According to a recent study conducted by Forrester Research Inc., 192 million consumers in the U.S. alone will shop online in 2016 – a number that’s up a whopping 15 percent from 167 million in 2012. However, an even more interesting statistic shows each of those shoppers will spend more on average, adding up to $1,738 online, a rise of 44 percent from $1,207 in 2012. This article explores why this is happening and what’s in store for future online shoppers. We’ll also talk about what the brick and mortar retailers plan to do in the face of this Internet spending spree.
The rise of online shopping
A decade ago, you online shoppers could be characterized somewhat narrowly – young, well-educated, tech-savvy, and with relatively high incomes. Now, a wide range of consumers shop online. One reason is that people are becoming more tech-savvy – the Internet is a part of their everyday lives, so making purchases online isn’t daunting. Not only that, but it has plenty of perks: inexpensive prices and easy price comparison, broad selection, convenience, and product reviews on demand to ensure you get a quality product.
What’s the future of online shopping?
With more customers using smartphones and tablets, the future of shopping is likely to be mobile, too. 2012 has been a hot year for the tablet, even during a slow economy, with the technology research firm Gartner predicting that nearly 120 million of these devices will be sold globally by the year’s end, almost double the number sold in 2011. By 2014, some estimate a full 40% of Americans will use a tablet.
Companies will have to respond to this trend, ensuring customers have positive mobile shopping experiences. These figures also mean shopping will likely become even more flexible – rather than being restricted to a brick and mortar store or a computer, consumers will be able to shop from virtually anywhere through highly-portable technology.
How are brick and mortar retailers responding to the ecommerce trend?
Those at the helm of major retailers realize that online shopping is a trend that won’t go away. One option is to fight it, an approach that most executives consider futile. Instead, many are embracing the reality of online shopping and changing business practices to reflect consumer demand.
For example, many major retailers now offer quick and easy in-store web pick-up and return, giving customers the opportunity to buy online for cheap, but still get their product in the same day. Some even give customers the option to pay for items selected online in cash at the store, a perk that online-only companies don’t offer.
But brick and mortar stores need to be more than convenient to compete with online shopping websites; they need to be inexpensive, too. After all, cost-effectiveness is one of the main reasons customers buy online. In response, many stores with an offline and online presence offer their online shoppers free shipping. They’re also starting to slash in-store prices; in late 2012, one major retail store specializing in technology plans to reduce prices in-store to match internet rates.
While the details of online shopping’s development remains to be seen, the fact remains: it’s here to stay. Those on the digital side will have to adapt for changing technologies, especially mobile and tablet devices, and brick and mortar stores will have to continue changing how they run to meet customers’ Internet-shaped expectations.
Kelly Rustin contributed this guest post for CheapSally.com. Kelly considers herself a shopping extraordinaire as she loves hunting down the best deals. She is also a freelance writer. Find out more about ZooStores.com deals.