E-tailing or E-retailing has now grown to extraordinary dimensions and highly-profitable juncture since its humble beginnings. In comparison to other online activities like search engine use and social media, e-tailing needs more than a digital interface in order to succeed. A dependable delivery system, a POS (point-of-sale) system that can handle any number or orders, availability, variegated inventory, re-routing supply chains, these are all some of the elements of e-tailing that took much time to evolve and still have a long while to go. Even customer behaviour is slowly changing from rigidly purpose-oriented to impulse-buying, experimentation and recommendations.
Rise in the use of Escrow. Escrow is the business agreement in which funds are placed in trust by one party, and released conditionally after a service or product is delivered by another. The use of escrow had been in businesses since times immemorial. But the retail significance of this complicated payment model involving three or more parties had been rather downplayed. In e-tailing, however, platforms for freelance service providers take care of the Escrow transactions, giving writers, programmers, graphic designers and other brands of new age freelance professionals the freedom to choose, while guaranteeing payments. In addition, the customer can also be safe in the knowledge that he will get his money back unless and until he is fully satisfied with the service provided. Even some product-based websites, especially customization and niche related, tend to provide escrow service where the funds will be secure until the delivery had been made and all the requirements had been met.
Escrow requires a different mode of communication to both the end parties. Sometimes web service providers use two different websites for freelancers and customers, the first in which orders can be taken and delivered and the latter consisting of customer relations where orders can be placed and payments made along with giving feedback.
Here, the sender and receiver are both operating in the environment provided by the service provider, the message going through the support team to the other website where the customer has his account, that the job has been accepted (although in some cases, the same website provides different platforms). Even the files shared, the information sought and feedback given passes through the manually overseen middle-ground of the service provider. There is a high chance of noise for this reason, as the service provider has the right to mitigate communication between the two parties or even modify it.
The tools required for this buy/sell behavior to thrive are reliable online money transaction providers, separate GUIs for customer and freelancer and a detailed and automated screening processes for the deliveries made (checking for plagiarism in case of writing, for example). Another point of concern for the sender in this e-tailing model is that while messages with the ‘purpose’ related to the project in hand might be easily allowed to pass, other purposes like garnering customer loyalty or striking a conversation might not be allowed to thrive between the sender and receiver by the mediating party.
The rise of Escrow business model has given and continues to give to the online community any number of opportunities to earn money or seek customized services for costs way lower than an outside agency will charge.
Testimonial based sales. In every e-commerce website, one of the features prominently displayed are the customer reviews or testimonials. Giving and reading testimonials or feedback after a product has been bought has become a common practice among many e-shoppers. While it is fulfilling to share the experience of a new purchase with other people on the right platform, it is also beneficial for the e-tailing outlet to proudly highlight the good reviews in order to increase the element of trust on the virtual interface.
The environment for the increasingly review-oriented consumer behaviors is the e-tailer’s website itself. While there could be other areas like specifically review providing websites, consumer forums and product manufacturer websites also serving as the environment for customer feedback, there is an eco-system that thrives on its own in the vendor platform where multi-brand products and variegated services are listed.
The content of the message is usually textual, depending on the environment. Some e-tailer platforms are video-testimonial conducive, with other options like import of Facebook and social network comments and shares, expert opinions, etc. The technology and tools consist of nothing but user friendly GUIs and the receiver (intended by the e-tailer) is new customers, returning customers or window shoppers. Some people do a lot of research before making a purchase and for these kinds of customers, the reviews and testimonials offer first-hand knowledge and reliable information. The receiver’s feedback also comes in the way of a testimonial, assuming he or she was persuaded to buy the product after reading one of the testimonials. However, in case, this new customer is in disagreement with earlier opinions, he might be adding noise to the environment and the next generation of receivers will be affected by it.
E-commerce is, in its latent meaning, an end-user oriented phenomenon. The fact that people are not only buying freely in the virtual arena, but are coming back to the same place to initiate discussions or share opinions, is a behavior that cannot be supported elsewhere and is highly conducive to progressive business model implementations.
Group purchasing. Group purchasing, or coupon-based buying is another behavior that is slowly coming to form in e-tailing. In the e-tailer’s website, the customer is given an option to buy a product or service at a specific price or he is offered a discount in case he can rope in more interested buyers from his own friends or acquaintances. Unlike the other two behaviors listed above, group purchasing is predominantly a traditional shopping behavior seen in malls, during sale seasons, in travel agencies, restaurants and other service-providing outlets where social experience is not pushed, but sought. In the online arena though, group purchasing behavior needs a secure, reliable environment where sharing and conversing is possible within the preset of more-value-for-less-money.
To induce the enthusiasm into customers, the environment needs to be exciting and alive, with constant interactions between sender and receiver. The sender, namely, the e-tailing outlet, can choose for this purpose, the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to keep the customers up to date about the newest deals with liberal use of new media like flash presentations, interactive advertising, surveys and inforgraphics, funny messages, etc. On the other hand, the receiver must be able to offer feedback about his own requirements which should be considered. The noise in this environment will be caused by the number of customers involved in one purchase. While some might be satisfied, others might not, and this might give out an ambiguous outlook to the deal or product offered for group purchasing.
Group purchasing must be encouraged in e-commerce as it is the only way to bring people together into a unified online shopping experience. A group that once received a successful delivery of an experience, will seek out the e-tailer for their future group activities, thereby exponentially increasing the sales and popularity of a particular web enterprise.
Persuasive message. The best way to persuade an audience in the online arena is to liberally use strong language, to provide satisfaction guarantee and giving the product or service the outlook of an opportunity that cannot be missed. Below is a sample persuasive message intended for the newsletter subscribers of a travel e-agent.
Remember all those summers for which you planned and planned and then got tired of planning? This summer, leave it all to us, at TravelEasy and slip into the itinerary with the ease of a pro-footballer. Kick the heat with scuba diving in the virgin islands of Hawaii, make sun-bathing a fun social activity, not a chore, while sipping margaritas in the white beaches, surf, frolic, go shopping, host evenings with friends and do whatever you like, while we organize, renting and book, plan and research for every day you decide to stay with us.
Come with numbers and avail big discounts! Your friends will thank you forever for finding them this great deal. Take all the credit and let us do all the worrying. You will not regret this and neither will your friends.
Don’t part with your cash until the fun actually begins. We know you are bombarded with offers this summer and it’s really hard to decide. Let us make this too, an easy decision on you. Don’t pay us until you have actually reached your summer destination and like it! No, not like. Love it! They say, there are no guarantees for love, but our verified Escrow provider can help you make that exception. Your money will be in your hands until you have received everything you were promised. Conditions apply*.