Monday, May 16, 2011

So Yesterday

Malls are so last season.  Well, almost.  If you’ve ever decided the joy of going to the local mall (especially on weekends and holidays) was too much excitement to handle, and instead decided to buy online, you’re not alone.  We have a million things to do, and only 24 hours in a day (its not like we want to go to work, but we have to earn money somehow).  We do want the latest fashion, shoes, movies, books, and whatever else QVC has to offer (Jack LaLane power juicer?), but isn’t there a better way we can multi-task these time consuming purchases into our day?  It’s an honest question.  We have the demand, retailers have the supply, and it is in everyone’s best interest to have the most efficient exchange possible.
Enter online shopping.  It’s easy and addictive.  If you are reading this blog and have never bought anything online you have not been efficiently spending your time (reading this blog is a good first step).  Online shopping has become analogous to “brick and mortar” shopping (actual stores we go to), from offering boutique items (there are websites that sell your favorite celebrity looks) to the “big-box” mass retailers online (where would we be without Amazon).  For many retailers, online and physical stores are interchangeable (who doesn’t love when you can buy online and pick-up right in your local store to save time and shipping).  We can see what’s in stock and what the latest sales are before we go to the store (imagine the day when it will be old-school to go to the store to “try it on” in lieu of digital “try-ons”). 
Online shopping has become part of our everyday life.  Data released today shows 4.5% of all retail purchases Americans made during the first 3 months of this year were online.  This is up 0.4% over the same period last year.  Online sales even grew as a share of total retail purchases even through the 2008-09 recession, and forecasters believe online purchases as a share of total retail sales will reach 8%, or $248.7 billion, by 2014. 
Retailers are taking notice.  This is not new.  What is new is how retailers are finding new ways to reach us (they realized we have places to go and people to see).  In other words, they are going mobile and our habits are leading the way.  According to a 2011 survey of 68 retailers, 91% of retailers have or are developing a mobile outreach strategy, for example 35% of retailers have iPhone apps and 15% have Android and iPad apps.  Retailers have also realized how near and dear social networking sites are and 62% of retailers are investing in ways to facilitate online purchases through places like Facebook.
Our love of being constantly connected can be a win-win all around – our favorite smartphones and social websites are allowing us to be more efficient consumers and are allowing retailers to target us more effectively (the ultimate spyware).  We don’t have time to waste waiting in line (hello, isn’t American Idol down to only three contestants?).  After all, time is money, and we like money. 
(Census Bureau, Forrester Research, National Retail Federation)

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