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E-commerce enters third age

27 January 2012 - 10:52 by Graham Miller

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People in the UK have been able to carry out safe shopping online for well over a decade, but e-commerce platforms have evolved so much in recent years, that some experts believe we are almost ready for the third generation of retail web tools.

Most insiders are ready to admit that the shape and format of E-commerce 3.0, as it is being called, is still largely unknown, although BBC News reports that some people are having a stab at defining it in its nascent form.

In the early days, E-commerce 1.0 was simply about creating websites that would allow visitors to purchase products directly. In the second age of safe shopping online, the retailers learnt that they could not only entice people in by stocking items that they wanted to buy, but also keep them coming back to refill their baskets by using special offers and suggesting similar products that might be desirable.

E-commerce expert, Sonali de Rycker, said that online shopping was evolving to encompass social elements that it was sorely missing in the past.

She pointed out that retail on the high street had traditionally been an engaging, social affair, which is something that online outlets could not replicate in early years. Now with E-commerce 3.0, it is thought that social networking, user ratings and customer sharing will all combine.

Retailers are no longer simply putting ads on websites and hoping for the best, but they are actively running campaigns which encourage customers to get involved and share their experience with their connected friends and family, via Facebook and its contemporaries.

Companies are now not just promoting offers and services via social networking, but actively elevating their brands and getting indirect feedback, as people share the links and initiatives they provide online to great effect.