Why pre-commerce will drive e-commerce

Companies that learn how to excel at pre-commerce will become the future leaders of the Fortune 1000. Ask yourself today if you are working for or with one of them. The answer may surprise you.

Companies that learn how to excel at pre-commerce will become the future leaders of the Fortune 1000. Ask yourself today if you are working for or with one of them. The answer may surprise you. 

Many people are chasing the latest shiny tools or most recent idea. It's easy to do and it is a form of intellectual laziness. Leaders who will transform industry are thinking way beyond today's headlines. They realize that the actual transaction to buy a product is becoming a formality. In fact, less than 1% of a person's time in his or her lifetime is spent making a purchase online. And 99% of people's time online is focused on learning, browsing, sharing, and receiving support. This is what we call pre-commerce.

The pre-commerce world is one we need to adapt to with more speed. 

When an average of 500,000 people go online everyday for the first time in their lives, 21 of the world's top 25 newspapers are not in English and you have to work in 10 languages to reach 82.6% of the online population of 2 billion people, it's fair to say that the landscape is different than it was a few years ago. And that's just the big picture.

We are consuming content and learning about brands on our own time and in different ways. It is normal for teenagers to consume content, simultaneously, from three different channels. The most important language in the world today is not Chinese or English. It is actually short-form language that we use for texting and Twitter.

And we're learning increasingly via video, since it is easier for our brains to comprehend and process information in a visual format. Think of this point for a minute. How well do you tell your brand's story online? I don't mean in a press release or on a website. If I search for your brand online, do I get lots of stuff or does a story start to emerge?

A few years ago, companies spent 10% to 20% of their budget on digital. Today, leading companies spend 50% and in two to three years, leaders will be at 70%. Laggards will resist and lose share. They always do. Leaders are also realizing that customers see “one experience” with a brand that is continual and cumulative. You can't target the same customer from 10 angles. It turns out - surprise, surprise - that they don't like it. But we always knew that. Now, we can change how we act.

Leaders realize that decisions for e-commerce are made via the alchemy of search, conversations, content, and peer interactions. Companies that can become “relevant peers” can become part of a customer's world.   

All of the communications, psychology, and business models that we learned in school are still applicable.  However, it will be those agencies and companies who become expert at how our environment is changing that will be able to evolve these core models and build opportunity for the communications industry never seen before. 

The next time you see a customer walk into a store, remember that they already know what they want. Have you already talked with them?

Bob Pearson is chief technology and media officer at WCG. He recently published a book, "Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together."

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