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4 Ways Consumer Education Affects E-Commerce

In our day and age, consumers are affected and influenced in many different ways, including: social circles, advertising, online forums/comment sections, celebrities, pop culture, the news and much more. Because of these factors that contribute to today’s businesses, it’s important that the e-commerce industry invests in their consumer’s education. Furthermore, in order to develop and gain consumers trust and loyalty, companies need to constantly educate their users about their products and services.

Below are four ways consumer education can help e-commerce grow.

Start the conversation

Consumers like to be heard, whether or not they are happy. When companies release information about products on their blogs and sites, it allows for a conversation to get started. Users can leave tips, suggestions and comments that can help other users with the product. In addition, companies should also be heavily involved in answering to threads and questions. For example, with educational product blogs, like many IT companies provide, businesses can give users a web page where they can troubleshoot their problems as well as give experts and employees of the company a platform to communicate from. This way companies can also develop a trusting relationship with their users. By providing lessons as an e-learning company, consumers have the power to become experts within industries.

Supply chain marketing

Being the cheapest alternative is no longer the only thing that makes a company attractive. E-commerce companies are put in a tough spot because most of their physical size is used in acquisitions and production. Supply chain marketing gives e-commerce companies an extra boost with promotion and advertising of their products to the public through brand managers and other parties inside and outside the organization. For example, the shoe company, TOMS does a good job of branding their charity donations attached to their products. The company has a one-for-one policy—when consumers buy a pair of TOMS shoes, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to someone in need. On their blog, TOMS frequently shows customers the people whose lives were impacted from the customer’s purchases as well as how TOMS manufacturing impacts jobs in poorer countries.

Furthermore, when e-commerce companies use their supply chains for the greater good, they profit from disclosing their supply chain to the consumer. Once that consumer is educated in the process of the product being made, they will understand how that product is better than its competitor.

Opportunities to evangelize

It is important to educate the consumer so they will become evangelists just as educating employees leads to increased employee engagement and dedication to the job. That’s why many corporations spend millions and millions of dollars in educational advertisements. In return, these companies get consumers that recruit and promote their product with such a passion and increase brand loyalty. Look at Apple in the last decade—their brand has been able to grow dramatically thanks to brand loyalty. Though the Apple Watch hasn’t taken off the same way as the iPhone or iPod, analyst Gene Munster explains that a new operating system “will allow native apps on Apple Watch to have a meaningful impact.” Because consumers are familiar with Apple’s iOS system and applications, it can help less impactful products, like the Apple Watch, become more relevant in a matter of weeks or months. All and all, consumer education helps the user know how good the product is or at least the strong points of the product and will help the discussion reach a wide variety of audiences.  

Work environment marketing

New companies being built and managed are no longer full of tedious work. In the past, workers would punch in and out of work and repeat that process for as long as they were employed. Today, companies offer all sorts of perks to their employees, so why not use those perks to advertise. For instance, many companies today are being praised by their friendly and fun work environments. Google is a prime example of this, as they have been voted near or at the top in the Best Places to Work around the country. From extended paternity leave to gourmet cafeteria food and career opportunities to grow—Google is able to attract top talent from around the world, striving to make the company more innovative. Educate the consumer on company perks and they will be more likely to support your company’s efforts.

Furthermore, today consumers are thirsty for information, and by releasing the information that makes companies look good, you are also helping your business grow. It is a simple formula that when analyzed seems to be a no-brainer, keep your employees happy and in return, use that happiness to grow your sales.

All and all, when e-commerce companies take the time to educate their consumer base, they not only help with business growth, but are tapping into the best kind of business resource—a trusted relationship with consumers.

 

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Bob Gourley writes on enterprise IT. He is a founder and partner at Cognitio Corp and publsher of CTOvision.com