The revival of the website
#9 of my Tech Predictions for 2022
A power battle over consumer relationships is about to take off. Companies and Brands will fight to take back ownership over customer data, content, and relationships. And Social Media and Online Platforms look to be the losers in this fight.
For the last ten years, we have been talking about the death of the website. And in China, it almost happened since more or less all online user traffic is centered around the large Multipurpose Super apps like WeChat and Alipay and the big video platforms like Douyin, Pin Duo Duo, and Kuaishoi.
In our part of the world, companies have for the last ten years spent all their energy on pushing the customer relationship onto Social Media or left the initiative to industry platforms like Booking.com (travel), Just Eat (takeaway), or Hotels.com (hotels)in the belief that this would be cheaper and better. Only to wake up to the harsh truth that these platforms not only end up owning your customers but also take a 30% cut of your revenue. And very often companies find that these platforms are tough to work with and really can´t be trusted. They own your content, your customers, and your customer data. And they might even sell your data to your competitors. Because that´s part of their business model.
The Times They Are A-changin’
New strong regulations — especially from the EU — however, mean that Online Platforms´ ability to slice and dice data to deliver razor-sharp segmentation is disappearing. An investigation by Financial Times found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube already lost around $10 billion in revenue following Apple’s changes to its privacy practices, where only 4% chose to allow for personal tracking going forward.
If you then add the fact that Google has announced that they will remove third-party cookies. It might be time to change direction and start thinking about going direct to your consumers for a first-party relationship.
The question is whether it is too late? In the US, 57% of B2C e-commerce sales flow through marketplaces today. In China, it’s 98%. But we´re learning that marketplaces and online platforms are as much enemy as friends — turning up sales volume at the expense of stealing a brand’s soul.
So, now is the time for brands to fight back with every technology and weapon in the arsenal. Revitalizing the Brand- and e-commerce website to become a destination in itself. That means creating a much better and more immersive shopping experience and turning every touchpoint into a shopping moment. But you also need more inspirational content, better counseling tools, more personalized services, and full 24/7 online customer support to compete with the major platforms and marketplaces. Not a simple task. But nevertheless, necessary for brands and e-commerce players to take back the ownership.
Liveshopping will help bring customers home
A great example of a successful omnichannel transformation is Matas in Denmark. They now offer different online tools like a digital skin test, a virtual makeup mirror, visual search (point your camera at a product to buy it), and both one-to-one and one-to-many liveshopping.
Liveshopping is one of the new ways to engage the users. I wrote about Liveshopping last year and predicted that it would break ground here in 2021. That definitely happened. This new channel will continue to grow because it is a great way of creating a physical shopping experience on your e-commerce website.
the heat is on
I predict a heated battle between Online Platforms, Social Media, and Brands about customer ownership. This will lead to increased web development budgets and a slew of upgraded and relaunched Brand e-commerce websites and Direct to Consumer initiatives.