The convenience that is afforded to the modern consumer by the ability to do their retail shopping on the Internet is a luxury that, now, we often overlook as standard practice. It is easy to forget that within most of our lifetimes, making purchases on the Internet was not an option, not even a consideration. The changes that the Internet has brought to the way retail business is conducted are permanent and unchanging, drastically altering the nature of the retail sales market both for companies and consumers. While these innovations will certainly continue to evolve, the technological revolution in retail sales as it stands is already remarkable.
This Isn’t A Competition, But I Win
It goes without saying that the Internet as a retail market provides, by far, a greater range of goods and services with a more simple form of price comparison than standard shopping ever has. With this in mind, consumers frequently turn to the Internet to make sure that their purchases are priced fairly, or to find the lowest possible cost for what they need. Websites like Expedia, Priceline and Kayak all exist to help the consumer travel at the best possible rate. Amazon.com helps buyers compare prices on almost any sort of home good or item they could possibly want. With options like this open to the public, it is obvious that consumers have become more cost-savvy.
Start Small, Think Big
Mom-and-pop businesses are better able to compete successfully in the online retail market thanks to their efforts at personal, one-on-one customer service as well as their use of email marketing, search engine optimization and web behavior analysis. With these technologies in hand, small business are not only able make themselves more desirable to consumers, but also do most of their business on the Web.
You Look Familiar. Have We Met?
The use of the Internet as a retail platform has given marketers a great deal more information about the consumers to whom they are selling. Although the average consumer is not aware of this, t
heir moves are being examined carefully by the people who wish to sell to them. When a consumer reads about and researches a product, the temporary files on their computer determine the kinds of ads they see. The predictive analysis used by CRM software keeps track of what consumers buy and research, choosing what to advertise to that specific consumer based on their preferences. One recent example of how analytic technology deduces information about consumers that caught many by surprise is the story of a Minneapolis teen whose pregnancy was announced to her family by the determinative analysis of her Target purchases and the subsequent nature of their advertising to her.
No More Monkey In The Middle
Retail supply chains have been largely condensed by the Internet. A traditional supply chain in the past had a vendor shipping to a warehouse, a warehouse shipping to a retail store and a customer coming to that retail store to make a purchase. With the retail store and occasionally the warehouse completely removed from the equation, the corporate supply chain is much shorter and more efficient, with the merchandise being shipped at little as possible from its point of production until it reaches the consumer.
No Crowds, No Parking Lots, Just Coffee and Pajamas
The way that the Internet has influenced, sculpted and changed the entire nature of the retail market is something that has affected the way our generation behaves as consumers and will be a fully permeated cultural aspect of generations to come. A child born today will never know what it is like to not have the option of purchasing products on the Internet, a fact which is sure to continue to change and enhance Internet retail sales for many years to come.
Jessica Oakley is advocate for improving internet speeds and writes for SBI.org a rural satellite internet provider