Consumer online spending surged during the 2020-21 lockdowns mandated by governments trying to control the spread of COVID-19. While the lockdown requirements of the pandemic have subsided, e-commerce continues to grow as the preferred buying channel.
A summary of global online buying behavior compiled by Ecommerce Guide includes these data points:
- Nearly 60% of internet users buy something from an online retailer every week.
- Consumer electronics is the No. 1 buying category, followed by fashion at No. 2 ($988.4 billion).
- Six of 10 e-commerce buyers make purchase decisions based on the customer service experience.
All told, global e-commerce is a $4.9 trillion sector with predicted growth through 2026, increasing by more than 50%.
With an estimated 20 million companies doing business online and more rushing into the space, a Forbes analysis describes online buyer data as “literally a treasure map of opportunity” to scaling up e-commerce, drive sales and reduce costs.
“There are enough clues and hidden opportunities that will boost sales and grow a business, whether it is a month’s worth of data, two months, three months, or five years of data.”
Businesses are seeking an edge in e-commerce, which creates growing demand for technology professionals with advanced expertise to innovate solutions that will drive profitability in a lucrative sector.
How Do Data-Savvy Companies Use Consumer Information to Optimize E-commerce Growth?
Integrating data into their e-commerce strategy enables companies to spot trends in consumer behavior and take advantage of opportunities to improve the customer experience, turn shoppers into buyers and build loyalty that keeps buyers returning.
Among other benefits, data optimizes a customized buying experience. Nearly three-quarters of consumers say they are frustrated by an impersonal online transaction; on the other hand, four in 10 say they are more likely to do business on a site that personalizes the shopping experience.
The IT services provider Langate identifies several benefits of integrating data into e-commerce initiatives. Among them are the following:
- Targeting the right audience: Consumer behavior analytics ensure the placement of online and social media advertising on sites that appeal to target audiences and provide a link to the seller’s e-commerce page.
- Setting the right price: Online buying is price-driven, costs and prices are constantly in flux and companies with access to real-time financials can adjust prices to meet market demands.
- Making the right decisions: Capturing shopper data from browsing through sale (or cart abandonment) is essential to improving the customer experience.
Moreover, companies that sync their e-commerce platforms with their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems unite other operations — customer service, inventory and fulfillment, for example — in order to gain significant market advantage.
What Are the Elements of Effective E-Commerce Platforms?
An example of a widely deployed platform, SAP S/4HANA, integrates online buying and a cloud-based ERP solution that optimizes the e-commerce experience by:
- Personalizing the web store and providing customers with self-service capabilities
- Ensuring a consistently smooth and seamless performance
- Scaling functionality to exceed customer expectations
As more companies compete to develop sophisticated e-commerce solutions, demand for data professionals with hands-on experience with HANA and other online shopping platforms will grow.
How Do Data Professionals Acquire E-Commerce Expertise?
A Master of Science (M.S.) in Management Information Systems (MIS) from an SAP University Alliance member is an ideal way to gain an advantage over the competition for roles in e-commerce. A member of the Alliance, Lamar University, offers an M.S. in MIS online. The program includes an exploration of ERP e-commerce that provides hands-on experience with SAP HANA and prepares graduates for SAP S/4HANA certification.