The ‘e-market’ is the technology-mediated marketplace. Until now we have not considered it in its totality to be different or distinct from other markets.

Mmmmmm, organic berries
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We are familiar with the concept of a market, whether it be the Irish market, the global market, the youth market, the car insurance market, the stock market, or the local farmer’s market. Each of these are simply ways that we identify a particular cohort of buyers and sellers trading a range of products or services in specific locations.

Over the past number of years I had come to consider the Internet as simply another channel to an existing market. As such it fits with the other distribution channels, such as retail, agency, telephone and sales teams. This thinking implies that when we sell online we are simply selling the same product to the same people, but via a different medium.

I have now come to the view this understanding of the role of the Internet in business is inadequate. Organisations that have had notable successoOnline have not just done the same thing differently; they have done everything differently. If we take the traditional 4P’s used to describe any market we can see how different the e-market really is.

Product – The product that you buy in the e-market is typically different from the one you buy in other markets. As an empowered customer you generally have more control over the design and functionality of your product. It is usually customisable and you can tailor it to suit your needs. This is often why you choose to purchase that type of product in the e-market – you like the flexibility given to you there.

Price – Since the product is different the price will automatically be different. You have much more control over what you pay and you choose how much you pay by selecting which product features you are interested in. Furthermore price is influenced by another P – process. The manufacturing and distribution process behind products in the e-market are generally more efficient than in other markets and so the price to you, the consumer, can be much less.

Place – As a buyer in the e-market are no longer restricted by physical location. You are not limited by geography. The e-market is truly global. Furthermore you can engage with the e-market in any number of ways; via your PC, laptop, mobile phone, internet kiosk and so on. The e-market is accessible to you 24/7, limited only by your ability to connect.

Promotion – You find out about products in the e-market in different ways every single day. You might see an advertisment on TV or in a newspaper, but it is more likely that you will find it as a result of a search in one of two or three search engines. You might spot someone talking about the product on their blog, micro-blog or social network. Or you might ask your friends in your favourite discussion forum.

If you’re a business wondering where your customers are gone, chances are its not just the recession that is keeping them away. They’ve probably gone over to the e-market, because they know that they’ll get a product that meets their individual needs, at a price that matches their tightening purse strings, at a time and place that suits them. And furthermore, all their friends are over there and telling them constantly why they’d be mad to be spending their money anywhere else.