Social CRM

EXPERT ADVICE

Connectivity: The New Currency

The trend toward an “always on, always connected” lifestyle driven by the use of social networks andmobile technology has, if nothing else, groomed consumers to become demanding in their expectationsof the online experience. Unfortunately, the e-commerce experience has changed little since early daysand, until recently, continued to be a process more to be endured than enjoyed.

The growing adoptionof more open commerce models, however, is resulting in a shift away from clunky, repetitive dataentry-oriented commerce models to a more immersive experience that combines the broad catalog ofan “app” store with SaaS-based rich-content plugins and an end-to-end payment platform.

Two-thirds of all Internet usershave paid to access or download digital content at least once, according to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. With today’s children and adolescents growing into voracious consumers of digital content, the trend toward open commerce will onlybecome more pronounced.

As technology advances continue to make it easier to connect via improvedbroadband and 4G connectivity, accompanied by the continued adoption of smartphones, tabletsand other mobile devices, e-marketers will need to evolve their strategies to fulfill consumers’ desireswhenever, wherever they want to buy.

Open Commerce Is Social

To be sure, social networking has blurred the lines between where one site ends and another begins,letting consumers jump between experiences without changing applications or scrolling throughscreens.

Facebook and its hundreds of thousands of apps provide a perfect example of an opencommerce platform in which users interact with games and other software owned and distributed by anumber of distinct publishers, all embedded within the single experience of the Facebook.com domain.

Many — if not most — will simply abandon the purchase when faced with a payment process perceivedas too burdensome. The inability of traditional e-commerce systems to provide this level of convenienceand to adapt to evolving consumer needs represents a significant barrier to optimizing product revenuepotential.

Today’s new consumers of digital goods and services experience their online world through the contextof social networks, rather than just the search-and-discovery paradigm of search engines. Insteadof relying on algorithms to identify the online experiences they want to enjoy, new consumers aresearching, sharing and purchasing based on their trusted social graph. This behavioral shift requires thatthe experience of consuming paid goods and services mirror the path consumers take to find them.

Open commerce offers social media clear advantages compared to traditional models. Indeed, opencommerce models are crucial to the social media experience, which strives to provide users real connectivity without any technology hurdles.

With more than 72 percent of the Internet-connectedpopulation active on one or more social network, social media will play an increasingly important role– especially given the fact that the demographic of the heaviest users of the media overlaps nicely withthe key purchase demographic of consumers aged 20 to 29 years old.

Social Ties Can Boost Monetization

The adoption of open commerce platforms should improve monetization across the entire spectrumof sites, whether directly tied to social media or not. As pervasive as e-commerce might seem to thoseof us in the business, less than a quarter of the global population has made any typeof purchase online. As Internet access becomes more prevalent worldwide, thepurchase of digital goods and services will continue to experience significant market increases.

As the online target expands, the challenge will not be finding the audience, but embracingplatforms and techniques that reduce friction in the monetization of digital content via well-integratedopen commerce solutions. These sophisticated systems will need to optimize revenue while drivingboth customer acquisition and retention.

More than ever before, sellers will have the opportunity to tapinto this market quickly — but only if they are able to build an open commerce infrastructure in house,add outside payment functionality to their current systems, or outsource their e-commerce paymentsolutions to established, third-party global payment platforms.

The emergence of open commerce platforms means that merchants are no longer constrained by a1990s model, and new licensing models will increasingly become available. As an engagement strategy,frictionless and well-integrated open commerce platforms can be a powerful marketing tool thatincreases satisfaction for the connected consumer, while driving transactional volume.

Hagai Tal is CEO of BlueSnap, a global provider of open commerce technology and services thatmaximize revenue through recurring payment solutions.

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