Online shopping gives users the ability to buy any product they want, at any time, from any place (as long as they have a shipping address and are connected to the internet). It also gives businesses the opportunity to expand their customer market across global borders. I mean really what is better than being able to order that sweet new pair of kicks while sitting at your computer in your pajamas, eating ice cream out of the box? Not much my friend, not much.
There are different kinds of online shopping experiences. Here are some of the most common:
Strictly online presence : Many companies have seen the benefits of having a solely online presence. The costs associated with the brick and mortar store are virtually eliminated and elements such as inventory are streamlined on a demand and supply basis. Forbes magazine pointed out that online retailers , are even surpassing their traditional physical storefront counterpart in sales growth in the US during this past holiday season. Sites like Amazon are obvious examples of the successes of online retailers. A really interesting article from Marketing Profs discusses some of the current facts and trends facing online shopping today.
Brick and mortar combination : Many companies have made the smooth transition from a complete brick and mortar approach to a combination of physical and virtual storefront. This transition will usually create a dual experience for both the customer and the company. Examples companies like this are tech giant Apple. For the customer, they have the benefits of both physical interaction with the product and convenience of purchase. Many times a customer sees a product in the store but they are unsure if they buy it or not. If they choose not to and then wish they had, they have the ability to simply visit the company website and purchase the item from home as well as returning to the store. This creates even more opportunities for the business to sell products. Furthermore, if the customer is browsing the Internet and comes across something that they think they would like, the presence of the brick and mortar store also gives the customer the opportunity to see the item in person before purchasing. The Internet creates the awareness and spark in interest and the physical storefront allows the user the satisfaction of testing the product.
User to user : The idea of selling between consumers is not new by any means, but there has been a rapid change in the way that this type of business is conducted. Auction sites like Ebay have totally changed the online marketplace while sites like Craigslist have built of the idea of the classifieds column to create a site that connects sellers and buyers all over the world. Online shopping is also constantly evolving with the potential for users to simply create their own website for their product they wish to sell. It is no longer necessary to invest in a physical property.
Supplementary websites : Along with the traditional online shopping, many sites now also add something to enhance your user experience. Many times it is cheaper to buy a product online, and sites like Voucherbox add to this concept by providing a place to find vouchers for all kinds of products and online stores. Or sites such as Groupon give benefit to both the user and the business. The business can simply choose to advertise their product or service while the consumer is able to usually find great deals at the same time. It is a win-win situation.