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01 September 2021 • Resources

Digital commerce: How it differs from ecommerce and why it’s needed

Digital commerce: How it differs from ecommerce and why it’s needed

The history of ecommerce demonstrates that online stores have certainly come a long way in the past few decades!

Ecommerce has transformed the shopping experience and is increasingly preferred by customers over the traditional experience in stores. As consumer preference has shifted, many retail businesses have adjusted their business models to embrace online sales. 

Though there’s no questioning the importance of ecommerce in today’s market, it now often includes digital commerce to meet the needs and expectations of consumers. While this is a relatively new term, it’s starting to become more relevant to modern businesses.

Digital commerce covers all aspects of the consumer’s online experience. Given the prevalence and evolution of technology, digital marketing efforts now span from product promotion and competitive pricing to content development and even customer retention. 

With digital commerce’s broad reach and the detailed analytics accessible due to improved technology, it’s easy to see why entrepreneurs are opting to incorporate it in their strategies for growing their businesses.

The difference between digital commerce and ecommerce

While digital commerce and electronic commerce sound like interchangeable terms, they are substantially different. Businesses that engage in ecommerce have a website that facilitates online transactions. 

These websites often list product or service descriptions and support the entire purchase being completed online, such as through a shopping cart feature. This is generally where the ecommerce experience ends.

Some companies continue to function simply in the ecommerce realm. However, many are taking full advantage of all that technology now offers to help optimize the ecommerce customer experience and to maximize profitability. 

This is accomplished through a migration from simple internet commerce to digital commerce.

Digital commerce expands to cover digital marketing activities that involve the full customer experience rather than only the purchase experience. This begins with customer acquisition through various digital marketing efforts. 

It continues through product promotion and even identifying the most effective pricing strategy possible via data determined from in-depth analytics. 

Digital commerce extends to cover marketing functions related to content development, customer retention, and detailed analytics of all stages of the customer journey.

The importance of using digital commerce

Using digital commerce is increasingly relevant to businesses across various industries and niches. It applies to both business-to-business and business-to-consumer activities. Today’s customers don’t simply visit a website, select a few items, and finalize their purchases. 

Online retail shoppers instead utilize a range of online sources, services, and data to research products and services before making a buying decision.

The ability to connect with your target audience through all of the outlets that they’re availing of for research is only one aspect of digital commerce. 

Modern consumers are interacting more frequently with their favorite brands online. A business’s ability to embrace digital commerce can help build a brand’s image and foster loyalty. 

Connection with customers through traditional methods is progressively becoming obsolete. For this reason, companies will have to adapt or risk missing out on sales opportunities.

As you dig deeper into the data supporting the profound benefits associated with digital commerce, you’ll come across several other critical factors. These are directly related to the customer experience, customer expectations, and competition in the marketplace.

Delivering a consistent customer experience

The full customer experience is more and more becoming a digital one. Successful businesses must create cohesion and consistency throughout all aspects of the experience. 

For example, a customer’s first experience with an online retailer may be through a social media ad or through shared content. 

The message conveyed through that experience should be directly supported by the customer’s online interaction on the business's website from start to finish.

This holds true regardless of whether the customer is shopping on a desktop browser, a mobile browser, or the store’s app. For this reason, it’s absolutely essential that your chosen online store builder provides your site with all of the functions required for successful electronic commerce.

In addition, these various online experiences must be linked in a fluid manner. For instance, customers shopping on a smartphone should be able to continue on a desktop without losing items from the shopping cart after logging in.

Consistency must go beyond the purchase to cover email marketing campaigns, social media touches, loyalty programs, and more. Digital commerce supports consistency through the entire marketing spectrum across the customer journey. 

This consistency is based on the fact that marketing takes center stage every step of the way.

Meeting expectations

With all of the ecommerce options available, customers understandably have high standards for an excellent online shopping experience. 

Their expectations begin with the first interaction that they have with a business, continuing throughout their journey with the business. Furthermore, a company’s ability to meet those expectations directly affects conversion rates, brand loyalty, and sales.

What happens to a business that fails to meet consumers’ expectations in these critical areas, such as by lagging behind in its digital commerce strategy? 

Customers may feel out of touch with the brand, as though it doesn’t care about them, or even confused about what it represents. These are difficult challenges to overcome once they’re established, no matter the products or services a company offers. 

Because of this, the best time to strategically move into the digital commerce world is as soon as possible if a business wants to increase its sales.

Keeping up with competitors

Digital commerce has the power to help transform the customer journey and to bolster sales in the process. Many of your market competitors may already be embracing digital commerce in various ways. 

As a result, they might be more knowledgeable about customers’ needs and wants. They also may be expanding loyalty and market share, meeting consumers’ expectations, and benefiting in other essential ways.

When you consider that customer referrals are directly linked to loyalty and a positive experience, your competitors may be growing stronger by the day. 

Digital commerce supports deep analytical insights, and these insights can further improve how your competitors interact with customers. 

The bottom line is that you may be losing traction rather than simply treading water if you are not embracing digital commerce.

The need to act

As is the case with so many other aspects of technology, digital commerce and consumer expectations related to the digital experience continue to evolve rapidly. Businesses that are only slowly delving into digital commerce may be falling farther behind. 

There’s no time like the present to up your digital commerce game and further develop your marketing strategy. 

Doing so will help you to provide better services for customers, leading to a better overall shopper experience and likely a boost in sales!

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