Women In Business

How women are shaping eCommerce

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With the rapid development of mobile purchasing, eCommerce has blossomed into a multi-billion pound industry, and women have taken a significant lead. Unlike other industries, e-Commerce offers a flexibility and accessibility that never existed in traditional business. Armed with laptops, kitchen tables and coffee shops – Wi-Fi has become a sledgehammer to the glass ceiling.

Leading brands are investing heavily in mobile business as consumers increasingly use tablets and mobiles to shop and complete transactions. This has led to an exponential boom in the online sphere, with the emergence of social start-ups run entirely by women and sometimes for women. Emerging companies like Girls Who Code, Little Miss Geek and industry leaders like Not On The High Street have become go-to guides for successful future enterprise.

Minus the stereotype, women have shown a natural gift for understanding consumer behaviour and outpace men for embracing social media and online marketing. Recent reports have shown that women are responsible for the majority of online purchases, combating the traditional assumption that men purchase or use technology more than women. But as we can see with online retailers like Not On The High Street, women are making great strides into gaps into the e-commerce market through avenues that were previously unknown.

Not On The High Street, established by Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish is one of the most famous sites to be launched in the UK since net-a-porter.com, and all from a kitchen table in 2006. The site focusses on finding original items from creative companies and individuals, bringing them together to one site and allowing users to browse and purchase the items. Their market sales are now worth £100million with an annual growth of 150%, thanks to their ‘power sellers’, the majority being women.

Organisations have also been established to encourage women to get more involved in tech. Little Miss Geek, set-up by Belinda Parmar does exactly that. Belinda was inspired to establish LMG after she was personally patronised by a sales assistant in a phone shop when he deliberately dumbed down his sales talk and offered her a pink phone. She realised quickly that brands were making ‘huge commercial mistakes’. Her work has earned herself an OBE for services to women in technology.

As she rightly states: “Tech is everywhere, it’s part of the very fabric of our lives, and more of us than ever know more than ever about it. The computer geek is no longer in the minority. We’re all geeks now, in our own way. That’s why we think it’s time for women to reclaim the word for the technology industry.”

The online world has also belatedly recognised a relatively modern phenomenon, the power of ‘Mums’. Socially engaged, highly focussed, excellent time-management skills and an ability to juggle the flexible demands of an online business with the flexible demands of childcare and school, runs. Not only are household brands heavily targeting these mums, mums themselves have found an interesting foothold in online marketing and social marketing. Nikki Cochrane (right) and Kathryn Tyler launched their business Digital Mums to tap into and empower this fertile potential, training mothers back to work in digital marketing, and matching companies with their trained up mums. Many Digital Mums have rippled out into their own online businesses, with the barriers to entry withered away.

Women aren’t just leading in the eCommerce industry, either. The vividly male dominated logistics industry has seen women escape traditional roles in a dyed-in-the-wool male dominated sector, partly fuelled by the very nature of the business – related and umbilically connected to ecommerce, online entrepreneurship, consumerism and social. The industry has been pushed to diversify its workforce and employ individuals who can balance the nature of consumerism with the needs of the logistics industry – enter the highly versatile female leaders of 21st century logistics.

Anna Kozlowska has been celebrated extensively by the logistics industry, receiving the Rising Star of the Year award at the Freight Transport Association’s Everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards. Arriving in Britain aged 20, Anna launched her own successful marketing company MyWay Enterprises and now retains some of the industry’s most prestigious clients, including DB Schenker Logistics, The Road Haulage Association and M&H Logistics. She has been described as an inspirational role model to women and a catalyst for more women to join an industry previously highly male dominated.

Why eCommerce and Logistics needs more women is not only down to a changing social climate, but down to a changing consumer base. Both eCommerce and Logistics is in need of fresh talent and individuals who understand a rapidly developing market. Consumer habits change momentarily, especially with online purchases and the logistics industry is being forced to adapt to this. Western companies are now playing catch-up in China as consumers have picked up mobile purchasing as their primary method for shopping – maybe they can look to eCommerce sites like Not OnThe High Street and Little Miss Geek for how they should remain leaders in the world’s fastest growing consumer market.

About Richard Heasman

Richard Heasman specialises in writing about sustainable business, innovation and eCommerce for ParcelHero. He has previously written for b2b publications and business news websites. Richard has a particular interest in social development within the business landscape.

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