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Commerce Everywhere: Growth and Trends at the 2014 ePages Commerce Summit

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On Thursday the ePages Commerce Summit began in Hamburg, Germany. The conference, in its third year, brings together customers and vendors in the ecommerce space to learn more about industry trends and network with existing and potential partners with a focus on the serving the small and mid-sized business market.

Wilfried Beeck, CEO of ecommerce software provider ePages, kicked off the conference with a presentation focused on what’s next in ecommerce and how the industry is changing. The overall theme was product integration and how providers can best serve their customers.

Cloud and hosting services and ecommerce are becoming more integrated each day. With roughly 50 percent of businesses still without a web presence, hosting and ecommerce remain an area with huge growth potential. According to research from Parallels, the SMB cloud market annual revenue will reach 95 billion in 2015. Part of this revenue is from cloud services that include shopping cart and ecommerce solutions.

According to Beeck’s presentation, the revenue from online shopping in Germany alone was $27.5 billion in 2012 and has been growing at a rate of 12 percent each year, growing to $68.4 billion by 2020. European countries such as Italy, Switzerland and Spain are also experiencing double digit growth.

Growth is being reflected in the industry with an influx of venture capital into hosting and cloud services as well as the ecommerce space. Trustev, Weblinc and Ecwid have all announced funding in the last few months. Beeck said in a later panel that ecommerce startups are becoming more common and that he doesn’t see the industry consolidating or slowing any time soon. Established players have an obvious advantage through highly integrated technology and experience. ePages customer base has grown from 60,000 to over 100,000 in the last year.

Businesses, particularly SMBs, may not even know whether they need a shopping option when they first launch an online presence. Brick and mortar stores tend to think that online shopping may be taking away from their business and they are just becoming showrooms. The reality is that customer behavior around ecommerce is complex.

Many shoppers begin online and end up in a store and vice versa. Beeck estimated that $6 billion in revenue is lost to this process where traditional businesses lose customers to online shopping. However, the reverse process where shoppers turn to local stores to purchase goods discovered online is a $68 billion opportunity.

Traditional businesses without an online presence are missing out on a huge new revenue stream. Bringing SMBs online is great opportunity for service providers. Companies that can walk businesses through the process of starting an ecommerce store have a great opportunity for growth. Providing customers with an easy onboarding process and a scalable online shopping cart is key to continued success in the service provider industry.

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