December 18, 2010

Virtual Malls and Other Fun Holiday Treats

If you celebrate Christmas and have had the pleasure of visiting one of your local retail outlets in the last couple of weeks, you know that you are certainly not alone with regards to leaving the shopping list until the last minute. It is crunch time, the last weekend before the big day and the race is on.

Stores and malls are crawling with people these days. Each purchase may not be as large as it was three years ago and the average shopper may not be spending as much overall, but that does not have much relevance as you are trying desperately to find a parking spot at the mall this weekend.

The Virtual Parking Space

Changes on the web happen faster than we can seem to measure but there is ample evidence to prove that those malls and shops would be even busier without the invention of online shopping.

Here are some highlights from a Statistics Canada report on online shopping from last year.

In 2009, Canadians spent $15 Billion in online purchases with an average of $150 a pop. 51% were aged 16-34, travel and events were the biggest sellers while men bought electronics online at a rate of 2:1 to women.

Search. Seek. Shop.

To think that online purchases are replacing in-store sales is not quite the case. In fact, almost 70% of those who search for an item online then buy it at the retail location. Which points to the necessity of a solid web presence and great customer service. As well, evidence is certainly showing that those numbers will be moving around for a while as we buy more large ticket items from the comfort of our sweat pants.

Zappos is an online shoe retailer that has been used countless times to illustrate how to build a successful online business. One critical element of their success is filling orders quickly and accurately.

They began with securing major delivery hubs so they could back up their promise. Zappos doesn’t discount, they don’t deal but they give superior service right to your door. And for that, millions have responded.

Consumer reaction is influenced more by peer groups 
than external persuasion.

Groupon was just named the fastest start-up to reach $1 Billion in sales in just two years. It has grown so quickly that Google recently offered founder Andrew Mason
$6 Billion for control of the company and he turned them down.

The online search has become the growing entry point which is why search engine optimization has exploded. However if you don't know what customers are searching for, all the tricks in said book won't help.

TripAdvisor, Yelp, FourSquare and many other social networking sites are tapping into the intersection of online and on-site buying habits but security, convenience, choice, return policy and proximity are all valid reasons why after some online research, most still head to the mall. For now...

Happy shopping!

knealemann | email

image credit: istock
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