When ecommerce first happened, it put a level of knowledge and choice into the hands of consumers never seen before. Consumers had no reason anymore to pay uncompetitive prices at local retailers, just because they didn’t know where to find dependable pricing information.

Shoppers looking for pricing information have actually turned Amazon Google‘s biggest competitor, even if it isn’t a general-purpose search engine. AliBaba, the b2b shopping site, isn’t far behind. Reasonable prices and dependable pricing information through ecommerce sites have also laid waste to entire tracts of the brick-and-mortar retail economy.

Over the past five years, the rise of the smartphone has produced change even more profound: the evolution of e-commerce into mobile commerce or m-commerce. The ability of consumers to check prices, look for options and shop every free moment that they may have has revolutionized ecommerce. According to Goldman Sachs, m-commerce will account for half of the e-commerce economy by year 2018.

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Ecommerce websites, then, are finding that they need to adapt and evolve. Services that fail to aim themselves squarely at the mobile customer are likely to be left behind.

The switch to apps and responsive design

Ecommerce sites are undoubtedly easier to navigate on computers. Computers tend to have more dependable connections to the Internet, they offer larger screens and multitasking. Nevertheless, mobile apps often win out because they are always available. They allow consumers to take advantage of every impulse, and every free moment to shop. Retailers who offer streamlined user interfaces win. Apps and websites with responsive design that make for superior user experience are essential in this environment. Successful retailers invariably use them.

With m-commerce expanding the reach of consumers and their ability to shop on impulse, small retailers tend to focus on staying ready for unexpected bursts of demand. The move towards cloud-based hosting is one result of this tendency. Using advanced technology such as iSeries servers, these hosting solutions offer retailers dynamic server capacity elasticity.

E-commerce retailers are optimizing by gender

Research finds that male consumers who are mobile prefer phones to shop online with, and female consumers prefer tablets. Ecommerce businesses have been optimizing their websites for different platforms, then, depending on the consumer profile targeted.

Content marketing is becoming even bigger

The movie The Martian featured AOC display devices everywhere, and The Minority Report featured Kawasaki products. Product placement used to be big news. Now, marketing is almost entirely about content — marketers now think nothing of commissioning novels, newspaper stories and movies simply to have their products appear in them. Text-based content marketing is highly popular among retailers. Sellers are beginning to run huge websites full of quality, text-based content simply to be able to bring in consumer views. It’s called online storytelling, and it is one of the most successful ideas in ecommerce today.

Marketing is becoming more personal

The mobile platform offers far greater levels of consumer intelligence to retailers than web-based platforms. More and more, ecommerce marketers are using big data techniques on the additional information generated to predict consumer behavior, and to address themselves to consumer preferences. Large corporations are beginning to use such insights to compete with the levels of personalization offered by small retailers.

Retailers are going global

With every website being available to every consumer around the world today, consumers are beginning to look at products that are not available in their home countries. Ecommerce and m-commerce, then, are increasingly turning to import shopping. The vast number of shop-and-ship retailers in existence today is forcing domestic retailers to expand their offerings.