At Rock we are truly lucky to be immersed within a community of experts. Each individual has their own talent, opinion and knowledge. We decided that instead of writing what we thought of the world and the industries we all work in, why don’t we ask them?
This is part of our series of Q&A style articles that we hope will inspire you, educate you, and or empower you.
We asked Marcus Wincott from Media Lounge a little bit about e-commerce, technology and upcoming trends as well as some advice for those interested in getting into industry.
Rock: Thank you so much for being a part of this Marcus. I want to kick off with a bit of an open ended question and ask how has the world of e-commerce changed over the past few years?
Marcus: The biggest challenge for online retailers over the last few years has been offering a service that the typical online shopper has now come to expect. As shoppers, our expectations in terms of delivery, returns, personalisation, payment methods and communication have been set by the giants of eCommerce like Amazon and offering a comparable service or a unique differentiator can be difficult. Advancements in payment methods and personalisation of content and product recommendations have been key in the last few years and will continue to play a very important role in the success of online retail stores.
Rock: Have recent additions to apps like Instagram shopping made a huge difference in the way that people consume?
Marcus: Although the addition of buyable pins on Pinterest, Facebook marketplace and Instagram shopping functionality are interesting and will undoubtably work for some merchants, I’m not sure how big the direct impact on sales will be. As an industry we design for ‘mobile first’ as a rule but the fact is that the majority of online purchases still take place on a desktop device so mobile-heavy platforms like Instagram will have less of an impact on buying habits than we perhaps think.
Having said that, it’s well known that over 80% of smartphone users turn to their device to help them make a product decision, either in store on online so the impact on the entire journey to purchase is undeniable, it’s just whether that impact is easily measurable.
Rock: As an experience shopping and buying has become much more personalised and easy. How do you see the future of e-commerce panning out, how can we go further than paying for something with our fingerprint/facial recognition?
Marcus: Until new technology is developed that allows us to pay in other ways, I don’t think this will be the biggest area of change in the coming years although widespread merchant adoption of things like Apple, Android and Amazon payment methods is still to come. I think payment options rather than methods are still changing at quite a rate and ‘pay later’ and ‘split payment’ options will become more widespread with solutions like Klarna facilitating an Amazon-style, one click payment method across thousands of websites.
Personalisation of site content as well as product recommendations will continue to improve and eventually each user visiting an eCommerce store will get a completely different experience based on their personal circumstances, browsing history and buying habits.
Rock: There are many different types of e-commerce platforms, could you please give me a few examples and why it is that so many types have been developed?
Marcus: There are many different eCommerce platforms out there and put simply, this is to serve the needs of the merchant. An online retail startup would typically use a platform like Shopify or WooCommerce (WordPress) because of their ease of use and lower cost of entry. As a merchant grows, their requirements will change in order to service their customers and these platforms may no longer be fit for purpose. A larger retailer may turn to an enterprise solution such as Magento (Adobe), Hybris (SAP) or Demandware (Salesforce) as they offer scalability in terms of both order volume and site functionality. For example, a business retailing across multiple countries in multiple languages and currencies would not be suitable for a platform like Shopify.
Rock: If you were to give advice to someone that was looking to get into the eCommerce industry, what first steps should they take?
Marcus: Working in eCommerce from an agency perspective is as fast moving as it is interesting so the best piece of advice I can give to someone interested in taking their first steps not this industry is to constantly research and monitor the marketplace for new design trends, developing technology and best practices. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the competition and more importantly, add value and remain relevant to you clients.
One word of caution though, the noise about new technology can sometimes be distracting so always do your own evaluation and ideally, real-world testing before recommending a course of action for your clients. We’re lucky at Media Lounge to run our own successful eCommerce store so we have a ready made testing bed and it has proven invaluable over the years.
A huge thank you Marcus for giving us his time and knowledge about the world of eCommerce. We also delved into the topic of the importance of being unique, have a read here.