February 2, 2021

E-commerce, the world’s digital shop window

In 2020, we witnessed an unprecedented transformation in the history of commerce: we all turned to online shopping for almost everything.

Marta Caballero

Marta Caballero

UX Writer and Content Strategist at Z1

E-commerce, the world’s digital shop window
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E-commerce users are not only digital natives anymore; hence customer-centricity is more vital than ever.

One night in 1994, someone ate the first internet-ordered pizza, a familiar one with pepperoni, mushrooms and extra cheese. This action, part of a normal day for billions of Internet users around the world, back then felt like a futuristic story. Only four years had passed since the legalization of the use of the Internet for commercial purposes; 13 since the first online sale, executed by the Thomson Holidays travel agency.

Also in 1994, Nelson Mandela is elected the first black president of South Africa, Kurt Cobain commits suicide, Friends is released on television, and a certain Jeff Bezos moves into a tiny garage at 10704 Northeast 28th Street, in Washington, with the “crazy” idea of selling books digitally. Amazon had just been born.

In 1994, Mandela is elected the first black president of South Africa, Kurt Cobain commits suicide, and a certain Jeff Bezos moves into a tiny garage with the “crazy” idea of selling books online.

Only 26 years later, in 2020, the fateful year of the pandemic, e-commerce reached incredible highs. It was an unprecedented transformation in the history of commerce. The most recent Cyber Monday alone generated more than 10.84 billion sales in a single day. Overwhelming. More numbers to leave us speechless? Here's one: Global e-commerce sales soared 66% at the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown.

In The Social Network (David Fincher, 2010), the actor who played Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, said, "We lived on farms, and then we lived in cities, and now we are going to live on the internet!". Applied to digital commerce, the reflection takes on even more force. Last year and also at the beginning of 2021, with the planet living behind closed doors due to successive lockdowns, we have all turned to online shopping for almost everything. From clothing or technology to weekly shopping or the fruit store in our neighborhood, which has had no choice but to adapt to the changing times.

This data illuminates a clear business opportunity for studios like ours. At the same time, it highlights the importance of improving the user experience. Merchants, whatever sign they are, understand that they have to move on to survive in a competitive global market that is dominated by giants. As consumers become more aware of their needs, companies must adopt more creative sales strategies, so we can say that we are seeing a lot of creativity and imagination in the e-commerce space.

“E-commerce needs basic design principles like any other digital product. In this case, the main objective of the user is to explore, discover and buy.”
Héctor Giner, Z1's CEO and Cofounder.

As Héctor Giner, our CEO, says, the pandemic provoked a remarkable increase in digital projects: “And, of course, e-commerce and marketplaces are important parts of this process. After all, these are traditional market digitization methods. Our scope of work is focused on creating products from scratch. When we start shaping the product based on market research, considering the e-commerce route is usually one of the options. In addition, e-commerce needs basic design principles like any other digital product. In this case, the main objective of the user is to explore, discover and buy”.

Buying on-line: A worldwide trend

For our partners from WeCommerce, for whom we created their identity and website, 2020 has been their best year. This Canadian company that, like us, is part of Tiny, focuses on launching and buying large Shopify companies, the leading e-commerce platform that will set the trend in the coming years.

The interface of WeCommerce designed by Z1 Digital Studio
We created a meaningful brand and a neat website for WeCommerce

Alex Persson, Head of Acquisitions, tells us that they are still amazed today by the growth and innovation in the Shopify partner ecosystem and global digital commerce in general. “According to eMarketer, digital commerce grew over 25% to nearly $4.3 trillion in 2020. Some countries, such as Singapore and Argentina, nearly doubled their digital commerce markets in 2020! We are seeing new software companies address the vast and varied needs of online merchants worldwide, and those companies are not headquartered in Silicon Valley. We’ve met with entrepreneurs who have built large businesses in Canada, India, Singapore, Israel, South Africa, France and more. We’re very optimistic about the golden age of digital commerce for the decade ahead, and we believe WeCommerce can play a significant role in the industry."

We are very optimistic about the golden age of digital commerce for the next decade and we believe that WeCommerce can play an important role in the industry.

Not surprisingly, the company had its debut on the stock market this year, sparking the interest of many investors. “As a public company, we have more flexibility to structure acquisitions and align everyone in our organization to the interests of our shareholders. On the one hand, our public debut is a wonderful achievement, but on the other hand, it’s business as usual for WeCommerce. We’ll continue to remain disciplined and look for attractive capital deployment opportunities in our backyard and worldwide.”

According to Persson, if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that while we can’t predict the future we can still plan for it: “We can’t make predictions over the coming months, but we’ll continue to partner with wonderful software businesses worldwide and invest in our portfolio companies.”

“If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that while we can’t predict the future we can still plan for it.”
Alex Persson, WeCommerce's CEO.

Happy clients are now even more important

Regarding the challenges generated after the e-commerce boom, Persson argues that, in a global and increasingly competitive industry, customer-centricity, as Héctor Giner explained before, is more vital than ever. “Happy customers are less likely to churn, often spend more, and are the source of the best source of growth: word of mouth. Keep finding ways to deliver more value to your present and future customers, and you’ll be rewarded."

Indeed, one of the biggest economic changes in recent months lies in the impressive acceleration of digital shopping behaviors in all demographic and socioeconomic categories. Therefore, from studios like Z1, today we recommend generating e-commerce products that bear in mind that their users are not only digital natives.

We recommend generating e-commerce products that bear in mind that their users are not only digital natives.

Our Design Director, Manolo Ortega, knows a lot about devising the best user experience. Like Héctor and Alex he is constantly up-to-date with the improvements that can be offered to the client in this regard. A talent for achieving a design that improves the lives of people has helped him craft brand images for different e-commerce companies.

"When we worked with the furniture store design company Caramba we used Shopify, which is aimed at smaller shops, has less product volume and is more defined by its target. With other clients, on the other hand, we are using BigCommerce, which works both for an individual audience and for companies and professionals. This platform is more versatile, and you can categorize products for different markets, focusing directly on sales." Choosing the type of platform that is best suited to each audience and using technologies that already exist is vital to save efforts. 

Z1 Caramba Homepage Shopify
We built Caramba's e-commerce website with Shopify

Our maxims, Manolo explains that good design generates trust in consumers:. "It is key that the end customer can see what they are going to buy in context, with truthful designs that exude confidence, and that they can clearly see the quality of what they are buying without actually having it in front of them."

Z1 developer Marta García is one of our e-commerce specialists. Today, she foresees there will be more career opportunities than ever in this field. No merchant is not considering this year how to make the leap to digital business. “The no-code tools that we use are not only good for the devs, but also for the clients, because in the future these platforms will allow them to update and change the contents at will. My advice to those colleagues who want to make a career in this sector is to choose a tool and to train deeply on its possibilities. This should be in addition to the languages ​​that we usually use at Z1, such as Javascript, HTML and CSS. We can combine all these tools and languages to optimize e-commerce results.”

Finally, we shouldn't forget that the e-commerce boom is also accompanied by the e-commerce giants making more money than ever. However, Héctor concludes, this development is also symbolizing a war against giants like Amazon: “In fact, Shopify is borrowing that narrative. It is certainly good news for consumers, and for the system in general, that small- and medium-sized businesses find a way to own their own customer experience as opposed to the massive Amazon experience that is only based on volume and logistics, which are not very sustainable elements.”