Online shopping is going to blast. Nowadays retailers are adding in-store pickup, offer free shipping and experiment with social media. It is getting difficult to say who is pure internet retailer and who are bricks and mortar shops with online portals. All of them are reformulating how we will shop online in the future: via a mobile device, tablet computer, in store kiosk, etc.
New legislation might be required in order to protect the customers but this will also affect negatively online shopping. Internet retailers would have to collect sales tax. We will talk about legislation latter on in this article.
However, more and more traditional retailers are going for online selling. L.L Bean launched free shipping on all items, Macy’s offers free shipping on purchases of $99 or more, Walmart bought social media platform Kosmix in order to build their online business and Toys R Us purchased a new distribution center to support internet sales.
More and more retailers will implement in-store pick up. Walmart started already by offering in-store pick up for orders placed online. Sears and Kmart are testing home delivery. Farm Stores in Florida offer their shoppers to order groceries online and pick up at a drive through. Some smaller stores might even open designated pick up locations for goods ordered online (example Chronodrive).
Nowadays people who own a smart phone can use applications that allow them to do price comparisons or use coupons to purchase online. But we are just getting started with this type of technology.
New applications allow customers to upload video clips modeling new cloths or using a new purchase. This is a new feature but will definitely pick up quickly.
What about the power of social network like Facebook and Twitter? As a consumer you are able to “like” or follow a favorite retailer and get discount on deals. For example 12 million consumers “like” Victoria’s Secret on Facebook as of March 2011.
Jim Okamura (managing partner at Okamura Consulting) says that social shopping is just getting started. He mentions that Facebook offers good return on investment. However there are still lots of retailers that have not taken this advantage yet.
Online shopping is also going to help a lot of small niche online retailers. Via international or cross border e-commerce, they are now doing 10-20% of their sales outside their own country (example SousVideSupreme, Zara, Top Shop and StyleTrek).
There are nowadays more and more sites that cut through the din of so many sites and bring consumers only the information they are interested in: Dealnews, ConsumerSearch, Brad’s Deals and My Shopping Genie. There are sites you can use to find coupon codes, and possibly to make money while shopping online. There are also a variety of websites you may utilize to earn “points” or “bucks”. You can accrue these points and bucks and “cash them in” for goodies such as gift cards, real cash, accessories, electronics, so on and so forth (Swag Bucks).
A great advantage for consumers of online shopping is that as it becomes easier to compare prices (via My Shopping Genie for example) stores will be forced to create better experiences with better sales staff and items hard to find anywhere else.
In an article from April 2011 it was revealed that China shut down 410 websites involved in copyright violations and counterfeiting in the first 3 months of 2010. This is a sign that governments are now trying to interfere in legitimating online sales and making it safe for online shoppers. China’s online shopping has been booming (iResearch analysis). China has more than 450 million internet users, being the world’s largest. China’s online shopping transaction volume jumped 89.4 % year on year. About 148 million customers purchased goods or services online in 2010. China’s online economy grew rapidly in the first quarter of 2011, mainly driven by the development of e-commerce and mobile internet. Due to this increase in online shopping, local Chinese authorities are placing more emphasis on monitoring online shops.
Another example is Malaysia. Malaysians spent $739millions shopping online last year according to a survey released by PayPal. The PayPal’s growth in Malaysia last year was the strongest in the region Asia and India at 70%. The biggest percentage of online retail purchases are made on local websites. However the USA is the most popular country Malaysians bought from.
As we mentioned above, governments are now trying to make the online shopping safer for the customers.
In an article from ABC News from April this year, it is stated that the White House has developed a plan named the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) in order to fight online identity theft. The idea of this plan is to consolidate internet logins, kind of “Connect” for online shopping with the government’s mark of approval. Furthermore better security will encourage consumers and financial services companies to embrace payments through smartphones. The supporters of this system pointed out that the program would be voluntary. However there are pros and cons regarding this topic. The customers may benefit from these type of legislations but there are also disadvantages to it.