Tuesday, February 26, 2013

While Time Ticks Away, The Web Clicks Today...

While Time Ticks Away, The Web Clicks Today…
From brick to click, technology has played a major role towards our shopping behaviors which has enabled consumers to buy efficiently and conveniently. But what do our shoppers prefer most?
The Internet…
The internet was developed by a team of experts in the mid 1980s and it is the most powerful and widely used tool that consumers can access. The internet has advanced in such a way that has allowed consumers to feel as if they were psychically in the store. In addition, it has improved to become such a “user friendly” tool in regards to sizing and measurements, variety of colors and fabrications, customer service, existing consumer reviews, and tracking and shipping details.
How has the Internet affected online sales?
From a consumer perspective, the internet has introduced hundreds of thousands of shopping websites with the benefit of purchasing lower priced merchandise that most Brick and Motor locations could not compete with. Purchasing online has also provided consumers the benefit of shopping at his/her convenience. After a brief conversation with Fashion Business student Karen Kubari from George Brown College, I had asked her how the internet has changed her shopping patterns and she reported, “I barely go in store to buy clothes nowadays because everything just seems too expensive compared to what you can find online. Sometimes I will find a blouse similar to one I would see in store for a cheaper price.” According to Consumerreports.org, readers were asked about their shopping experiences at 52 shopping websites. As a result, online shopping scored high marks. “Survey respondents were highly satisfied with 84 percent of their purchases when visiting shopping websites. But not all sites made the cut. Lower-rated shopping websites were faulted for value, checkout, shipping, and customer support”, reported by consumer reports.
How does the internet affect Brick and Motor locations?
Brick and Motor locations provide shoppers with the advantage of browsing, critiquing, having the help of an associate and most of all, trying on the merchandise. According to a January 18, 2012 article by BizReport author, Helen Laggatt, has stated that after conducting a Shopping Trends survey for consumers between the ages of 18-25 years old, 68% indicated that brick and motor shopping is the most ideal shopping method. Eighty-eight percent of this group reported that such social media websites like Facebook does not encourage them to buy as they prefer to physically see, touch or try on the merchandise. “Despite their ownership of mobile technology, just 23% use smartphones or tablets to shop”, says Helen Laggatt, Author of Bizreport article.
Although shopping offline could benefit shoppers in regards to touch, feel, fit, and face to face communication with associates, not always do shoppers make the purchase. Often shoppers tend to walk out with no purchase made because the price isn’t right. Let’s look at a few pros and cons of online and offline shopping.
Pros and Cons of Online Shopping
1)      Convenient: Consumers are able to shop at their own leisure.
2)      Saves Money: With more than one million shopping websites, the internet provides consumers cheaper shopping websites in which they can save more than usually spent.
3)      No pressure: Consumers are not pressured into buying product as they purchase whenever they please.
1)      Not always user-friendly: Consumers may experience delays with customer support teams.
2)      Risk giving personal information:  Making online purchases require credit cards which can be risky as you’re exposing your credit card number to someone else.
3)      Risk of delivery: Consumers risk seeing the product psychically which could result in poor quality upon delivery.
Pros and Cons of offline shopping
1)      Consumers can physically shop: Shoppers have the benefit of inspecting product before purchasing.
2)      Communicate with real associates: Shoppers have the benefit of communicating with sales associates then and there without taking a number or being directed to a customer support line.
3)      Variety of payment methods: Customers have the benefit of using any method of payment, mostly debit, credit and/or cash.
1)      Mostly expensive for what it’s worth: Many retailers price their merchandise too high for what the quality is worth.
2)      Locations may be out of convenience: Consumers may feel irritated going out of their way to make a purchase.
3)      Limited with size and quantity: Consumers may feel frustrated trying to find a size that fits them.

What do consumers prefer?
Although shoppers may find a better price using the internet, consumers would rather feel the real customer service, and natural environment retailers offer. According to a June 8, 2012, article by Marketing Chart, it states, “Customers prefer to be acknowledged in-store rather than via digital channels”. Based on a survey conducted, on a scale of 1 to 5 (5 =like the most, 1 =like the least), Canadian consumers rated special treatment in store with the highest score of 3.4. Most consumers prefer being acknowledged especially if they are of “high status”. In addition, long-term customers are highly valued and would not be treated as so via online customer support teams.

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