Mahima Narula on the E-Commerce Revolution

As more and more people shop online, industry experts say that e-Commerce has the potential to eclipse traditional retail shopping. And with the increasing number of mobile sales transactions, this transition could happen sooner than we think.

Launched in 1999 as an exclusive online purveyor of floral arrangements and gifts, Flora2000 is a particularly good example of an e-commerce company that’s successfully taken traditional gift giving into the 21st century. Over the years, the brand has expanded its network across the world and presently has the largest network of vendors with delivery in over 190 countries. According to Mahima Narula, business head at Flora2000, nearly 170 million people live outside the countries in which they were born, an important—and lucrative—market for companies like Flora2000. Many of their customers, for example, regularly purchase products to be delivered to friends and loved ones back home.

E-commerce companies are especially adept at serving business travelers, whether they are flying around the globe or driving from one town to the next. With just a couple of keystrokes, a department head can arrange for his or her entire team to receive a “job well done” gift from any number of websites. Similarly, online retailers like Red Envelope and Birchbox make it easy to shop for just about anyone on your list, from a loved one to a business associate. Online dating companies, like Zoosk, offer easy-to-use apps while many social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are now serving as a backdrop for those seeking love.  “Tweetup” or Twitter meet-ups, occur between people who meet at an event organized through Twitter.

Social media, whether it’s Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or Facebook, offers another opportunity for e-Commerce companies to increase their customer base. Creating an online presence opens up tremendous opportunities for marketing campaigns like product launches and contests. Social media also increases a company’s visibility. And the content potential is infinite.

Another critical piece is research. It is essential for e-Commerce companies to reach out to two important groups: customers who’ve already purchased products (“retention”) and those they’re trying to attract (“acquisition”). To keep the customers they have, companies maintain communications by regularly sending out newsletters, implementing loyalty programs, and staying engaged through social media. To acquire more customers, the companies must constantly seek ways improve their SEO rankings, collaborate with various affiliates, use pay-per-click ads if appropriate, and maintain active public relations campaigns.

And it’s always good business to keep an eye on what other online purveyors are doing to snag more business. Amazon’s warehouse building spree and Ebay’s social pop-up store in London are good examples of e-Commerce companies embracing portions of traditional retail models in order to increase revenue.

Listen to the podcast here.