The way in which consumers shop has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, creating many exciting new business opportunities for entrepreneurs. In particular, it means that you no longer need an expensive storefront to launch a successful retail business and that you can succeed out of your home with a small initial investment and even get started part-time.
The popularity of online shopping has soared, and recent statistics show that 51 percent of Americans not only prefer to shop online but 80 percent have made a purchase online in the past month alone. So does the traditional storefront still have a place in retail? How do we see retail changing over the next 20 years?
With the speed and popularity of online shopping and new ecommerce startups, we might predict that stores will at some point altogether disappear, but this sweeping statement may certainly not be true in the present. As consumers, there is still that urge to go out and shop. Yes, there may be cheaper options online, but the experience and social aspects of shopping make it a big part of why people love the traditional experience. We might not prefer to buy in-store unless there’s a good deal or offer, but looking at the products, feeling them, and experiencing them for ourselves is something consumers still desire when choosing what to buy.
Blurring the Lines of Traditional Retail and Online Shopping
An individual’s distinction between online and traditional shopping has become blurred in recent years. Consumers are no longer seeing each as a separate transaction but an extension of their shopping experience. How often would you say, when seeing a product in store, “I wonder if I can find it cheaper online, or perhaps I’ll order that online but get it delivered to the store?” These interacting transactions between store and online platforms give you the chance to engage with a full shopping experience.
In reaction to this, retailers have to make big changes in how they operate a business. For many, this wasn’t just a case of opening an online shop and hoping for the best. Many successful retailers have targeted their efforts both online and offline to perform via both mediums. For example, if you manage a screen printing shop, online platforms are a great way to boost your audience in a natural way as the modern shopper not only loves mass-produced wares, but they are now searching for independent and quirky stores online to get that unique user and product experience.
As we’ve seen, e-commerce isn’t just about the big contenders in retail. The internet has paved the way to host a whole range of smaller, boutique stores solely selling online, each offering a new and fresher approach to traditional shopping.
Giving Customers a Choice
As the digital disruption continues to upend retailers who struggle to compete with the ever-changing e-commerce climate, we as consumers reap the benefits of so much choice in the market. But is there too much choice? Well, I’m sure most would agree, that you can never have too much choice, but with time constraints and busy schedules, scouring the internet for the latest deals is sometimes a frustrating chore. This is where the trusty local store comes into play. Could you imagine not having somewhere to go for the essentials, as you have to order everything online? The traditional retail shop, although on a smaller scale, will still be relevant even in the future growth of e-commerce.
Online Shopping in Society
Making purchases is just a typical part of everyday life in modern society. The number of people shopping online on a daily basis is shaping the way e-commerce is developing for the modern shopper. Consumers are not only looking for the best deals in the current climate, but availability and shipping costs are also important factors as we enter an “I want it and I want it now” era.
Social media is another shaping feature of online purchases. The influence and reach of targeted adverts on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are catapulting shopping trends into a new direction. Real-time feedback and reviews also give retailers a defining factor as many online shoppers are influenced by social media recommendations not only from friends but complete strangers as well. These huge platforms are key conversion tools for retailers, and, as we move into the future, the medium will continue to be a defining feature in the growth of e-commerce.
Disclaimer: The content on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal, tax, or accounting advice. If you have specific questions about any of these topics, seek the counsel of a licensed professional.