How Amazon and Google are Helping to Accelerate E-Commerce Growth
The danger of COVID-19 has brought the world to a halt. Businesses all over the globe are having to adapt to the constantly changing marketplace and, with retail being one of the hardest hit industries, brands and companies have had to look at e-commerce as a supplement for customers not being able to leave their homes to shop in stores.
Some e-commerce platforms have made changes to their operating strategies to cater to this change and have looked at how to help businesses survive digitally during this unprecedented period and the aftermath.
Amazon’s Venture into the Fashion Market
Following the cancellations of fashion weeks all over the globe, and the 75% drop in clothing retail stores sales across the US, Amazon recently announced its plans to create a digital store where high-end independent clothing designers could market their products.
The endeavour titled, ‘A Common Thread: Vogue x Amazon Fashion,’ is a creative partnership between the E-Commerce giant, Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and solidifies Amazon's footing in the fashion industry. The digital store came into effect following the success of the ‘A Common Threads’ fashion fund, which raised over $4 million USD to help fashion businesses during the pandemic.
The company's theory behind the storefront is to provide access for small- and medium-sized fashion brands to Amazon’s extensive customer base and advanced fulfillment network. In April, during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, Amazon reported a 26% increase in sales compared to the same time last year. This dominance of the online market means that having access to Amazon’s customer base could quite possibly be the saviour for these independent fashion brands, and ensure their survival whilst they exist without physical in-store sales.
The initiative hasn’t however come without criticism, however. Former digital marketer and sales planner for Vogue, Shelby Ivey Christie, tweeted her skepticism that the partnership with Amazon would be effective, citing the algorithm issues depleting exposure for lesser known brands and the importance of reviews in customer confidence with purchasing more expensive products. Fashion writer Alexandra Mondalek also posted a poll on her Twitter account asking where her followers were more likely to purchase luxury fashion items, with only 7% saying they would purchase from Amazon.
Matching this initiative with effective marketing and raising the ‘Common Threads: Vogue x fashion’ platform’s status across different media is essential to ensure this venture accomplishes the task it has set out to achieve.
Google Helping Small Business Growth
Google recently announced that they would be eliminating their payment model for Google Shopping listings, making it more accessible for small businesses to post free, visual product listings. The platform will still house paid advertisements from merchants, although the main navigation pages of the site will consist predominantly of free Google Shopping listings.
Google’s President of Commerce, Bill Ready, confirms, “Search results on the Google Shopping tab will consist primarily of free listings, helping merchants better connect with consumers, regardless of whether they advertise on Google.”
This move by Google to directly reach out and help small businesses gain a footing in the E-Commerce market, by having free access to Google’s extensive user base, is part of it’s long-term strategy to directly compete with the Amazon Marketplace and boost its prominence in online shopping. The attraction for small businesses to unite with the platform and list their products with this new free initiative will certainly increase Google’s awareness amongst consumers and provide another channel for retail sales growth.
Along with changes in Google Shopping, the company has also made it’s digital video meeting tool ‘Meet’ for businesses completely free to all Google users. This is an attempt to directly compete with video meeting platform ‘Zoom,’ with Google now providing small businesses with the opportunity to save costs in virtual meetings by hosting them free of charge on the site. Smita Hashim, the Director of Product Management at Google Cloud, stated that, “With COVID, video conferencing is really becoming an essential service and we have seen video conferencing usage really go up… from a leadership perspective, the message was really: how can Google be more and more helpful”.
Another initiative by Google has been the “Rising Retail Categories” feature on it’s ‘Think With Google’ platform. The platform is a feature for businesses to look at consumer insights and gain access to trend reports and best practice guidelines. The new Rising Retail Categories will provide data in respect to fast-growing product categories in Google Search, the geographical locations they’re growing in, and the queries associated with them. This provides businesses with the insights to better cater their product promotion and diversify their content creation and product ideas to match the rising interests of consumers.
Moving with the Times
As Amazon and Google have clearly led the way as the two predominant companies in E-Commerce, more and more platforms need to follow suit to ensure that customers have access to retail in the confinement of their homes and businesses continue to maintain and increase sales. The epidemic has stopped people from rubbing shoulders in busy malls and retail stores but it shouldn’t stop that from happening in the digital world. Retailers need to be savvy in how they stay afloat in these difficult times.