Americans spent a record $5 billion in 24 hours in online sales on Black Friday, with mobile representing 47% of online traffic according to Adobe Digital Insights.

Buying online is the new norm and consumers have become savvy e-commerce shoppers, knowing where to find the best deals and what they want to purchase. Today’s digital marketplace has shifted the buying power to consumers, creating a consumer-to-business market(C2B).

In the past, it was a business-to-consumer (B2C) world; Businesses leveraged traditional media channels such as TV, print or radio to inform consumers on product and service offering(s).

If for example, someone is in the market for a new computer, he/she no longer sift through newspapers or wait to see an ad on TV to learn about the latest model; They will search Google and social media, relying on their trusted social network(s) for referrals. Consumers consult websites like PC Mag or Consumer Reports to learn what others have to say through online reviews. Long-tail searches (a multi-word search like “best laptop for graphic design”) are used as countless websites are visited to find the exact computer model for the price he/she is willing to pay. A highly customizable experience based on technology, data-driven marketing, and the limitless capabilities of e-commerce has created a shift from the traditional seller-centric marketplace to a buyer-centric marketplace where shoppers expect, demand, and most often get exactly what they want.

With so many choices on the internet, online shopping can be overwhelming. Businesses are expected to anticipate shoppers’ demands with highly personalized results, filtering out the noise before that buyer move on to another site. Understanding how consumers are interacting with a brand across multiple touch-points such as a website, physical, mobile, or social media is necessary for providing the personalized experience consumers expect in today’s digital age.

Consumer-to-Business Model

Businesses used to rely on target marketing to match their products and service offerings to meet consumer needs and wants, controlling much of the flow of information and access to those choices.

That helpful print ad telling the consumer about their “large selection of appliances” for example, was supposed to be useful information that the consumer would store and then act on the next time he/she was shopping for a new refrigerator. Sellers told what they offered and consumers listened, knowing what they were in the market for, and a sale would result if there was a match.

The C2B market operates in a reverse auction setting in which the buyers set parameters for demand and companies rush to fill them., for example, provides a “name your price” service. Consumers decide what they are willing to pay and where and when they will travel. If Priceline cannot deliver on the terms set, those potential buyers typically leave and move onto Orbitz, Expedia or countless other alternatives. If the interface is poorly designed or difficult to navigate, that consumer may post an online review and share their disappointing customer experience.

Buyer-Centric Marketplace

Consumer demand has and always will drive business but here is what’s different; if the physical store doesn’t provide the selection and experience I want, I would have to leave and drive to a different store. It’s just easier to stay and complete the purchase.

In the digital space, it is the reverse; it is easier to leave a website and move on to another than it is to navigate through a poorly designed interface.

In the buyer-centric marketplace, convenience and simplicity drive the shopping experience. For example, I do not shop on Amazon because I feel they understand me as a person or to browse their endless selection. I shop on Amazon because, within seconds, Amazon displays exactly what I want along with suggestions of what products I will like and I can complete my purchase with 1-Click. Because Amazon is leveraging the data being collected, such as my purchase history, they are usually right.

“Nope, Coke beats Pepsi Hands down!”

Emotional brands have a considerable influence on buying behavior. Consumers may continue to undergo a powerful ongoing loyalty to specific brands as they feel it as part of their identity. Consumers become as passionate about a particular brand as they do to their hometown sports teams; that pride of ownership is an emotional connection with the brand.

The brand experience on Amazon

For years, Nike did not believe it needed Amazon and Forbes shared how last summer, Nike finally opened up an Amazon shop to boost its’ e-commerce sales, giving Nike access to Amazon’s loyal customer base and could result in $300–500 million in additional revenue. Not only does this grant Nike access to Amazon’s vast customer database, but it will also allow for Nike to manage its’ brand experience by getting better control over how Nike products are displayed and sold on Amazon’s platform. With an ambitious goal of reaching $50 billion in revenue by 2020, Nike is forecasting approximately $7 billion in sales from its e-commerce channels, and its partnership with Amazon is likely to drive these revenues.

Creating a personalized shopping experience using digital and social technology

Recently, a consumer study developed by TurnTo called “Hearing the Voice of the Consumer”, was conducted by Ipsos. The research study examined what motivates e-commerce shoppers, how they prefer to shop and the impact and influence user-generated content (UGC) plays in shaping the consumer experience and building long-term engagement once a purchase has been made User-generated content (UGC) is defined as ratings, reviews, photos, videos, social posts and Q&A participation.

Results from the study showed 90% shoppers report UGC influences their decisions to make a purchase, outranking all other forms of marketing including search engine and promotional emails. 81% of consumers are also willing to pay more and wait longer for products paired with UGC.

“Shoppers are more sophisticated and marketers must understand discounts and free shipping offers are simply table stakes,” said Jim Davidson, director of research, TurnTo Networks. “Consumers demand a more engaging shopping experience; they’re looking to fellow shoppers to answer questions about products and share insights about purchases. This study demonstrates UGC is outpacing traditional marketing tools when it comes to increasing shopper confidence and influencing decisions. Marketers who want to connect with the consumer must find ways to incorporate UGC into each step of the customer journey — not just the product page.”

Personalized experiences consumers value in today’s marketplace

Manheim is well on its way to delivering the industry’s first omnichannel experience through its new 24/7 marketplace, creating a first-of-its-kind experience that will offer many touchpoints to meet the needs and preferences of buyers and sellers effectively, whether inlane, online, through a mobile device or on a dealer’s lot.

In 2018, Manheim will continue to evolve and personalize the client’s experience as exciting new touchpoints continue to roll out such as:

  • Customizable Storefronts making it much easier to locate and manage inventory across all channels.
  • OVE search providing each individual user customized and relevant search results based on their prior behavior to get the right inventory in front of the right buyers at the right time.
  • Mobile app improvements will support client use of the Marketplace and simplify the appraisal and inventory posting process.
  • Seller tool advancements is a new tool that will link Marketplace channels, putting comprehensive options at sellers’ fingertips, including the ability to easily list inventory on multiple digital channels to obtain greater vehicle value before consigning it to a physical auction.

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