Guest Column | April 29, 2021

Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM Shares A Lesson Learned From The e-Commerce Explosion Of 2020 And 3 Things Digital Marketers Should Be Mindful Of In The Years Ahead

By Gillean Smith, Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM

REx Peter Gold, Market America Worldwide  SHOP.COM 04.20

The world of e-commerce continues to evolve as the current shopping landscape focuses heavily on providing products and services in a “no-touch” environment, with an emphasis on product availability and delivery time over any time someone has to spend inside an actual store. Translated into dollars, Digital Commerce 360 estimates that U.S. consumers spent more than $860 billion online in 2020, up 44% year over year, making it the highest annual U.S. e-commerce growth in 20 years. The businesses experiencing significant growth in online sales last year include retailers that heavily invested in a comprehensive and strategic digital marketing presence. One such company is Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM.

Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM is a global product brokerage and internet marketing company that specializes in one-to-one marketing and is the creator of the Shopping Annuity. Its mission is to provide a robust business system for entrepreneurs while providing consumers a better way to shop. The company was founded in 1992 by Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM Founder, Chairman & CEO JR Ridinger after he had the foresight to see a time when consumers would be purchasing everyday items from a “mall without walls,” as he called it. As of 2020, that mall without walls, known today as online shopping, accounts for more than $4 trillion in worldwide sales within the e-commerce industry. That’s up from more than $3 trillion in 2019.

According to Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM Chief Digital Marketing Officer Peter Gold, Market America Worldwide acquired SHOP.COM in 2010. There was a traditional “honeymoon period” that led to an integration period where the two companies became one — a methodical process that can take years. “When I walked in the door, these two companies had already found success as one global business with one culture, one mindset, and one mission. I serve as an instrument to execute on the vision the owners had from the start,” said Gold. “Our parent company, Market America Worldwide, is in the business of empowering entrepreneurs with not just a proven business model and the necessary tools to build a business, but also with a strategic mindset. It’s this strategic thinking in all aspects of business, specifically digital marketing, that has proven invaluable during this time when so many are living digitally 24/7/365,” said Gold.

After over seven years with the company, Gold has worked with the owners to expand the company’s digital marketing initiatives to include customer acquisition programs — paid (SEM) and organic (SEO) — social media optimization, social commerce, public relations, email marketing, selling on 3rd party marketplaces around the world as well as all retention marketing and web merchandising. An example of these responsibilities includes what the e-commerce site SHOP.COM looks like every day — meaning every image, every message, and every promotion, while considering which products are relevant for the U.S. market, while also working to help support additional e-commerce platforms in overseas markets, translating content and currency, and respecting cultural differences on a global scale. Today, the company is operating and thinking like a global digital marketing/e-commerce company that is still true to its roots.

When the e-commerce explosion happened last year and everything shut down, pushing consumers all around the world to buy online and avoid in-person contact, the company’s more robust digital marketing team was put to the test. It passed with flying colors.

“We didn’t have to scramble like a lot of other companies did. Instead, we were ready and able to handle an increased demand of online purchases worldwide, never once increasing prices while making sure that the millions of products our customers needed were available and, if not, an alternate product was recommended on the same product page,” said Gold.

One lesson learned over this past year was the ever-changing status of a product’s importance or current value in the minds of the consumer. The global pandemic caused them to focus on product relevancy continually — something they plan to keep top of mind permanently.

For Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM, the company’s leadership saw a vast array of products become relevant one day only to be suddenly replaced with what consumers had top of mind the next day. Products and their relevancy came in waves throughout 2020. For instance, with millions of people around the world working from home, desks, chairs, printers, paper, pens, external microphones, and more all became relevant items. Then, as the amount of time at home grew and living and working at home became harder to distinguish from one another, food supplies, including high quality and safe meat and seafood, became relevant as well. When White House Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci discussed the importance of wearing masks and disinfecting your hands, the relevant items went on SHOP.COM’s home page, according to Gold.

“Marc (Ashley, President & COO of Market America Worldwide) directed all of us on the executive team to go out and find the products most in demand and, in many cases, we got gouged and Marc directed us to eat the gouge, meaning that we did not pass the increased cost on to our customers. We ate it out of our margins,” said Gold. “There was a period when you couldn't get a mask. There was a period when you couldn't get hand disinfectant and those products were at a premium. We went out and found these products for our customers and when prices went down, we dropped our prices. The point being relevancy isn’t just putting the right products in front of our customers at the right time. It’s also giving them the right experience, the right treatment during a difficult time like this,” said Gold.

According to an article in Forbes, ten years of e-commerce adoption was compressed into three months, due to the global pandemic. The continuous “super rapid” evolution of e-commerce is one of three things that digital marketing leadership should be mindful of moving forward, advises Gold. People who were not shopping online in 2019 who started to shop online in 2020 are likely to continue to do so. In turn, it is both the new and current online shoppers who will produce the next generations of digital natives.

The second item to pay attention to, according to Gold, is innovation disruption. “I got started in digital marketing 20+ years ago when most people were using dial-up and nobody gave their credit card information on the internet. Google didn’t exist; Yahoo was the dominant search engine. Smartphones, tablets, social media didn’t exist,” said Gold. “So, the point is that in the last 20 years, there has been an evolution of technology and devices and how we use them in our daily lives. I think that keeping an eye out for new technology features and how they can be disruptive, meaning being able to utilize them to make the overall online shopping experience more pleasurable for consumers, will continue to be invaluable.”

Finally, keeping an eye on the youth is key because they are the next generation of spending power and true digital natives. “They don’t even have laptops,” said Gold. “They do almost everything on their cellphones and everything is app-based. They don’t even verbally communicate with each other; they Snap each other,” said Gold. “Keep an eye on how they consume content, how and where they interact with brands, how and where they shop, how they consume news, how they learn about sports scores, how they learn about what’s going on in the world. It’s completely different. How they act with brands and products and how they shop is completely different, and that’s going to change. This generation that’s 13, 14, and 15 years old, keep an eye on them. Keep an eye on what the young are doing, what their habits are, what devices they’re using, what tools, sources, apps, sites they’re using because it is going to give you some insight. It’s going to give us all, as digital marketers, some insight into how they are going to interact with brands and products and how we need to reach them if we want them to purchase. It’s not going to be simply walking into a store.”

Gillean SmithAbout The Author

Gillean Smith is the Public Relations Manager for Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM and has more than 20 years of experience in public relations with various agencies, including running her own firm. She began her career in radio and television news and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her passions include photography, music, and spending time with her three sons.