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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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What is the profile of the users who return their purchases?

What is the profile of the users who return their purchases?



Any user who makes an online purchase is assisted by the right of desist. This right covers, in principle, all consumers of eCommerce and gives them the option to return the purchased product and obtain a refund of the money within 14 days after receiving the product. This deadline can be extended, and in most cases, suppliers give up to 30 days of margin for this. Others even reach 100.

The merchant is not only obligated to offer the money back, but to ensure this right is a very favored point facing the customers. The vast majority of users make good use of this option, but what about those who discard by default and take advantage of this possibility?

So, we have three stereotypes of buyers who "give back too much" and from whom all eCommerce tries to flee:


The wardrobe buyer. Why buy clothes if you can borrow? Clothing or any other object. Let's take the example of an appliance. A major sporting event is coming up as the World Cup and television is too small, what does this type of buyer do? He gets a new television, uses it to watch the competition, and when he finishes, he returns it and recovers the money invested. The type of wardrobe buyer sees online merchants as dispensing machines for items that will never run out of stock. This practice is theoretically not permitted, but generally difficult to prove.


The compulsive buyer. Buying on credit is very comfortable for the customer and can give way for many to buy more than their pocket can really afford. The psychological barrier that inhibits when making returns is much lower than in physical stores, since eCommerce does not have to be justified before any dependent when dozens of articles are returned at a time.


The demanding buyer. In this group we include users who, if they buy a blouse, order on the web at least four different sizes, or buy the same model of shoes in three different colors, and add to the cart, in addition, 20 accessories. This type of customer, uses his own floor as if it were the tester of a physical store. Buy the same in various sizes and colors to try and then change it. This practice, although perfectly legal, harms the merchant as it must shed many items that in reality will not be acquired by anyone.


Is it expensive for eCommerce?

What is sometimes free for the consumer, can be a cost to the merchant since, in many cases, they take care of the shipping costs. Approximately, it is estimated that only a quarter of all products that have been returned can be sold again at the same price. To that we should add the expense of time and personnel.

It is true that most of these practices are perfectly legal and it is difficult to dodge such buyers. As advice, a good way to avoid them, it could be to discount the following order to those buyers who have retained all items without returning any after 5 purchases.

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Julio Alfonzo
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Corporate communication: letting the consumer take control

Corporate communication: letting the consumer take control



Technological democratization has changed the order of factors and, now, that brand that does not attend in a personalized way to its client, is condemned to ostracism. If you want to have a powerful brand, what you need to do is to tell stories and let the consumer take control.

A new dictatorship rules in corporate communication, whose messages has the virtue (or defect) of being preached in 140 characters. Not one more. This is an effect of the great revolution that has taken place in recent years, from broadcasters or traditional media (TV, radio, press) to the broadband empire or the digital environment.

Yes, the world has changed and companies must adapt to a reality where the consumer, today, is the absolute protagonist; which means that if a company wants good numbers, it requires incorporating communication strategies 3.0 (Social Video, E-Commerce, Augmented Reality?), that goes beyond social networks and that revolve around the existence of content as an element of communication and brand generation.

Certainly, for some years now, some marketing departments have begun to implement new practices to assimilate change, but the adoption of a culture in which mass markets no longer exists, and therefore customers have left being seen as a source of income and now have become a power of prescription and a source of information. Message between lines: the construction of brands through traditional marketing has lost effectiveness, so new tools and 360º strategies that incorporates the consumers in the process are needed.

This change, undoubtedly, is based on technological development, and above all, on the "democratization" of access to it. Today, an African child with a smartphone has more information in his his hands than the President of the United States, 15 years ago. The world is facing more advanced technology than NASA had when it put a man on the moon, more than 40 years ago.

Companies, and their marketing areas, face a "perfect storm" that must be overcome through a maxim: to understand that the process of adaptation leads to errors, but the future is to risk and support an entrepreneurial approach. Where to start? To build bridges between the old and the new world.

This is translating into the enrichment of both, and the diversification and specification of supply. Currently, offering variety is key to the online experience, but relevancy could be the priority in the future. Yes, offering a product that is relevant to a particular customer can become the best source of trust and loyalty in a brand.

The new, more competitive, more global reality implies building and maintaining a closer relationship with all customers, to differentiate themselves from competitors by developing strategies in which brand content and giving voice to the consumer are key pieces. So, the future is in the proper management of the interaction with the user.

The future of any brand in the current environment passes through brand content, which serves as a tool for building segmented audiences; as well as a generator of trust, facilitator of interaction and element that influences the purchase decision.

In short, content allows brands to present their identity, values, personality, but also connect with the consumer in a "non-advertising" way to integrate it into the strategy of communication and brand creation.

In a few words, today more than ever, telling stories and be in permanent contact with the consumer it should be prioritized, understanding the consumer as a participant, creator and issuer of communication and brand values.
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Julio Alfonzo
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