The Internet environment defines B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce serving end consumers with products and services. B2C e-commerce is steadily recovering from the technology-heavy NASDAQ crumble in 2000 with the dotcom carnage and shutdown of hundreds of virtual platforms. The growing fears about identity theft and the criminal activities of hackers do not seem to affect shoppers' shopping habits and their appreciation of the possibilities of the Internet.
The statistics look great for Internet marketing. North American shoppers alone spent $172 billion shopping online in 2005, up from $3.8 billion in 2000. A Forrester Research expert report projects an online consumer spending rising from 39% growth in 2005 to 48% ($329 billion) in 2010 going forward. This is due to the possibilities of personalized marketing through e-commerce which effectively honors the voice of the customer and creating a larger market (with high volumes in monetized preferences) for B2Cs.
With B2C e-commerce, products are showcased on the Internet (along with online catalogues) made visible to consumers-a business model that literally reduces transaction costs. Customers can also get better access to product information, broadening the selection available to them. The B2C e-commerce model is a unique way for businesses and consumers to interact-a consumer-focused and product-driven marketing model. It maximizes the value of the transaction with the opportunity for a large target market. It involves a single step buying process, with shorter sales cycle.
There is also the potential of creating brand identity through repetition and imagery, and the possibilities of merchandizing and point of purchase activities. And most importantly, the buyers' emotional perspective about purchases from B2C e-commerce and providing critical knowledge about what motivates buyers. Consumers make buying decisions based on status, security, comfort and quality. Successful B2C companies' marketing strategies involve merchandising activities like coupons, email campaigns, store fronts (both real and Internet) offers to entice the target market and to cultivate loyalty. Amazon, Best Buy, and Staples combine merchandising and education to keep customers coming back. Add great customer service, and you get a winning combination.
The B2C buyer usually looks for the best price and will research the competition prior to shopping. Trust factor is therefore crucial too-the buyer wants to be convinced he could trust the online retail outlet. A solid B2C customer service is a plus and helps build customer loyalty where customers will be willing to pay a slightly higher price to know that they can return the product easily and outlet source is trustworthy. Also, partnerships with online collaborative platforms such as Oracle, MSN, Yahoo, eBay, PayPal, CNet Networks, and AOL Time Warner, among others, help expand the target market.
Providing services like product education, free shipping, and customer service over the phone and even financing through partnerships with banks are all marketing strategies that work. The creation of compelling materials that build awareness for a brand, enhance buyers' comfort in buying, and project quality service and best price. What is important to the target audience is what matters, and to create the marketing programs to speak to them.
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