Getting ahead in the e-comm space race

Steve Staff, Social and Digital Media Manager

In the excellent 2016 movie Hidden Figures NASA Space Task Group leader Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) uses the words “whoever gets there first will make the rules” when emphasising the importance of beating the Russians during the original space race of the Cold War.

While Costner’s character is invoking the age-old tenet of ‘finders keepers’ his words carry relevance when thinking about the importance of a controlling influence over valuable real estate. Controlling the entirety of space is perhaps too macro an example to get our heads around but the same principle has applied throughout history, from the California Gold Rush to the dot-com boom; namely that once a space has a perceived value there will inevitably follow a rush for influence over that space. The dot-com boom of the 1990s saw companies flock to gather their piece of the world of potential that was the internet. And, as Costner foresaw, those who got there first are largely the ones who influence the rules today (Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft – all founded pre-2000).


The internet is becoming increasingly sectioned-off and our social media habits are ever more private. Many today prefer the ephemeral experience of stories or sharing privately via WhatsApp over public posting on feeds or timelines. Tech companies are clamouring, not for a space on the internet but control of a very specific space within it – e-commerce.

In the last month this race has come more sharply into focus. Apple’s planned iOS 14 update will bring about sizeable changes to the way advertisers do business on Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, Pinterest, Snapchat etc.). This may significantly harm Facebook’s ability to deliver useful information on transactions for businesses outside of their own apps. What does this have to do with e-commerce?

If Facebook can’t involve themselves in transactions happening elsewhere on the internet, then the natural next step is to bring those transactions to them. Facebook’s network of apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram) are all currently developing ways of bringing e-commerce to their platforms quickly and efficiently. Facebook’s own currency could be a possibility in years to come, Instagram shopping is rapidly becoming a vital part of SMB’s digital marketing strategies, and transactions via WhatsApp could be just around the corner. Elsewhere moves are being made into e-comm spaces by Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat with varying degrees of urgency. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the future of doing business on social isn’t tracking user experiences but providing them.


Where and how the future of digital transactions will be managed remains to be seen. It will largely depend on the decisions and actions of those who get there first, but there are things we can do today to ensure that we’re as ready as we can be for change. Plus, we can learn from the examples of other big-name players, namely Amazon – a tech giant demonstrably un-fussed by Apple’s pesky updates. Why? Because unlike Facebook et al. Amazon control their content, their products, their suppliers, advertisers and media platform all within one space. What can we learn from Amazon? Well…


As changes come there are ways to adapt and stay in control of your own brand experience. Here are a few ways to stay ahead in your own e-comm space:

  • Utilise social CX: If you’re an e-comm brand active on social then chances are you’re active on Instagram. You might even be running Instagram ads, but are you set up as an Instagram store? It’s surprisingly quick and easy to set up shop on Instagram and remove a step from your user journey. If you’re already running great content and effective advertising, go that extra step and give people a rounded customer experience without having to leave the app.
  • Understand your attribution windows: This is one of the things that will be changing once Apple have their say in the spring; attribution windows will shrink and data will be a little harder to come by. Understanding where your customers are and where your conversions come from is key. Why? Because once the e-comm space becomes more divided, deciding which channels are right for your brand will become more important than ever.
  • Take another look at your funnel: While conversions have been the key topic here it’s also important to appreciate the knock-on effect that more ubiquitous e-comm capability will have on marketing overall. As transactions become easier and faster people inevitably become… lazier. Once the e-comm playing field is levelled the factors that will stand out are going to be which brands do I know and like? and which brands provide the easiest experience? And that means taking another look through your marketing from awareness right through to conversion and retention to ensure the trip through the funnel is as easy as possible.



Whether we’re refining the UX of an e-commerce site, providing new strategies for lead generation or customer retention, or developing best-practice digital advertising campaigns to enhance conversions, everything we do is based on experience and understanding, and adapting to new experiences as they evolve.

Want to talk about how your business can improve its e-commerce space? We provide services in CX, paid digital media, social content strategy and search and SEO fundamentals. If you’d like to talk more about this article, paid digital strategy or the films of Kevin Costner you can contact me at


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