If you think your business is perfect as it is, then think again. The imperfections and flaws of a particular business or industry are what propels it to keep evolving. Given the intrinsically capricious nature of today’s markets, owing to drivers of change (at micro and macro levels), changes in a business are inevitable and imminent.
Ecommerce is now a multi-trillion dollar industry, globally, and growing more rapidly than ever. It’s the ever-changing landscape of ecommerce, that presents itself as potential opportunities or gaps in the market, and people or companies that perceive and embrace these changes are the ones bestowed with innovative and disruptive advantages.
When you think of ecommerce what is the first thing that springs to mind? A shopper adding items to a cart? Discounts? Or maybe it’s convenience? Today, online shopping has evolved beyond these to a much more experiential retail experience riveted on a seamless customer-centric journey. This journey is complete with rich personalisation, immense choices and advanced technologies creating a sophisticated simplicity one can see on screen.
No matter the size or saturation of the market, opportunities still exist, but very few notice or take advantage of them. The more you instruct, educate and indoctrinate yourself about a particular facet of an industry, the better you are at espying these hidden opportunities.
How can one better spot opportunities in ecommerce?
Be well informed right from the outset
The key to spotting your next opportunity lies within your ability to profoundly grasp and acquaint yourself with the current ecommerce climate and recognise the true market potential. Firstly, do your due diligence. Investigate, research and acquire as much information about the market. Take a hard look at the market statistics such as market size, market worth, major players, growth percentages, projections etc.
Find out more about competitors, what they are offering or lacking in, to open yourself to more possibilities. Consider going to networking events and connecting with key people and industry experts in the industry to help understand firsthand.
Multi-channel ecommerce and intermediaries
With product searches dominating the web, opportunities in ecommerce go beyond and above. Today’s consumers shop from multiple locations, impelling companies to adopt a multi-channel approach, by leveraging third-party extraneous services such as intermediaries and publishers (aggregator, coupon, loyalty, comparison shopping, discount), marketplaces, social, and more, each being a mammoth industry in itself with innumerable opportunities.
Ecommerce retailers also draw on a myriad of digital media services including online marketing and advertising, SEO, performance or affiliate marketing. When I started out, instead of recruiting clients directly, I used performance networks to access a pool of clients who were already willing to work with publishers.
Ecommerce is not just limited to sale of physical products, which lends itself to any transaction made on the web i.e. – digital downloads, services marketplaces like Uber or Airbnb, ticketing, subscription services etc.
Observe customers’ pain points and also your own
Gaps in the market can be made apparent through identifying problems or challenges your customers are experiencing or sometimes even from your own personal experience. A Data driven approach in extracting customer related data from products, complaints, reviews and other customer interactions can help you identify pain points which in turn can help spin off new opportunities.
Globalisation and cross-border shopping
Cross-border internet shopping is on the rise with retailers shipping packages outside of their area and reaching new audiences like never before. Global ecommerce is growing, as many businesses are scaling into international markets. The new and emerging markets across the world and Asia in particular are untapped with a plethora of opportunities. Sometimes following other countries’ trends might help fill a local gap in the market. When I was living in the US, I fell in love with shopping and deals, which later became my start-up idea when I saw a gap in the Australian market.
Follow new trends changing the industryTake action and capitalise on the opportunity
With the above in mind, hopefully one can find a niche or sniff out an opportunity. Ultimately, these opportunities need to be acted upon to take advantage of them. Today, ecommerce sales in Australia as a percentage of total retail sales is still less than 10% (1). Unquestionably, this is just the start.
Get ready to get a bite, as this already massive ecommerce industry is set to grow by leaps and bounds in the future.