Ecommerce: Internet Retail Challenges & Opportunities for 2013

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Internet retailers are finally now able to celebrate the holiday shopping season, but the savviest are already positioning themselves for success in 2013.

Here are a few key market trends, challenges and opportunities to be aware of to help ecommerce enterprises and Web merchants compete in the coming year:

- Online retailers will expand internationally in 2013
There are some significant barriers for retailers to surmount in 2013 as it relates to expanding their digital business but none is likely more important than localizing their efforts internationally.  China, Germany and the UK are top of mind with US merchants (and vice versa) and there are many more emerging markets where retailers can compete. Of course, for many merchants, that will likely start with a focus on translation as well as more fully investing in marketing locally in a global marketplace.

- Cloud technology will continue leading to decreased costs
The cost of running applications and Web services in the cloud is decreasing. The more these services are used by the broader Web business community, the lower the associated technology costs in general and the better margins retailers will have on their products - and the more revenue they’ll have. Remember, it’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.

- Customer "experience" will be the retail mantra
2013 is the year of customer experience. How users interact with brands – in various channels and on various devices – will need to be seamless, connected and near perfect in order to be a player in this now highly competitive landscape. The use of CRM and marketing automation platforms will likely dramatically increase in use in the coming years.

- Tax and privacy legislation will remain significant
Put aside your fiscal cliff worries away for a moment and start focusing on the how tax legislation could impact your Internet retailer business. Should the so called Internet tax become reality, having an effective tax plan in effect will serve you well. New global privacy laws (i.e. the UK cookie law) will also force retailers to invest in solutions to protect their enterprises. 

- Amazon & Google will continue to dominate, but innovation is everywhere 
If merchants plan on competing in 2013, their relationship with the big boys (Amazon and Google) will for various reasons need to be on good terms. From the introduction of Google's product listing ads to Amazon's continued control of all things ecommerce related, these two companies dominate the digital retail market - yet their aren't the only ones. Innovation is everywhere (e.g. Pinterest) so expect interested developments in marketing and distributing information and products in 2013. 

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