Thursday, 23rd February 2012, 16:06:50
The rise in popularity of social media websites is having a significant effect on the e-commerce world, one expert has claimed.
Alex Pratt, author and entrepreneur, believes that online social interaction is changing how people buy things.
Rather than simply visiting bricks-and-mortar stores, shoppers are researching products online and listening to the opinions of web users.
"The old days of going to a store, having a look and buying a product there are long gone now.
"What people do now is go and find out what other people think on the internet and they'll search online," he said.
Mr Pratt believes that online retailers should adjust their marketing strategy accordingly.
Even though a business is trying to attract online shopping customers, they should not focus on selling a specific product.
A better strategy is to focus on "being interesting to people who have a problem".
It is imperative that a retailer places their customers' needs at the forefront of their online marketing, according to Mr Pratt.
"For instance, your website - instead of being a catalogue of your products - needs to be a place that answers the questions that people who might want to buy your products are going to have in their mind," he said.
It is also important for e-commerce sites to focus on SEO (search engine optimisation) and provide the kind of tailored, high-quality content that will lead to high search engine rankings.
Statistics show that more than three-quarters of Google users never click past the first three search results.
For that reason, Mr Pratt advises businesses to "concentrate on searches rather than selling".
He added: "You've got to really know what you sell and be able to really add value to the customer and not just be selling a product."
Retailers should also ensure that they have an active and positive presence on the web, especially on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
These provide a useful marketing platform, as well as a valuable way to interact with one's target audience.
Posted by Phil Williams
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