The playing field has changed a lot in business and entrepreneurship over the past decades. Business as it was done in the past will remain a thing of the past. Today many of the new age millionaires are entrepreneurs who have been able to embrace the technological revolution and live in the information age comfortably. The information age presents entrepreneurs today with many opportunities for success. Today, any business that is not online is missing a huge opportunity. I have come across many entrepreneurs who said that their business is brick and mortar, it found success as a brick-and-mortar business and it will remain this way. I always say to these people who it will be only a matter of time before they realize they are fooling themselves.
I had a conversation with an entrepreneur about utilizing social media and other online tools to promote his business. He said to me that his business has been operating in that area for the past 30 years and everyone knows him there. I then went on to ask him if the people living around him are the same people who has been there for the past 30 years. As entrepreneurs, we need to understand that people change over time, and so do their preferences for doing business.
Social media has revolutionize the way we do business over the past years; social media allows businesses to have a conversation with their customers and not just a one-way flow of information like traditional media allowed. Social media can, however, make or break a business and it needs to be used with care.
E-commerce is one of the biggest trends in business around the world. Consumers are finding it much more convenient to go online and make their purchases through an online store. Many businesses have their e-commerce store and in the absence of one, apps such as Shopify will allow you to build an online store to sell your products. Even Facebook is allowing its users to build their own online store to do business.
Some of the biggest trends to watch out for in 2014 as it relates to e-commerce include:
1. Enhance customer experience: Many companies will need to enhance the experience for their customers shopping online. People will need to have a positive and engaging experience with your brand beyond just the purchase.
2. Mobile: Very soon people will use their mobile devices to do everything, much of the purchases being made today are from a mobile device and this will only continue to grow. Every website will need to be mobile friendly and mobile optimized.
3. Content marketing: Many businesses will get involved in writing blog post and creating content that will be engaging to customers and lead them back to their websites.
4. Online branding: This involves business and personal branding. Your brand is not what you say you are, it's what your customers say you are. You don't determine your brand you only manage it, and this is what will get most of these businesses more serious about their online branding efforts in 2014.
5. Delivery: Having customers purchase something online and having to wait long periods for it will become a thing of the past, many companies are starting to perfect same-day delivery and in 2014 we will see much more of that.
We know of many e-commerce companies, such as Amazon, eBay, and others, are very popular around the world originating from North America. One company that has been able to make e-commerce work for them in an impressive manner is www.jumia.com.eg. JUMIA is Africa's leading online shopping destination. Customers across the continent can shop amongst the widest assortment of high-quality products at affordable prices -- offering everything from fashion, consumer electronics, home appliances to beauty products. What I am very impressed about with Jumia is that it's located in Africa. Though it is really a venture of the German firm Rocket Internet, it has shown that it's truly possible to stay local and reach global, and proves that Africa is not getting left behind where e-commerce is concerned.
The Internet will provide businesses today with the necessary competitive advantage they need to be successful in today's business climate. Failure to embrace the Internet and everything that comes with it could lead to complete business failure.