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Getting E-Commerce Development Ready for Prime Time

There is still a tendency to think of e-commerce development as a leading-edge component of marketing, when current trends and figures suggest it should be thought of as squarely in the mainstream of marketing. Changing an organizations way of thinking about e-commerce development can impact both the budget share it receives, and how a company perceives the audience for its e-commerce Web site. Failing to make these adjustments can leave a company lagging behind its desired market.

Investing in the Future, Not the Past

Some traditional perceptions about an Internet audience need to be updated. Middle-aged men now spend more time on the Internet, on average, than teenagers. Women are catching up to men in Internet usage.

The evolution of Internet users into a mainstream audience is reflected in how advertising dollars are being spent. While the economic downturn resulted in a rare decline in Internet ad spending in the first quarter of 2009, this 5 percent decline paled in comparison with the advertising revenue declines of 20 percent or more experienced by newspapers, radio, and even television for the same period. In all, consumers spend more time using the Internet than any other medium except television.

All of this has important implications for how marketers spend their budget dollars. It is necessary to anticipate where these trends are going in order to invest in the future rather than the past.

Whos Been Visiting the E-Commerce Web Site?

In essence, marketers should no longer think of an Internet audience as a subgroup of technologically-savvy young people, but as potentially consisting of virtually every segment of the public. Therefore, some steps need to be taken to better define and cater to a particular Web sites actual audience. Businesses looking to bring their e-commerce development up to date should...

  • Assemble information about e-commerce Web site visitors. Again, the old assumptions no longer apply, so e-commerce development should include a regular effort to gather information on each Web sites audience, including age, gender, and income.
  • Consider the relationship among e-commerce site design, the audience, and the product mix. Web site designers tend to be young and technologically savvy, so e-commerce site design tends to reflect this. However, those designers may not represent the actual or the desired audience. It is important to identify and address any disconnect between a Web sites product mix, the actual audience it is attracting, and the site design.
  • Adjust e-commerce Web site design to the audience. If disconnects are identified, the e-commerce site design should be adjusted so that the visiting and shopping experiences are appropriate for the intended audience.
  • Consider using different e-commerce Web sites for different audiences. Companies with broad product lines may have more than one target audience or a product with mass appeal that attracts a wide cross-section of the public. Marketers in this position should consider developing different e-commerce Web sites, so each audience segment will perceive the brand as relevant to their demographics.
  • Consider a zero-based budget approach to marketing. Given how quickly actual conditions are changing, incremental changes in budgets may not allow a companys marketing to move nimbly enough. Rather than simply making adjustments to the prior years budget, this might be a good time to start from scratch and allocate dollars according to which media are showing the most promise.

With more and more people going online, updating e-commerce development tactics is a smart idea for businesses. Theres a larger audience to cater to in the contemporary marketplace, and theres no excuse for missing out on profits.


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