In the recent years, building social media presence has become an integral part of the e-commerce industry. The business firms use social presence to attract new customers and influence their perception. Due to the immense competition in the e-commerce industry companies use social presence to attract new customers and retain the older ones. The e-commerce businesses use blog pages and social media to increase brand awareness and increase the number of potential customers (Rawat and Divekar, 2014).
A well-established business in a physical location builds an online presence to increase its sales and expand its customer base beyond the physical location. Many retailers are using internet to increase their product sales and attract more customers to their physical store. The customers use online medium to shop online or view the products and promotional offers offered by the business. It can be stated that online presence provides an advantage to the business organizations to expand their business. The online presence is an expansion of the physical store; however, several considerations are needed to launch a successful online presence. Building an online presence for s business is different from launching a new business online in several ways. The online customers are different from the customers who walk into the physical store. Therefore, it is important for the business to adopt an appropriate strategy for launching online business. The businesses have to launch new strategies for advertising, pricing and shipping of the products through online mediums. A local firm faces several problems while launching an online business such as language barriers or social differences. For instance a website launching an e-commerce website in another country has to abide by the standardized sizes followed in different countries. Moreover, communicating effectively with online customers in different countries is also challenging for the online vendors (Consumer Dummies, 2016).
Rampton (2016) have stated that the before making a purchase decision, a consumer searches about the company and the product online; therefore, the online presence can be stated as the first introduction of the company to the consumers. That’s why it is important for the companies to build a strong online presence. The online presence of a business organization builds its image, reputation and attracts potential customers. However, in the present times, most of the business organizations have an online presence; therefore, the companies must implement some strategies to distinguish themselves from their counterparts. In this regard, a company can create their website and optimize it so that it is mobile friendly. It is important that the website is simple and easy to use. The essential components of a website are an about us page, blog testimonials, blog and a contact address. Secondly, the companies should select a limited number of social channels to communicate with their customers on the basis of business type and communication type. The companies should focus on three most popular businesses LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Blogs are also effective in giving a voice to the online brand and building trust with personally connecting with the consumers. Unique and quality content establishes a good reputation of the company.
Security in e-commerce payment websites
In the recent times, the online shopping has gained immense popularity due to its high accessibility, easy, quick and cheaper methods to make transactions and consumer purchase. The increasing use of the online transactions has raised the issue of internet security and privacy in financial transactions. The majority of the consumers who avoid online transactions do it due to their perception regarding internet security. Therefore, the ability of e-commerce website to build a successful online business is to combat the security threats and modify the consumer perception regarding internet security. In the internet security, the perceived availability, confidentiality and the non-denial of the services are essential components. These factors also play a key decision in the consumer purchase decision and the use of an e-commerce website. The security aspects of the site have implications on the consumer’s perceived usefulness, ease of use and attitude towards the website (Hartono et al., 2014).
The business organizations are also needed to improve the security in online transactions to increase trust and it increases the use of e-commerce. The e-commerce websites must establish technical infrastructure which is resistant to the security attacks. Several technical protections and security protocols are established to protect the system from the security attacks. The security in the e-commerce website is dependent upon several factors, namely, technical infrastructure, transaction factors, such as secure payment according to rules and legal factors. The present security methods include encryption and authentication techniques wherein the identity and privacy of the customers are protected from fraudulent activities. In e-commerce websites, the security of the payment systems can be divided into two components, namely, integrity, which includes authentication of consumers, privacy and transferability, payer tracing and payment confidentiality. The e-commerce websites can increase the consumer trust by publishing security statements in which the companies can publish information regarding operations and security statements. It creates the information security which positively contributes to the purchase decision (Nah and Tan, 2016).
There are two kinds of security threats in the e-commerce website, namely, the threat to the e-commerce website and the threat to the customers of the e-commerce website. An e-commerce merchandizer has to give highest priority to the security due to the large number of security threats. The merchandizers have to implement the right security in the first time, because it is almost impossible to recover from the security mistakes of the organization. In this regard, the e-commerce companies should store only the essential information of the customers. Several e-commerce websites store excessive information regarding the customers to create market insight; however, if the company loses this information it invites flak and creates distrust among the customers. The company should make a conscious decision to use internal transaction system to process their online decisions. Using external payment system increases the vulnerability of the system and increases the operational cost of the company (Zorzini, 2016).
Competitive advantage in e-commerce environment
In the contemporary business environment, there is high competition among the business organizations and e-commerce companies due to saturation in the field and marginal profits. The consumers are becoming highly demanding; they want a personalized treatment, and suggestions to the products and services that better suit their needs. Therefore, it has become essential for the e-commerce companies to create a competitive advantage to increase their customer base. In regard to the e-commerce industry, the database marketing is considered as an essential tool for developing the competitive advantage of the companies. It provides the companies with opportunity to connect the customers and the vendors as per the new market trend. The companies can use the database marketing to make available the data in an appropriate structure so that the consumers can access it easily (Kahraman and Sari, 2016).
It will improve the performance of the companies and provide them with support in the marketing activities. The database marketing refers to the direct form of marketing herein the companies directly communicates with their customers based on their previous transactions and provide customized suggestions according to their preferences. In the digital economy, the database marketing provides the customers a tool to enhance their market share and gaining competitive advantage (Kahraman and Sari, 2016).
Along with it, there are other activities in research and development, production and marketing that enable a business organization to attain competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is referred to the distinctive competencies of a company which enables it to provide efficiency and customer satisfaction. An e-commerce organization can create a competitive advantage by providing superior services in relation to its counterparts. The companies can also offer the products at a lower price to increase customer base. The companies can also use the option of providing services at a local retailer to provide better services to the customers. The companies can better serve the customers who want to look at the merchandize before buying it or the customers who prefer to pick up the products instead of delivery services. The company can save on the delivery charges and simplify the pre-processing before placing the orders. This kind of strategies assists an e-commerce form to differentiate itself from its competitors (Lee, 2016).
The companies can increase the competitive advantage by enhancing the customer experience by integrating several customer experience strategies. In order to offer satisfactory consumer experience to all the customers, the companies need to design value proposition strategy to its customers. In the strategy development, the customer base should be divided into different segments and a unique value proposition should be developed for each customer. While making a transaction, a customer may interact with the sales person, support staff and the billing department. It is important that all the staff members acknowledge the organization culture of the company and support the company to provide unique experience to the customers. The companies can better develop their customer service strategies by identifying the needs of the consumers. By identifying the needs of the consumers, the company can exceed the expectations of the consumers (Gary, 2017)
Consumer behaviour of online customers
The major target market for the e-commerce companies is the online customer base. Therefore, recently, several researches are conducted to investigate the behaviour or the online consumers and the key motivational factors that affect the online purchase decision. The factors affecting the online purchase decision are different from the offline factors. Therefore, the marketing tactics employed by the e-business organizations are also different from the offline methods. Although the online shopping experience is quite popular to the consumers who want convenience and rapid transactions, several factors such as lack of trust, the need of examining the product and human interaction prevents them to buy online. The decision-making to buy a product online is also different from the traditional purchase decision. The consumers first see the online advertisements, seeking more information through online channels, comparing the choice of products, searching consumer reviews and brand image and at last making the purchase decision ((Veronika, 2013).
In this regard, the website stricture, customer reviews and the brand name plays a specific role in the purchase decision. The well-organized information becomes crucial in supporting the purchase decision of thee consumers. The option to compare different products is the unique feature of online shopping. The variety of the products offered, information quality and the sales services are crucial in predicting the online purchase decision. From the above discussion it can be deduced that the major motivating factors in the online shopping are convenience, availability and assortment of the products and services, information availability and saving in terms of cost and time. The major motivating factor in the online shopping is the convenience offered to the consumers. The consumers can access online shopping twenty-four hours. Moreover, the consumers can also avoid online crowds and long queues with online shopping (Veronika, 2013).
A few customers also avoid communication with the sales person as they feel uncomfortable to interact with them which increase the use of online shopping. Similarly, the information provided to the online customers is also significant in purchase decision. The consumers cannot physically test the product; therefore, they accumulate as much information as possible from the internet sources. They also access the online consumer reviews to check the viability of purchasing the product. Therefore, it becomes important for the e-commerce websites to provide all the necessary information to the customers. Along with it, the time and the cost efficiency also encourages the consumers to buy products online (Customer Service Skills, 2017).
Social media is also an import in encouraging the customers to buy products online. Several e-commerce companies have pages or accounts on the social media that complements the information provided in the merchandizer’s website. It utilizes the information obtained by the feedback of the consumers and develops the band image of the organization (Ioan?s and Stoica, 2014).
Social media marketing
The social media marketing is the process of obtaining customers and attention of the online users through social media sites. The online marketers use social media to interact with the consumers and establishing a connection with them. In the social media feeds, new content, news stories are discovered which are basically a search activity and increases the knowledge of the customers of a specific brand. The social media marketing is commonly used by the e-businesses and the online companies to increase the customer base and audience of the company. A company can create a comprehensive social media strategy by following certain guidelines. It is important for a business organization to provide quality content all the time. In the social media marketing, the primary aim of the company is to increase its sales; however, instead of directly asking the consumers, the company should provide qualitative information and content. In the social media marketing, the companies focus on providing qualitative content to the consumers; however, the context of advancing the content should also be relevant otherwise the content will be futile in attracting the attention of the consumers (Tuten and Solomon, 2014).
In social media marketing, the consumers interact with the companies, other customers and provide their feedback. It is important for the companies to listen to the feedback of their consumers. It will assist the companies in improvising the products and the services offered by them. In addition, most of the consumers post on the social media as they just want to listen. Responding promptly to them and solving the consumers’ queries will increase the consumer satisfaction in the buying process (Youtube, 2013). The most commonly used social media sites are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The companies use these marketing channels to establish marketing communication and achieve branding goals. The companies share videos, content and images to distinguish themselves from their counterparts, establish a brand image, increasing the traffic to the website, lead conversion, establishing a unique brand identity and enhancing the brand conversion. In the social media marketing, planning is the foremost thing. The companies can emphasize on doing keyword research and research several ideas that can better connect the company to its target market. Moreover, it is also important for the company to create a consistent brand image using the social media. In the social media marketing strategy, the companies use different marketing channels to communicate with their customers. The voice and the environment of each marketing channel is different; however, it is important that the business organizations should create a consistent brand image in all the social media platforms that reflect the core principles of the business. Blogging is also an effective social media strategy to increase the customer base and provide comprehensive information related to the company. The company can blog about contests and events in the company’s blog (Singh and Diamond, 2014).
Role of Big data and predictive marketing
The e-commerce industry is increasingly attracted towards the use of big data to improve the productivity of their operations. The e-commerce companies using big data are having 5-6% higher productivity than the other companies (Akter, Fosso &Wamba, 2016). Big data is highly relevant to the companies in the e-commerce industry as it allows tracking the behaviour of one-time user and turning them into repeated consumers. With big data, the companies can utilize the user data in an effective manner and enhance their decision-making in strategic business decisions. With big data, the companies benefit in buyer-consumer interaction and bargaining or sales monitoring. The companies can also identify loyal customers, determining the prices of the product and identifying the quality issues in the products. Big data and predictive modelling brings together the management talent and technology to support the argument that these three are effectively entangled with each other. Therefore, big data is a holistic approach that builds the competitive advantage of the company by bringing together source, data and skills (Akter, Fosso &Wamba, 2016).
According to Edosio (2014), the cheap computing abilities and the prevalence of internet have increased the popularity of big data in e-commerce companies. In the e-commerce industry, data is not considered as a by-product of the business transactions but as key information to provide insight to the consumer behaviour and adapting the search results and advertisements according to the taste of the customers.
In the e-commerce industry, the data can be differentiated into structured data and unstructured data. The structured data refers to the regular data that a firm captures, like name, address and age. In contrast to it, the unstructured data refers to the data such as likes, preferences, tweets and videos. It provides key insight to the consumer preference and the social trends. Big data and predictive analysis is also important as the e-commerce industry is a dynamic industry and highly competitive industry. Most of the companies in the e-commerce industry are working at very thin margins; therefore, it is important to them to establish their competitive advantage.
In the e-commerce industry, the largest expense comes in the form of consumer acquisition. Since, today the consumers have numerous choices for each product, it becomes critical for the e-commerce companies to convert the lead. In essence, big data and predictive modelling are used to enhance the consumer experience. The companies are using analytics to examine the buying path of consumer and consumer experience. Moreover, the e-commerce companies are using predictive modelling to determine the prices of their products. The companies have to regularly regulate the prices of their products based on the competition and the demand of the product. Predictive modelling is also used to predict what product the consumers are likely to purchase from their shopping behaviour, likes and searches on search engine. A common example of big data in e-commerce business is A/B testing. In this method, the business organizations use two version of web page with different details and use analytics to examine which version will remain more effective (Smith, 2016).
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