The Language of eCommerce: Clearing the Confusion Around Digital Dialog

Just like often-used broad business terminology such as marketing, sales and products, the word digital is presently being slung around loosely like a well-used backpack.  Terminology definition and confusion of this relatively new business area can make it difficult for all levels within retail, hospitality or entertainment organizations to be certain everyone means the same thing in conversations, decisions, projects and actions. The more people learn to commonly speak and understand what I call the ‘Language of eCommerce’, the greater the opportunity for clear lines of communication and strong progression for your digital business.

By this point in the short history of the internet, nearly every person has had at least basic exposure to eCommerce and digital technologies, whether through their work or personal experiences. Unique in the digital space is that only since the late 1990’s, when the first wave of retailers and pure-play sites began their meteoric online rise, has the majority of the terminology and related meanings evolved and become part of common dialog. Phrases and terms, in the context of online, such as mobile app, search engine optimization and user generated content did not even exist. To further add to the confusion, words such conversion rate, search, and traffic existed, but have altogether different meanings in the digital context.  Because this fast-track new language has developed at warp-speed as consumers continually change their behavior and new online technologies emerge, and because people across organizations typically have differing experiences, many don’t ever realize they are not speaking the same language.  Their reference points and formed opinions about their personal terminology in the context of digital is often assumed to be universally understood.  However, in the absence of a common, shared set of definitions, it is easy to observe how confusion, miscommunication and even conflict are created.

Without a common language ground within your organization, particularly among leadership and managers who may be setting the course for digital investments and projects, people may inadvertently be working against each other.  Confusion can arise when the topics are centered around eCommerce retailing, digital marketing, social media, mobile, cyber security and technology platforms that support digital businesses.  Even one of the newest terms, the cloud, seems mysterious and fuzzy to many. Couple this with the differences created by new and actively evolving types of digital initiatives such as web analytics, big data, business intelligence, CRM and product databases and the conversations become even cloudier.

Because digital is so new and broad in scope, many are understandably not truly familiar with all aspects. Additionally, because the language, like no other, constantly has new terminology added due to the continually developing science, the confusion just won’t seem to clear up. All of the terms have in common that they are enabled and driven by technology, much of it based on the internet, its capabilities and supporting devices.  It is just as critical for senior leadership to be educated as it is for mid-level managers and line staff. Promoting a shared common language and ensuring stakeholders are working from the same reference points can go a long way in breaking down obstacles and miscommunication across organizations.

Here are 21 common digital terms and phrases, along with their definitions, to aid in your organizational digital dialog. 

Posted by Linda Mihalick on: 
Mar 1 2017