While e-business describes a sea change in the way large companies are interacting with customers, most of us will be more affected by the technology revolution in more ordinary ways in our daily lives. Whether we are purchasing sporting equipment or sending flowers, the way we buy and sell all kinds of goods and services will never be the same.
In this new era, just about everything is changing positively for the consumer. First online retailers are offering us greater convenience, and wider variety in items as diverse as books, CD’s, DVD’s, toys, travel, etc..But the advantage doesn’t stop with convenience. Online retailers are offering lower prices, more information at the point of purchase, and personalized shopping experiences to all of us wherever we live and at any hour of the day or night.
Even though there are still many uncertainties about this online revolution, there are clear characteristics that we can look at that will determine who will survive in this industry. The winners must all create three important outcomes: (1) They must attract consumer traffic. (2) They must convert the browsers to buyers. (3) They must sell merchandise or services without giving away the “store.” Without these three elements, a retailer, whether online or not, doesn’t have a chance to survive.
Many people believe that the online distribution channel will eventually allow product manufacturers to cut the middleman out of the value chain.
The ultimate question for businesses involved in e-tailing will be: Who owns the consumer? Product manufacturers will try to gain direct access to the end consumer, while online retailers will try to win consumer loyalty through multi-brand product offerings and value-added services.
An investor who considers the e-tailing future naturally wants to know which retailers will be the ultimate beneficiaries of online commerce.