ensure cross-platform and multi-browser performance standards are met. Customers are armed with a strong tool to allow consumers to do their own research. The search feature directs users to the exact product they’re looking for without having to search through tabs and pages of results. Customers are able to interact with linked images that open to Quick Views or iFrames of the e-commerce site. Customers can then read pictures, look through photos and even add to their cart without having to leave the online catalog.