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.