The internet is a phenomenon in itself. The rate of which it has been adopted is huge and the rate it changes is incredible.
This post is tackling the psychological & sociological implications of online marketing, advertising and e-commerce.
In the early days of the internet it was only used by those who could, not necessarily for a purpose, but to see what could be done. As the Internets popularity grew, business’s caught onto the potential market that the internet provided and the early adopters of e-commerce are now among some of the biggest e-commerce websites in the world, for example Amazon and eBay.
Advantages & Disadvantages
There are both advantages and disadvantages to e-commerce for both the business and the customers. Bricks and mortar is a traditional method of going about commerce. You will have the costs of a building and the resources to run it. Also staff to manage & run the premises. With this the potential market is significantly lower than an online business. It is physically impossible to target China if your premises was situated in the UK. With e-commerce you get the benefit of being able to target the entire world and not just a specific area. This means there is a much higher chance of being able to sell your products/services as the potential market is far greater. This has an advantage for the consumer as well, the ability to potentially find products that may not be accessible from your area/country.
By taking a business online the cost is being lowered for both the business owner and the consumer. It requires less man power to run an online store than to run a traditional store. With money being saved for the businesses they can then pass some of these savings to the consumer therefore being far more competitive with shops on a high street & other online retailers.
With the increase of internet enabled devices such as smartphones, tablets, even fridges! The internet is becoming even more pervasive with the ability to access it from so many different pieces of technology.
Accessibility has been the key to the success of e-commerce. The easier something is to access, the more likely people are going to view information or products and so on. Due to the internet and information on the internet being available to anybody with an internet enabled device anywhere they have an internet connection, people are becoming lazy; People are much less likely to go to a shop due to the ease that e-commerce websites provide. In some circumstances bricks and mortar are the preferred choice. This can depend on what the consumer is looking for and also if they understand online shopping. The web is changing rapidly and the technology is also improving which means that websites are becoming far easier to use and to find which in turn attracts more consumers.
Usability is also another key point in having a successful e-commerce website. The biggest names on the web today are there because they understand how there users want to use their websites. Internet users are not the most patient of people, they want a reaction almost instantly and with a slow loading site, decide to leave and find another source. The internet has provided people with a “god-like power” and feel they can do anything online with incredible ease and speed.
So far so good? Everything points to the advantages of e-commerce.
You do loose that personal touch and the friendly feel of a physical shop when online. You cannot feel the products you are buying, which can potentially put people off depending on the situation. Sometimes you will order a product online and not have the same way of processing the size of a product or feel of a product. This process will actually take longer when you think that you have to order the item, wait for it to be delivered, then feel and physically see the item and then make a decision if it was what you wanted or not. You will then have to return it and receive something else in its place which could potentially take a few days.
With the advances in technology and the internet and what is known as web 2.0 giving users the ability to create content, it open up doors to scams. One very simple example of this is the fact that you can sell something online within minutes. Places such as eBay provide a market place for anybody to sell online which is fantastic and provides many benefits to people but some people will take advantages of that and could use it to sell fake or stolen products. I have been deceived on eBay and bought a fake product and however good the product was, it was still a lie, and I felt betrayed so returned the item.
With anything, people can become addicted to the use of something. Smoking, drinking, drugs & gambling are all addictive and seriously affect people lives. People have been known to lose all of their money, their jobs, their house and even their families. It doesn’t start this way though. It starts off small and slowly progresses to larger and more frequent bets until the point where it causes serious financial issues. You could argue the fact that an addiction to online gambling is the same as an addiction to traditional forms of gambling and that gambling has just evolved with the popularity of the internet. People have been addicted to gambling before the internet existed so really the internet is just another means of gambling that happens to be far more accessible.
Advertising online is quite brilliant in the way that it has evolved. It started off in the more traditional fashion of just advertising products with promotional media such as banners and videos and emails. The brilliant part of advertising in recent years is the fact that it is tailored to the user. I can be looking at a website for a review on a product and see to one side they are advertising products I previously looked at on Amazon. Recently I was looking at buying a DSLR camera and a high majority of advertisements I saw afterwards were based around DLSR’s. I did in fact buy one when I didn’t necessarily need it; I just wanted it to turn photography into a hobby. This can benefit you in the sense that it provides you with personalised advertisements for products that you may want or are appealing to you and with a price to match and encourage you to buy it. That same fact is also its downfall. With online gambling, there are people who have become addicted to online shopping resulting in potentially catastrophic effects. If you look somewhere in-between these two points though you can argue the fact that it is just encouraging people to buy things they don’t need but just feel the need for. It’s much harder to avoid the urge to spend when everywhere you look online, there is some form of advertising.
There are a high quantity of advertisements for online gambling websites which personally can only be negative as it is encouraging people to gamble. Gambling addiction has a massive effect on people’s lives and not just the people who gamble to excess, it’s the family and friends and people around them that are also effected.
Well, there isn’t necessarily a conclusion. This look into e-commerce has shown both the advantages and disadvantages to e-commerce and the potential effects it can have on society and individuals. I personally love shopping online and will continue to for the advantages and also the love of technology and how far we have come with the internet especially.
It will be interesting to see what the e-commerce industry evolves into with the rapid growth of the industry and how it will further effect society.