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The Internet and the changes it made to our ecommerce lifestyle

The Internet and the changes it made to our ecommerce lifestyle



Many are the changes that the internet has brought to the market and they have changed how businesses have to operate and work. The network has made the communication change, the way to access to the information or the marketing strategy that companies are using. And, of course, the network has also completely changed consumption.

Broadly speaking, internet propitiated a modification between what triumphs and what does not. Before its existence, the success or failure of something was closely linked to the fact that it could reach large masses of consumers and seduce them. A product could not be considered a success if it did not sell massive quantities and if it did not reach many consumers. One of the best examples to understand how this idea works is in books. Before the internet, only genres with massive audiences were easy to find. Now anyone can read almost anything thanks to the distribution in electronic format and even thanks to distribution via paper, since the model of print on demand has appeared.

But this was only one of the changes in consumption. The Internet imposed many more of those. It turned e-commerce into one of the great fashions and one of the most important elements of the economy in the 21st century, causing consumers to start buying virtually everything online. If first we only dared to buy tickets to shows through the network, now we buy almost everything, from books to the furniture studio we need.

And, finally, the internet has disrupted the consumption and the relationship between who offers and whom it serves, thanks to the boom of the collaborative economy. The issue, which appeared a few years ago as one of the great novelties of the market and as something innovative made by a few, has become an overwhelming market force with consequences that go far beyond the network. 

The Generational Gap

But, of course, this change is not only linked to the irruption of the Internet into consumption, but also thanks to a generational change. Those who use Uber, Airbnb, BlaBlaCar or the different crowsourcing platforms are, above all, young consumers. Millennials have put these tools into fashion and millennials are, in the end, those who employ them. Why? If you ask a millennial who has just traveled to some place and stayed in one of those apartments that can be rented online, via the platform of the sharing economy, he will surely talk about freedom, certain services that he does not access other way and experiences.

Millennials are the ones who participate most in these services and who are their main consumers. With respect to millennials, it is three times more likely that they will use collaborative economy services for anything (from renting spaces to contracting professional services) than older consumers.

For these consumers, these services are seen in a much more natural way, so they have less reluctance to start using them. For them they are simply one more opportunity to acquire what they want.

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Julio Alfonzo
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We need to make digital things to look more natural.

We need to make digital things to look more natural.




Since the beginning of time, human beings have had to deal with their environment. Animals and nature have been our inseparable companions, and as a consequence, our internal programming is prepared to interact, protect and take advantage of their natural habitat.

In spite of this, times change, and today we find ourselves immersed in a technological world, which, far from visualizing itself reversible, seems to be advancing by leaps and bounds towards an increasingly technological society.

But is the brain also prepared for this technology?

The truth is that the brain is not yet fully "adapted" to it. A child learns to handle different devices from the earliest years of life. However, it is mere learning early. Innately, children are born more prepared to interact with their environment.

Our brain seems to continue to be more attracted to those natural sounds, shapes, colors and movements. Some of the most prestigious Universities in the world proved this phenomenon. Oshin Vartanian, of the University of Toronto, after showing 200 images of different architectural designs, discovered that circular forms were valued more positively than straight or squared forms.

Another neuroimaging study conducted by Moshe Bar (Harvard Medical School) suggested that organic forms are preferred by our brains because they offer a sense of security. The billiard and straight elements have always been associated with dangerous objects, and also produce activation in the amygdala (brain zone focused on the "processing" of fear).

At the same time, several studies of Neuromarketing have demonstrated how the packaging of some products are sold in greater quantity when using these forms. An example could be the CocaCola bottle. In addition, these designs often incite interaction with the product. That is, a detergent with straight corners, is less attractive than a detergent with circular shapes and rounded corners. The latter is perceived more tangible.

Definitely, the organic is more normalized, we are more accustomed to perceive similar forms in the environment. Therefore, entering the new digital world, webs, blogs and e-commerce must also try to approach this natural dimension in its design.

Facebook is a good referent. Zuckerberg and his team have managed to create a 100% digital platform, but with a natural cut. Each element of the social network has rounded corners and curves. The messenger sounds are simple, fun and very organic. And like Facebook, we could name Twitter or Apple (among many others).

Other platforms, like LinkedIn, prefer to use more serious designs with straight terminations. After all, everything depends on the experience that we want to create in our users. But without a doubt, we must make the technological thing more pleasant for the brain.
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Julio Alfonzo
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If you aren't on the internet you don't exist and soon you will not be able to sell either

If you aren't on the internet you don't exist and soon you will not be able to sell either



Many were those who did not want to believe that Bill Gates phrase, when he mentioned that "If your business is not on the Internet, then your business will be out of business". That phrase is perfect when it comes to verify the true importance of the internet for businesses. Now, the most immediate future, augurs us a new generational change where electronic commerce and the way of selling will be protagonists.

The Internet is an increasingly important part of the day to day and is also becoming a fundamental part of understanding the future. The network is appropriating all the parts of our day to day and is integrating all our needs. The Internet is no longer an element or part of what we are or do, but has become a vehicle element that unites everyone and everything.

Therefore, and especially as the penetration of the network becomes deeper and as its importance is touching more and more points (do not forget that the immediate future is undeniably smart and that everything will be connected to the Network, from the city where you live to domestic appliances), the weight of the internet in the business world is greater and greater.

Brands, products and companies have to be present in the network and have to adapt to the needs it imposes. If you are not on the internet, you will hardly reach the consumer. And if it is not on the internet, it is hardly going to be sold, now and especially in the immediate future. What makes the network crucial for survival?

The audience is on the internet: the search engines are the new Yellow Pages

One of the main reasons that explain the need to be on the internet is the fact that consumers are there. The net is the source of wisdom to which they come at all times, either because they need to consult the life of a dark king who appears on a plaque in a museum on Wikipedia or because they want to find a restaurant to have a dinner and do not know where to go. The network has become its source of information for everything and has done so for all generational groups. The Google search is no longer old.

And if the audience is there it is absurd not to be where they are looking to be found, especially as the passage of time points to a change in this behavior that will make consumers to be even more on the internet. Mobile devices are becoming more popular and year after year they improve the conditions of mobile internet connection while the prices of these services are reduced. This is increasing the number of consumers connected and that the use of the internet to find information is year after year higher. Therefore, relying on the network to be found when consumers need the services or products on offer is even more important.

Do not forget: internet and search engines are the new Yellow Pages.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Can you survive and sell on the internet without being the cheapest?

Can you survive and sell on the internet without being the cheapest?



In the offline world, there are many types of stores and not all bet on the same criteria to try to reach the consumer. Not everyone wants to have a low cost supermarket or a discount store in which the main offer are products at low prices. So why is there a certain belief that when selling online you have to sell at a low price? Is e-commerce marked by offers to the point that it is only successful if it is sold cheap?

For years, what most worked on the net were the offers. Consumers made the network their main ally when they were looking for things at lower prices. The trips started to be bought online because the internet was able to find the lowest prices, last minute offers of hotels or the cheapest fares of the low cost airlines. Then came the coupon pages or online outlets, which were the entry point for many consumers for e-commerce. And then many large e-commerce companies that invoice millions have made offer low prices a decisive element of their corporate image and the service they offer to consumers.

This has consolidated the idea that the Internet has to always be cheap, although the truth is that consumers do not just look for that in the network. There are many criteria that lead consumers to put the price behind and be willing to pay more for what is being offered.

How they are willing to pay more

Consumers have a certain scale of values ​​in which they mark points in which they know that they will have to pay more and in which they are willing to pay more money than they usually pay for other things and products.

Outside the network, consumers are willing to pay more when what is offered is a superior product. In this way, offering a service and a portfolio of products of superior quality is an important tool of differentiation that can serve to get consumers to become consumers delivered without the price becomes a decisive element for the purchase decision. Just take for example some of the e-commerce initiatives that have made your great letter of presentation the fact that your products come from the field to the table, such as those who serve fruits exclusively and directly.

They can also be differentiated by using exclusive products. So another element that can make the price fall into the background is the nature of the products they are selling. Is the online store offering something that goes beyond what everyone else offers? One of the elements that have served many companies to catch the attention of buyers is to have things that others do not have. Online cosmetics stores, for example, often work thanks to this resource. Import products that are not easy to find, brands that only they have or products that work almost as little discovered secrets are some of the tools they come up with.

But not only the quality or the exclusivity of the products can serve as a deterrent so that consumers do not worry about the price. There are also market segments (and market segments with high online penetration) where monetary issues have become less relevant. Artisan products, ecological, sustainable or those with a certain artistic will tend to have much higher prices than the average.

Equally, not only the product itself can mark the prices. The speed of service is another aspect that makes consumers obviate price as a barrier to entry. Being sure that the products will arrive quickly once bought usually makes consumers more willing to pay more for them.

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Julio Alfonzo
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Why packaging is decisive when it comes to succeed in e-commerce?

Why packaging is decisive when it comes to succeed in e-commerce?



When a buyer receives an Amazon package, he can see quite easily (sometimes it is printed on the same box, sometimes it is on the packaging tape with which they have closed) a message that invites you to rate the package in which the product has been shipped to you. The company is one of the most concerned about how to design their packaging and how they work when the consumer receives it at home. And whoever has ever received a package from this online store already knows that they are very easy to open and that with many times simply pulling a tab the thing will already be done.

Amazon is also one of the recurring examples used when discussing the importance of packaging in e-commerce and how the form in which products are shipped can completely change the way in which the company is perceived. One of the general mistakes made by e-commerce firms is to think that their work, the main job that the consumer will take into account when evaluating their work, ends at in moment in which the consumer has validated its purchase.

This makes you lose sight of two very important points. One is logistics, the way the product comes home from the consumer, an issue that has to be in the hands of third parties (e-commerce companies usually do not have the resources to do their own shipping processes) and that is one of many things that creates tension for consumers. The other is the very package in which the product is sent and that is -although many times the companies forget it- a further extension of the customer experience.


And truth is that the package can be a completely differential element, as demonstrated by the case of Amazon and as shown by some success cases of some small startups. For example, Laconicum, a Spanish online cosmetics store, has made its packages an expression of its brand values. The store sells very special, unique cosmetics, and it does so in a neat way. Their packages are also cosmetic and do not arrive simply packaged in a cardboard box, but they do it in something they feel like opening.

Therefore, making a good package is not something that is only within reach of the big ones, but it is something that any e-commerce firm with a concern for the consumer can do and can achieve.
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Julio Alfonzo
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Importance of costumer service for e-commerce

Importance of costumer service for e-commerce



In e-commerce is equally important what happens before as what happens after the purchase. Before the consumer makes the final click that will cause the product they want to become a purchase, the brands have to pay special attention to a large list of items. The design of the web, the photos of the product, the comments of other consumers, how the prices of different products or services are presented. All these elements are crucial to convince the consumer and all of them have become the elements of manual that all the brands and all the companies take care of.

But the truth is that these are not all crucial elements and are not the only ones that brands should watch with falcon eyes. One of the trends in e-commerce is that of thinking that once the sale has been closed the work is already done. The consumer has bought, the product has been shipped and everything the seller has to do or should do is done. However, this reasoning is a mistake and only causes problems and failures in the relationship between consumers and brands. A good relationship between seller and buyer has to go further and has to cover many more aspects.

The customer service has to be good and has to be taken care of well beyond the time when the sale is closed and the concern of the brands has to focus on what happens also when the product is sold. Customer service has to be as effective before and after the sale, because that is the only way to gain consumer confidence and get it to repeat. If you want the sale not to be a matter of a lucky day, the brands have to be able to maintain quality standards that go beyond the moment they have made the money.

It doesn't matter that isn't the brand itself who delivers the product

One of the most frustrating experiences in terms of customer service in e-commerce is having problems with the delivery of the product and that the deliver company refers the consumer to talk with the logistics firm. The calls to the post office can be a response very close to reality (if the package does not arrive it is likely to be because of a problem with the logistics firm) but a blunder in terms of image issues and positive customer care is concerned. The customer service does not end because the product leaves the the brand and should not be considered finished until the consumer has it at home and is happy with their purchase. A good degree of satisfaction means that the company is also an intermediary in the delivery process and that it is concerned with the arriving of the products.

Likewise, the brand has to worry about the products arriving on time. Not only is it being there to solve the problems or to listen to the consumer who needs it, but also to ensure that the service will be as good as expected. 
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Julio Alfonzo
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Is free shipping a big lie?

Is free shipping a big lie?



One of the first lessons learned about e-commerce is that consumers are not willing at all to pay for receiving the products they buy. Free shipments are one of the reasons why consumers decide to stay with one e-commerce firm and not another one of the causes that explain the success of one company over another. Consumers have begun to demand that the things they receive are received for free and have made shipments one of the key pieces of the e-commerce puzzle.

In part, it has been the fault of the e-commerce companies themselves that, from the beginning, have used the resource of receiving product at the door of the house at no cost as one of the great marketing elements.

Although consumers have taken for granted that shipments should always be free of charge and that brands should not charge them for any reason, the truth is that (and it is actually logical) shipments are never free. Making things come from the company that is selling them to the door of our house has a cost, a cost that someone has to pay and assume at some point. Are e-commerce free shipments one of the big lies or one of the great half-truths of consumption in recent times?

As pointed out in an analysis of FastCompany, free shipments in the e-commerce are, on one hand, one of the great lies that they sell them to the consumers in the times of the network and, on the other, one of the questions that do e-commerce firms of virtually all sizes are living in more than complicated times. Consumers have assumed that shipments have become one of the elements they receive, anyway, as a courtesy of online stores, when the truth is that someone is paying them at some point and often the companies themselves are doing it. Shipments are already included in the price of the products in many occasions or reach the consumer via payment systems at the flat rate (as with Amazon's premium shipping format).

And, when the consumer does not pay, the company and its investors are paying, which has to assume a new operating cost that will weigh their accounts and that will make their strategy have to be much more refined. As one company director tells the magazine, the cost of sending the products to the door of the consumer's home is three times greater than sending them to the store.

A big lost for small firms

The big losers in this race are the small online stores, which have much less muscle than the giants of e-commerce. Its volume of sales is much lower, which makes recovering costs much more difficult, and its weight in establishing logistics strategies is also much smaller.

However, and although they are the big losers, things are not so easy for the big ones, they also have to fine tune and a lot, to reduce the impact of that cost and they have to create formulas to recover them. The fact that signatures like Amazon are always taking out premium formats (such as Amazon Pantry, where you can receive the purchase at home but with an added cost) is just a form to find new ways of financing something which is draining their accounts. Whether these companies are trying to create logistic arms or be much more cost-efficient in deliveries is another of the symptoms that point in this direction.
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Julio Alfonzo
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