Top 5 E-Business Predictions for 2009

Increases in internet use and online sales is nothing new. The rising trend has been elevated and more recently emphasised due to the economic downturn. What does this mean for the individual? What does this mean for the small business, and how does this affect the large organisation? I've put together a brief overview of my thoughts for the year ahead which I'll be exploring in depth in future articles.

Prediction 1: The Internet - Small Business Revolution

The economic dowturn and cultural changes towards entrepreneurship, will mean opportunities for employees who have been made redundant. Those with sufficient funds will be considering setting up in business and are likely to focus on online initiatives. The internet is the ideal vehicle because of its relatively low cost and easy access to global markets. Furthermore, the best innovations happen in a downturn when businesses are seeking ways to cut costs. While many businesses in restricted industries may fail, there will be small businesses who are better placed to offer lower costs to their clients, and for this reason, we predict 2009 to be the year of the small business entrepreneur.

Prediction 2: Social Media Overload

Organisations and individuals are already feeling overwhelmed by the number networking sites, tools and strategies for marketing using social media. What will they think of next? Those individuals who have not tired of social networking sites, will be more discerning about where to invest their energy. Businesses will continue to look at innovative and productive strategies for social media. We predict that there will be new innovations around consolidating social media tools, through one port of entry, one single sign-on and one action does all.

Prediction 3: Widget Wizardry

Widgets, which are little online tools that allow chunks of code from a web site to be distributed onto third-party web sites. These have far reaching opportunities for online sales, as well as online PR. Lets have a look a trusted travel brand for example, who might benefit from a widget that extracts special offer travel information. Instead of advertisers placing the travel company's banner ads on their web site, they place the travel widget in its place. When the travel company changes an offer, or adds more offers, the widget is updated automatically, across multiple advertiser web sites.

Prediction 4: Customer Chooses Content

Forward thinking organisations such as the BBC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers have already implemented ways to allow web site visitors to choose the content they see. This is nothing new. But how will personalisation capabilities affect e-commerce sites and advertising? E-Commerce sites will be looking one step ahead of targeting products and services based on customer behaviour. Forward thinking businesses will allow their loyal customers to choose which products they want to see when they go to their web site. This not only involves the customer in the marketing process, thus reinforcing trust, but will ensure better targeting of products and services and increase sales.

Prediction 5: Product Pricing Wars and E-Commerce

Manufacturers who traditionally sold to a mix of large and small retailers globally, may consider more carefully who they distribute to. Lets examine an electronics manufacturer, for example, who distributes to large and small retail outlets, as well as e-commerce stores. Search engines and price comparison tools have made it much easier for consumers to compare products, and in an economic downturn, they will be even more price sensitive. When less reputable retailers lower their prices to just above the distribution price, this not only diminishes the value of the electronics brand, but also places stress on the manufacturer and other retailers. We predict that manufacturers may choose to work with only more established retail brands who have both a web channel and a store channel. If the manufacturer is not already online, they may wish to cash in on the internet market, by setting up their own e-commerce channel.

Author:

Deborah M. Collier - President - The Certificate in Online Business Date:

4th Februrary 2009

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