E-commerce has now become the ideal choice for consumers when purchasing their needs and wants, as well as entrepreneurs when setting up their business. As evidence, e-commerce sales increased by 93% in May 2020, when the pandemic was at its height. In the US alone, online grocery sales also increased by 110% between March and April 2020.
Not only do e-commerce platforms offer convenience in terms of logistics (both consumers and sellers no longer need to leave their homes just to buy or sell goods), but they also offer products at more affordable prices as businesses no longer have to pay the overhead costs for running physical stores. And it’s these sales and low prices that further attract customers online.
Let’s further look into the impact of e-commerce platforms in today’s world and how it has changed the way businesses hold sales.
Impact of Online Sale Events
E-commerce is creating its own game with the rise of online sale events. According to Digital Commerce 360, e-commerce platforms have surpassed sales of physical stores in the US. As such, sale events have made e-commerce websites become a more prominent marketplace.
In 2019, Alibaba.com did their annual 11.11 sale, or their “Singles Day” sale, which was also replicated by other e-commerce platforms. A specific component to its success was the meaning behind 11.11: the 1’s represent single sticks or single people celebrating the day together. As a result, Alibaba outdid their gross merchandise value record from 2018, which was 213.5 Billion Yuan ($30.3 Billion) and reached the value of 268.4 Billion Yuan ($38.2 Billion) due to the sale. The 11.11 sale even overpassed Cyber Monday and Black Friday sales in the US, as stated in a CNBC report.
That same year, Lazada, another e-commerce platform under the Alibaba Group, also showed great success with their 12.12 sale, with 6.6 million items sold within the first 24 hours. It was also noted that 12,000+ sellers joined Lazada’s Millionaires Club, which is their celebratory group of sellers who have reached the 1-million pesos sales mark. With all these success cases, it’s clear that e-commerce plays a big role in the global economy.
FIRST AD, FIRST CLICK
E-commerce platforms rely on a lot of paid online advertisements. Online ads depend on the strategic bids that they get from each company. For instance, Lazada uses the “target outranking share bid strategy” by Google, which essentially helps companies outrank competitors through their bids in order to maintain the first online ad spot. In an interview with Google, Baptiste Le Gal, Senior VP of Search and Display Marketing of the Lazada Group explains that the strategy helped them outbid competitors, triple their position above rate, and expand their outrank share by more than 280%.
Online ads are effective because they are able to directly familiarize consumers when they look for a store or product online. The International Journal of Research in Marketing states that paid search advertising has had a significant effect on short-term firm performance on sales. Furthermore, surveys show that search engine advertising is the most preferred way of online advertising by entrepreneurs because of its ability to target large and specific groups of consumers.
“FOMO” RHYMES WITH PROMO
Another reason why online sales have generated massive revenues and traffic for many e-commerce companies is because majority of these internet-wide events are only held for a day. Since consumers are only given a limited time to avail special discounts, the deals offered by Lazada and Shopee during their online sales become that much more valuable. Consumers' “fear of missing out” or “FOMO” during these sales events largely reflect what the “scarcity principle” dictates.
Dr. Robert Cialdini’s “scarcity principle” states that people tend to want more of a product or service if it is less available. One thing sellers can do to apply this concept is to make it clear that customers may lose opportunities if they do not avail of the product or service immediately. In the case of large online sales, this can be done by reducing the sale period. This way, customers will certainly not want to miss out on the amazing deals.
ACHIEVE SALE SUCCESS
Over the past few years, online sales events held by large e-commerce platforms have accomplished so much for the industry. However, these achievements come with a lot of costs. To accomplish this kind of success, thousands of paid online advertisements for these events are shared all over Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, TikTok, and other paid acquisition channels many weeks before the event. Additionally, these large e-commerce companies also take advantage of their existing user database by engaging in email marketing campaigns.
However, e-commerce platforms can ensure the success of their own sales events by holding it at the right time. For example, Filipinos often make more purchases when they are not busy with work, with data on household consumption expenditure showing that the amount of sales generated by businesses spike right when the summer and Christmas seasons roll around.
Large e-commerce companies know that there is a large demand for a variety of products during these periods and have been using these seasonal buying windows to decide when they can hold large online sales events. As such, smaller businesses can also bank on these seasons and follow the example of various market leaders.
Many people assume that only buyers benefit from these price reductions. However, holding sales can also bring new customers to online businesses, encouraging unplanned purchases, preventing shopping cart abandonment, and drastically increasing revenue.
In addition, new digital advertising methods and consumer behavior studies have also ensured the beneficial impacts of these consumer incentives to any business, no matter how big or how small. As such, it is becoming clearer that holding big discount sales is a marketing strategy that every business should take into consideration.
- Written by Angela Acorda and Dani Capinding