Amazon, Apple, Coca-Cola, Google, Starbucks … the list could go on when you are considering brands that have their thumb on exactly how to compete, and win, in the world of e-commerce.
While these are the brands to be reckoned by today’s standards, they were not always on top. The evolution of .com path to purchase was long by today’s standards of online innovation, but created a whole new world and thought process when it comes to selling online.
2006-2007: E-Commerce, The Pre-Teen
The concept and execution of e-commerce had been around since the 90s, but as the growing demand for online consumer goods rose, so did the sophistication of the .com path to purchase.
By 2006, competitors Google, Ebay and Amazon started to vie for online checkout dominance, while Apple revolutionized the way consumers searched and purchased online with the release of the iPhone.
- Google Checkout debuted in the e-commerce industry
- eBay launched “eBay Express” as a faster alternative to its auction listings
- Apple launched the iPhone – full mobile Web browsing, apps etc.
- The first few businesses stepped into the social sphere with Facebook brand Pages
- SEO stepped further into the spotlight as businesses realized the “free” options for advertising
By the Statistics
- In December 2006, 74 percent of shoppers left a website without completing their purchase
- U.S. retail e-commerce reached $127 billion, an 18.4 percent gain over the previous year (2006)
- E-commerce sales only accounted for 3.4 percent of total sales
2008-2009: E-Commerce, The Teenager
By 2008, with the popularity of social sites, brands begin to jump into a new form of e-commerce – social commerce. Along with starting to create a socially influenced path to purchase, many domestic U.S. brands begin to cater to international consumers with expanded online buying options and mobile friendly websites.
- Amazon pushed further into mobile with TextBuyIt (2008)
- More brands ventured into social media e-commerce apps on Facebook Pages
- U.S. businesses started to see opportunities for foreign online customer base
- Mobile commerce: 70 million U.S. users accessed the Internet from their mobile phone (2009)
By the Statistics
- U.S. retail e-commerce reached $145 billion, a 2.1 percent gain over the previous year (2008)
- E-commerce sales only accounted for 3.6 percent of total sales
2010 – 2011: E-Commerce, The College Student
Social deal sites like LivingSocial and Groupon buy up the industry after a few weak years in the e-commerce industry. Brands begin to integrate more heavily into social sites and adjust the path to purchase to include social discovery.
Platforms like Pinterest and Instagram help brands better facilitate the discovery phase of the path to purchase. Finally, mobile penetration reaches a critical level in 2010, giving brands a push into m-commerce.
- Facebook displayed 1 trillion ads in 2010
- Social discovery became part of the path to purchase with the release of Pinterest in March 2010 and other sites like Instagram, FoodSpotting and Polyvore.
- Sixty-five percent of mobile users bought merchandise via their tablet in 2011
- Almost 4 percent of all online purchases were done through mobile devices by the end of 2011
By the Statistics
- U.S. E-commerce reached $165.4 billion an 14.8% gain over the previous year (2010)
- E-commerce sales only account for 4.2 percent of total sales
2012 – E-Commerce, Maturing past the Desktop
Social discovery spreads rapidly in early 2012 with brands heavily adopting Pinterest and other social discovery tools to further help consumers naturally discover product to purchase methods.
M-commerce cements it staying power as mobile Internet usage jumps when smartphones flood the mobile market. Meanwhile, Facebook releases a game changer with Open Graph technology – a way for consumers to socially share their wants and product obsessions with their online friends.
- M-Commerce breaks down the doors – U.S. mobile penetration surpasses 50 percent
- Mobile social referral traffic is still less than 1 percent, but traffic from mobile Pinterest as well as Facebook has increased steadily in the last six months
- Pinterest owns 1.05 percent of all Internet referral traffic, overtaking Twitter and YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ combined
As brands pursue more social methods to convert potential consumers to confirmed buyers, the trend of mobile commerce can only grow alongside social discovery. Going into the second half of 2012, brands and their advocates will start to see thought leaders like Amazon and Starbucks navigating the following needs of consumers:
- A socially accessible 24/7 purchase funnel
- Consistently up-to-date technology
- A move from the traditional path to purchase to a socially influenced “discovery” funnel