When it comes to shopping, more and more of us are letting our fingers (and our mice) do the walking.
Online sales are expected to hit $211 billion this year. That is a rise of 20 percent over last year and comes just three years after the industry hit the $100 billion milestone, according to the 2006 State of Retailing Online report from Shop.org and Forrester Research.
Here are seven reasons it makes sense to shop online:
1. Lower prices. Online shopping can reduce overhead costs in a variety of ways, which can translate to lower prices for you. In fact, one 2004 study found online prices to be 6 to 16 percent lower than offline prices.
2. More savings with online coupons. Many times, shoppers can save even further with an online coupon or coupon code. According to a 2005 Bizrate/Shopzilla report, 71 percent of online shoppers said they were able to find better discount offers and sales online, as compared to shopping through a catalog or traditional retail merchant. Online retailers may issue a button or text link that will apply an automatic savings to your order, or they may issue a specific coupon code to be entered at checkout.
3. Research capabilities. The Internet allows you to easily compare products and prices, so you can be sure that the item you purchase is the exact item you want. Online merchants can publish much more information about their product on a website than they could affordably publish in a print catalog. And online stores give you the ability to share information and reviews with other shoppers who have firsthand experience with a product or retailer. As Internet connection speeds continue to increase for larger segments of the population, these types of interactive features will become even more important. Zappos.com, a leading shoe retailer, for example, allows you to view most shoes from as many as eight different angles, including a close up.
4. Increased selection. Warehousing logistics can be much simpler for an online retailer, and many of the online superstores have a staggering inventory to choose from. Plus, as a consumer, you can avoid the inconvenience of physically traveling among online stores to comparison shop. A simple online search can lead you to the right product at the right price, fast.
5. Convenience. An online store allows you to shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So you can shop at your leisure, regardless of your time zone. This is particularly important for those of us who are limited in our ability to get to a brick and mortar store. The elderly, as well as parents of young children, for example, may have a more relaxed shopping experience in front of the computer screen.
6. Saves time. So much of the vast variety of products and product information is easily searchable. Plus, there is no traveling, parking, and walking involved.
7. Environmental Benefits. Recent studies are showing that shopping online leads to reduced fuel consumption and air pollution, because so much of our car travel is dedicated to shopping. Plus, shopping online reduces the need for print catalogs and excess packaging. And downloadable items purchased online eliminate the need for any kind of material goods at all.
Online shopping is a great option for individuals who are extremely busy in their lives and hardly get time to go out for shopping. To save their precious time and effort, most of the manufacturers have started offering their products and services online. They now maintain their own dedicated websites informing customers about their latest products, services, features and pricing details. A successful store does not mean a good looking website with dynamic technical features. Apart from this, it should aim at building relationships and making money.
Today, a number of individuals are getting attracted to this form of shopping because of the high level of convenience, huge variety, greater access to information and competitive pricing. Let us discuss these advantages in detail.
High level of convenience
This is one of the prominent benefits offered by an online shopping store. Today almost every individual has internet access at home, school, workplace and cafes. Also, online stores are open 24 hours a day. This provides individuals the comfort of purchasing a product just by sitting at home. In other words, there is no need to waste precious time and effort in visiting a conventional retail store. Most of the stores provide customers with free and fast delivery services.
Low prices attract everybody. This is another major benefit associated with this form of shopping. When you shop online, there are chances of grabbing a product at an affordable rate. You might get the same product at a high price in retail shops.
Easy access to deals and offers
While shopping online for a product, one can enjoy special offers and deals on different items available from the leading brands. These deals are mainly announced during the festive seasons and enable customers avail a wide range of benefits like free gifts, discounts, etc.
Price comparison services
This is the latest service started by manufactures to help customers see lists of prices of different products.
Huge collection of products
Customers can find a huge collection of products at an online shopping store. They can go through different products, compare their prices and features before purchasing a particular one.
Last but not the least, some stores also provide important services like product return, discount coupons, bonus points, etc. to attract more and more customers.
As recently as five years ago, major business publications were printing articles predicting the demise of online shopping stores. Some experts believed that e-commerce was a fad, something that would die down in time. How useful could online stores be, especially for goods like clothing, shoes and jewelry, which people want to see, touch or try on before they make a purchase?
The continuing success of business to consumer online retailers like Amazon and eBay have proven that e-commerce is here to stay and will continue to grow. It’s a safe bet that online shopping will only increase in popularity as more and more people depend on the Internet for their everyday needs. For example, consider the amount of money that Americans have been spending each Cyber Monday. Cyber Monday is the Internet’s answer to Black Friday, the post-Thanksgiving shopping blowout. In 2011, American consumers spent a whopping $1.25 billion, a 22% increase from the previous year’s total.
More people are willing to spend money online for a number of reasons. After several years of development, e-commerce has now evolved into a a safe and reliable method to buy and sell products. Not only that, consumers prefer to buy from online shopping stores, because they have access to much more than what is available locally and by comparing online retailers they can get it at the best price.
Well established online retailers such as Amazon and Buy.com have been riding the e-commerce trend and raking in profits for years. Other major retailers that have a huge offline presence such as Best Buy and Macy’s have also been expanding their online presence. Fortunately you don’t have to be a major business in order to build an online store. In fact, millions of small businesses have already made the move online and many more are doing it every single day.
There are some businesses that already have a brick and mortar store in a local community. They want to reach customers beyond their borders to increase profits for the business. Building an online store is the perfect way to do this. There are also a number of people who sell exclusively online, which saves a lot of expenses such as renting a store and hiring salespeople. A lot of small businesses got their start through e-commerce and continue to be very successful. There is definitely no doubt online shopping stores are going to be around for a long time.