E-Business is the organisation of conducting business by means of the web. According to the Retail Week (Bowden, 2015), online sales have developed by 14% from 2013 to 2014 with it surpassing £100bn. The expanding popularity of online retail predicts that online sales are predicted to increase by 12% in 2015. This report will explore the future for retailers like Marks and Spencer and the key characteristics required for continued successful operations.
A bricks and clicks business model is one where a business conducts business both offline and online. The word ‘bricks' refers to doing business in person and the word ‘clicks' refers to online purchases and transactions. According to the E-Commerce Times (Regan, 2001), the bricks and clocks business model has many advantages. For one, it allows establishments to benefit from doing online business that can achieve a massive customer population. Additionally, the article points out that consumers were content with the effectiveness and flexibility involved with online purchases and so the business method gives companies a competitive advantage.
In Figure 1, Mintel (2014) demonstrates the estimated value of online click and collect orders (including VAT) from 2012 to 2015. In 2012, £2.6bn was made because of online click and collect deals. This increased by just about half in 2013, bringing the sales made up to £3.9bn. In 2014, £5.6bn was made which was a 42% rise from 2013. From looking at the graph above, the estimated sales for online click and collect is approximately £7.4bn which is a 33% increase from 2014 and a 65% increase from 2012. As it can be seen in Figure 1, there has been a constant rise in online click and collect sales. This could be due to the benefits that online click and collect offers customers with as well as the luxury of online purchasing. For instance, customers are not charged postage for their order as it is distributed straight to the store. Not only does this save money, it also avoids the hassle of missed home conveyance. Also, the usage of online click and collect ordering permits busy customers to cut in-store shopping completely out of their agendas in order to save time. Ordering online means that in-store pickup is quick and simple, and can be accomplished within just a few minutes. Moreover, the service completely eliminates the disappointment of not being able to find products in stores because of low stock levels as items are in stock online and are available for shipping. This results in eliminating the need for trips to numerous shops.
Figure 2 shows online shopping activities performed by various devices from August 2014 to October 2014. The graph above shows that 82% of the internet users that were part of the survey used their PCs to shop online whereas 27% of the internet users utilised their smartphones to place orders on the web. Mintel (2014) proposes that shoppers are cautious about submitting payment details on mobile devices hence the low usage of smartphones to shop online. Nonetheless, this figure can be seen to increase in 2015 from the introduction of Apple Pay, the company's first venture into the mobile wallet sector, as the company stresses that users financial data will not be store on their phone. As a result, if mobile wallets become more prominent consumers will begin to see the smartphone as a buying tool which could have more noteworthy ramifications for the e-business industry all in all.
Social media is a marketing tool as well as a marketing strategy that is regularly used at numerous organisations. An essential part of the business procedure is to set up relationships with customers as well as purchasers with the use of social media by accomplishing it rapidly and effortlessly. Janet Fouts (2015), a social media coach and chief executive of Tatu Digital Media states that ‘social media allows salespeople to see what prospects are saying about their brand and competitors'. According to Shopify (2013), Facebook is the online networking platform that drives the most sales. Almost 66% of all social media visits to Shopify were from Facebook. In Figure 3, the graph shows that an average 85% of all e-business orders were likewise from Facebook. Forbes (2015) claims there are various ways in which social media can be used to make sales as well as increase sales. These are: decide the best way to interact with customers, join a community and create a persona, associate with profiles that match the fitting industry and build relationships with consumers and purchasers as they could possibly turn into good leads.
In conclusion, there are several key components that can help expand online retail sales within in the UK. Some of these include: click and collect, social media marketing and good business practices. Social media marketing has given retail brands the chance to build relationships with a large number of customers therefore allowing them to voice their opinions. This has resulted in businesses to alter their products consequently in order to meet customer's desires increasing in online retail sales. Straightforward business practices are a key quality for effective operation as customers can get the message out in the event that they are provided with exceptional service therefore resulting in a steady growth within the customer base.
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