e-Commerce Insights from Google’s Liz James

According to Internet Retailer, U.S. consumers will spend more than $250 billion online this year, and more than $325 billion by 2016. Forrester projects retail e-Commerce to grow at an annual 10% compound rate through 2017. To say that e-Commerce is booming would be an understatement.

And to make sense of current trends and best practices in retail e-Commerce, Catalyst interviewed Liz James, Agency Account Executive, at Google. Liz has an insider’s perspective on the e-Commerce landscape, with a portfolio of 60 agencies and advertisers with whom she’s currently working.

What are some of the key e-Commerce trends that you are seeing today?

[Liz James] If you look at sales volume over the last few years, many retailers have done quite well online. However, when we look at the retail market as a whole, approximately 92%-94% is still done offline.

E-commerce has changed the way users online interact with brands and stores. Many consumers do their research online, but then they often transition into the store to complete their purchase. True retail success is not as much about the transactions online, it’s more about education throughout the purchase process and thus connecting to the users where they are every day. There’s opportunity for enhanced online education throughout the purchase cycle by many retailers in the market, and more and more retailers will start to capitalize on this opportunity over time.

Channels play different roles in the customer journey

What are some of the most common missteps and mistakes that companies are currently making with e-Commerce?

[Liz James] What a lot of companies mistakenly do is treat e-Commerce as a separate business in a silo. When you look at retail e-Commerce, though, in reality it’s just an extension of the same brand that consumers are used to seeing and visiting when they come to your physical store. When you treat e-Commerce as a separate business run by a separate part of your organization, what tends to happen is that the experience online is not necessarily on brand or on message with the experience you have in-store. What you get is ‘seams’ between these two experiences.

For example, if I go and buy something online, I should be able to return it in the store. That should be a positive experience that the brand offers me AND an advantage to the brand in having both an online and offline presence. When the online and offline brand experiences are disconnected, there’s less integration and that’s a lost opportunity to build business.

The Journey Days and Steps to Purchase

What’s the importance of social media integration in e-Commerce?

[Liz James] E-commerce has really caught a lot of people off guard in the retail world. Many consumers do their research online, so it is very important to capture that audience in the ‘research’ phase of their purchase cycle. Sixty-five percent (65%) of consumers use social media as a channel in their e-Commerce journey. By integrating social media platforms into their consumer touchpoints, retailers can increase their market share of those researching online and buying offline. The consumer doesn’t think about this in terms of ‘e-Commerce’ and commerce. They think of it as simply, “I’m going to go shop.”

Different e-commerce channels

What’s New & What’s Next in e-Retail

To learn additional e-Commerce insights from Liz, join us at Catalyst’s “What’s New & What’s Next in e-Retail” event on November 6 at the Legal Harborside in Boston. The event, which runs from 5:30 to 8:30pm, will feature Liz’s presentation “The Hottest Things Google is Working On Right Now – Google & the Future of e-Commerce”. Liz will be joined by Millward Brown Digital’s Matt Pace, who will give the presentation “The Impact of Mobile on the Consumer Path to Purchase.” Click here to learn more and register for the event!

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