Google, Amazon, Apple, And Facebook: What eBusiness Executives Need To Know For 2012

Nearly 50% of web shoppers start their research process on Amazon or Google.  Over 40% of the world’s Internet traffic constitutes daily visits to Facebook and Google. Twenty-one percent and 49% of iPhone and iPad owners respectively purchasing products via these devices. Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook not only absorb consumer time but are quickly becoming gateways for other eBusiness traffic. This makes the Big Four critical in the product research and sales funnel.  In our recently published report, “Google, Amazon, Apple, And Facebook: What eBusiness Executives Need To Know For 2012” we help eBusiness professionals identify what’s on the horizon for these companies and what it means for them. Some key findings of the report include the following:

  • Google has broad ambitions to support (or displace) incumbent eBusinesses. While Google struggles to move beyond its paid search roots, eBusiness professionals will need to keep the company top of mind because it maintains a majority share of online marketing spend but promises to transform every industry from financial services to travel to health care and retail.
  • Amazon is disrupting retail economics. While Amazon has the smallest market cap of the four players, it is completely changing the dynamics of manufacturers and distributors.
  • Apps can be powerful tools to support eBusiness objectives. Companies that see apps as just extensions of web content are missing the many opportunities to enrich experiences with cameras, microphones, speakers, accelerometers, and location-sensing capabilities.
  • Facebook is more akin to television than to traditional interactive marketing.  Facebook has broad reach but seems to work best when building awareness and driving “top of funnel” activity, much of which is not where interactive marketers focus their budgets. 

What does this all mean? Should retailers throw in the towel now to avoid being flattened by these tech giants? No. Savvy eBusiness professionals should understand where these companies can help, but more importantly learn from their flexible, agile, and tech-centric approaches to growth.  Forrester clients can read the full report here for a full analysis.



Analyze Consumer Type/Type of Behaviour

What I found most interesting this past year is the change in consumer behavior brought on by daily deal sites such as Groupon etc. Do consumers do less research before their online shopping and become more passive? It seems like many consumers like receiving deals into their inbox, relying on those who offer those deals that they are really great deals, and so spend less time researching ("online window shopping") and working out what is really the best deal for them - the consumers.
What is the trigger that would turn consumers back into active shoppers? If any?

daily deals are more buzz than seismic change

The daily deals space is still relatively small. Keep in mind that eCommerce is collectively more than $200B not even including eBay. Amazon is a much bigger force with respect to shifting how people shop. In fact, more people start their shopping journey at Amazon than ever before, and that is a bigger disruptive force particularly for bricks and mortar retailers that sell commodity products at mediocre prices. What retailers need to do is start to "break the Amazon habit" before it gets too powerful. Retailers need to create their own compelling shipping and loyalty efforts that lock shoppers in and span channels. ShopRunner is a start but it's at a fundamental disadvantage because it's a for-profit model. Retailers need to figure out how they can challenge Amazon Prime.

Will it always depend on the retailers, or can shoppers change?

What I mean is, that while the social web has changed so many habits and industries - by sheer wisdom of the crowds, power of the people etc, in eCommerce it seems like no matter what shoppers want, the retailers, especially the giants like Amazon, but also smaller retailers, will shape how the market behaves and the shoppers' habits too. So when the big ones decide it's a free shipping, the smaller ones have to follow, but it seems to be a retailer's decision, not the shoppers' decision. And so are, obviously the prices.
There was a time when people were wondering about Wikipedia, asking, how is it that "ordinary people" can be expected to write the content of an encyclopedia. No one believed people had enough knowledge to do it.
I'm asking, can shoppers be smart enough to know what they want and define their terms of a deal, or will they forever remain passive in accepting the retailers' given terms?