From time to time, the Blog Aesthetic spotlights different industries and offers discussion and insight on relevant public relations trends and strategies. In this posting, we examine the next phase of e-commerce, an industry that faces exciting possibilities as the U.S. economy continues its positive (if slow) rate of recovery.
To that end, what PR factors should e-commerce sites pay attention to? Here are a few:
• Leaks, leaks, leaks. Data breach continues to be the most high-profile media narrative associated with e-commerce sites. As much as news outlets may report on the success of an ecommerce platform, a significant data breach will always be a media lightning rod. Has your site prepared a thorough crisis management plan that addresses all stakeholders? If not, your new road to riches will surely hit a dead-end.
• Distinction. Quick – in 30 seconds, explain the difference between Authorize.Net, PayPal, and Fiserv… Once you’ve hit the wall, you will probably see the problem. All provide consumer payment processing for individual and business transactions, but what benefit does each offer that’s different than the other? In other words, where’s the brand distinction? Your e-commerce PR efforts must always work to show why your site or platform is the better alternative.
• Streamline customer interaction. With social networking significantly reducing the cost of customer interaction, an e-commerce site should leverage different social media sites for particular avenues of customer engagement. For example, a few tweets can offer quick bites of news updates, but a Facebook page may be better for carefully addressing consumer or merchant complaints.
• The next big thing. E-commerce sites will, undoubtedly, significantly evolve as new technologies and online platforms emerge. Change always catches people off-guard, so e-commerce sites must make sure stakeholders are fully engaged and informed before incorporating the “next big thing” into their business practices. Smart PR can help an e-commerce site develop a thought leadership campaign on relevant industry issues, position the site favorably with business and consumers, and then capture market share as the standard business model evolves.