I have previously written about my thoughts on desirability within ecommerce HERE. In that essay I discussed feasible models that could cause disruption by understanding that desirability is the principle driver behind commerce. This essay is born from a different, but related, thought process. In it I am discussing how perception is a disrupting factor within desirability and therefore what I contest should be a focus for ecommerce businesses regardless of model used.
This all started with my musing on what are the big commercial drivers, of the main business modules, within modern ecommerce?
My thoughts went something like this:
Bingo! Variability of customer perception has narrowed for Cost but widened for merchandise
“Perception: The recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory.”
If you don’t know something, you have no memory of it, then this lack of knowledge allows a greater variability of its perception. Disruption is created when this variance is exploited. As is written about in great detail; Disruptive Innovation is what allows for the creation of high-growth businesses.
To expand upon my “light-bulb” moment; the Cost to the consumer for online shopping is now well known, there is no longer any great variability of perception that can be exploited. As the understanding of the cost became better know, and trust in shopping online increased, so it became easier to sell non-branded, exclusive merchandise. All of a sudden the merchandise (the principle solution to the customer problem) has become the unknown along with the variability of its perceived value.
As examples that highlight the success of using perception are two successful UK online businesses; NakedWines.com and Made.com. They are both brilliantly executed but the advertised value is due to a supply chain that enforces exclusivity and therefore a level of uncertainty of it true market value to the customer. This is the foundation to their brilliant marketing (the message) to influence the perception of this value to the customer. Ultimately the actual value of their merchandise is good but is it as good as the marketing says or even marketing leading? I cannot answer this but I do question if the marketed story that creates the perception of the value is entirely open. More importantly the methods to drive context of the value, the “Normal Price/Typical high street value” are certainly misleading.
Their growth can therefore be attributed, in large part, to how they have influenced perception of their value, rather than just how good their actual value is. As long as the customers feel happy with their purchase then I applaud them for this especially as a portion of their competitors are using similar tactics.
All these ideas have origins from the acknowledged, first form of modern advertising, created by Claude Hopkins when he grew Schlitz beer from 5th in the US market to first. He did not change a thing to do this. He simply changed the perceived value of the beer to the market.
These examples therefore hint at my answer to my question of what is the biggest commercial driver within modern ecommerce at present.
In Summary: I now consider one of the big commercial drivers as influencing the perception of the current unknowns. Perception has always been a principle disruptive factor behind desirability within commerce. What has changed is the opportunities are moving from the perception of cost to taking advantage of the perception of the merchandise. This influencing of the desirability is executed through a strong (read: simple) consistent message that favourably increases the worth of your solution to the market.