Digital business is more than e-commerce: Top-5 commerce trends, revisited [Part 1]

Trends revisited PC Monitor und Tastatur vintage
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Spring is here. Often times the change in the early summer season is reason enough for many to clean up, organise, get rid of stuff, and get a new start. Throw away or keep? Everyone knows there are certain things that you just can’t and shouldn’t part with, no matter how old they are.

The same goes for trends. There are also classics in digital business that have lost nothing in value after more than 20 years and definitely do not belong in a »throwaway box«. We would like to introduce you to these trends and why it’s so important to bring them to the forefront again after all this time, to emphasise them, and to revive them in the current circumstances.

E-Commerce: From trend to commonplace

In 1998 a German newspaper for teenagers called Bravo asked: »Is it worth going online?« The answers from eight teens between the ages of 15 and 17 – or as Bravo calls them: »Online Freaks« — ranged from the praise of chats and communities to complaints about long loading times and the meanwhile empty internet cafés. Surfing the internet wasn’t in just yet.

But by 1998 you could already be shopping online. Since 1998 we’ve had Google. Since 1998 Germany has had Amazon. As bizarre as Bravo’s survey sounds today it shows: For two decades »digitisation« has been developing at different speeds. After all, those who have been dealing with trends and developments in digital transformation for many years now think A lot of trends last a long time. For all these trends there are excellent best practice examples. In fact, five trends have been booming for decades:

  • Digital Business is More Than E-Commerce
  • Brands are Becoming (Service) Platforms
  • Personalisation is Required
  • Content is King
  • Experience Economy in B2B and B2C

Digital business is more than e-commerce

The internet was once just a giant catalogue. It was obvious to digitally reproduce the principle catalogue from Williams-Sonoma or Harry and David.
Online shops were born. Since then online retail has grown. Just in the B2C-sector in Germany alone it’s grown by 5,000 per cent from 1 billion euros in 1998 to almost 54 billion euros in 2018. Almost 20 per cent of retail sales is generated online today. That number is rising with no end in sight. Online is now so powerful that Otto (a German home furnishings company) stopped their print catalogue, the symbol of economic success, after 68 years.

During the same period, the internet changed its face. Exciting features such as high-quality product images and product information were just as relevant as free shipping or delivery time. Today they’re expected.

Amazon and Zalando have shaped user habits so much that the confidence in the shop, usability, and services like consultations have a higher impact on sales success than the best price.

Digital business between the point of interest and point of sale

Digital business apparently knows no boundaries. E-Food and sharing economies prove that you can sell anything online even if it was once that as impossible — thanks to digitally added value. In B2B too, digitally added value for customers is becoming more and more often the norm. More than ever before, the buzzword »omnichannel« applies to retailers and manufacturers.

But that doesn’t mean having to offer »everything« on »every channel«! User requirements and channels are individual. Omnichannel means being integrated with those functionalities that users expect at the individual point of interest – not necessarily at the point of sale.

To do this, ERP, CRM, CMS, PIM, and shop system have to work together. The basic question of e-commerce-based digital business must, therefore, be: What does my customer, my employee, my partner (in short: the user) need to be even more successful in order to reach their destination even more conveniently?

2019 Digital Business Trends

In the next part of our Top-5 Commerce Trends Revisited series, we’ll look at brands in the age of digital experience platforms. In order to bridge the time until the next article, you can find old and new trends in the current trend book Handelskraft 2019 »Digital DNA«, but also learn how to make innovations for your own business and real added value for your customers.

The trend book is now available exclusively for retailers, manufacturers, and publishers here as a free download.

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