The Evolution of E-commerce: What It Means for Your Arts Organization

Today’s blog post is written by Alyssa Jean, Sales Development Representative, PatronManager.

With smartphones, tablets, laptops, and various other WiFi-enabled devices at our fingertips, e-commerce and online shopping trends have changed quite drastically over the past few years. Physical shopping malls and retail stores are no longer the primary sources for purchasing clothing, electronics, and even furniture. People are turning to the ease and convenience of online shopping from the comfort of their own homes more and more. 

According to this article from Digital Commerce 360, based on a survey conducted this year, millennials complete 60% of their purchases online, which is a 47% climb from a separate survey conducted in 2017. In just two years, that’s almost a 50% increase in online shopping versus in-store shopping! These trends, however, are not just exclusive to the retail industry; consumer studies have shown a rapid increase in online ticket sales as well, particularly on mobile. Let’s look at another study.

In this report run by IBISWorld, online ticket sales have shown an annual growth rate of 8.3% from 2014 to 2019. Now, this may not seem quite as dramatic as the 47% increase mentioned above, but it’s still a significant number! If anything, it is a clear indication that performing arts venues and cultural institutions should focus on creating an easy-to-use pathway for buying tickets online since that’s where patrons are heading to make purchases. So what exactly does “easy-to-use pathway” mean?

It means creating an easy and intuitive online experience for your patrons! When they go to your organization’s website, they shouldn’t have to guess where they need to click to purchase a ticket or make a donation for that matter. They should be able to view your organization’s offerings in a methodical way, like a list or calendar view, so they can easily identify which event they’d like to go to. Once an event has been chosen, the actual purchasing process should take a matter of seconds for a patron to complete. 

An easy-to-use pathway also means making sure your website is mobile responsive. According to our very own 2018 national survey of arts patrons, 36% of patrons between the ages of 46-55 purchased a ticket on their smartphone. That number increased to 45% for those aged 26-35! Mobile-responsive means each design component stacks vertically to fit a patron’s phone or tablet. Elements of your website should not have to be zoomed in with a pinch of two fingers; they should naturally calibrate, making for a user-friendly experience. 

It’s quite clear that as technology continues to evolve over time, the way in which society functions as a whole changes with it. The first iPhone came out just 12 years ago, and to think in that relatively small time frame online sales have already migrated a significant amount to that type of platform. All this is to say, keeping an eye on current e-commerce and online market trends can clue you in on the purchasing experience your patrons will expect. And as a result, I would anticipate your ticket sales will greatly benefit.

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