Ecommerce Reconsidered: Why You Might Need a Shopping Cart After All
Technology has not only changed what we offer to the marketplace -- it has also influenced how those offerings are sold. The ability to sell things online has had a profound impact on our economy as a whole. Research and consulting firm Forrester projected U.S. online retail sales during the 2014 holiday season to reach $89 billion, a 13% increase from the same time period in 2013. Mobile commerce is only fueling this growth.
Curiously, many publishing organizations do not have the capability to take orders and execute payment transactions online from their website. To those outside the industry, this lack of ecommerce seems preposterous -- proof positive that book publishers are incorrigible Luddites, ostriches with heads firmly in sand. However, those with a deeper knowledge of publishing's distribution ecosystem and publishers' economic realities know that there are some valid reasons why publishers have not made ecommerce a priority, and consequently why many in the industry do not have that capability today. Many publishers made well-reasoned business decisions not to invest in online storefronts based on the facts and a rough calculation of a return on such an investment.
Existing Channels Are Sufficient
For many, the principal reason for not creating an online storefront was that online selling was not consistent with the publisher's channel strategy and would not bring in enough additional revenue to warrant the investment. Existing channels, they reasoned, appropriately handled current sales opportunities.
For trade publishers, online marketplaces such as Amazon most appropriately serve consumers. Trade customers don't conduct a search for books by going to a publisher's websites, but rather to a comprehensive marketplace where all publishers are represented.
Institutional librarians have expressed a preference to purchase through intermediaries that aggregate titles from multiple publishers. For both print and digital titles, librarians prefer the efficiency of buying through a third party channel, such as Overdrive, as opposed to buying from individual publishers.