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Web Influence on Retail Sales


Internet: Key to Our Shopping Decision

By Koral Kanca- RB Media Group of Toronto, October 2, 2010
There is no question that Internet has changed the way business is being conducted. Today more than ever, shoppers will do their research before they make the final shopping decision. Why? Because it is free and it is easily accessible anytime. Whether it is a vacation destination, buying clothing, a car or jewelleries ….We all do some research on the products we are planning to purchase or the place we are planning to visit, the restaurant where we are going to have dinner…..and the majority will do their research online.

The time is just right, also, for the furriers to get involve and take advantage of this opportunity in digital media. Passing their messages and showcasing their product line has never been easier and cheaper in comparison with printing brochures and catalogues. The Internet can be a tool enabling people in the Fur Industry to reach literally millions of new customers everyday.

The Internet is already redefining the relationship between businesses and consumers. For the first time in history a small-to-medium sized company can reach all over the globe to share information about their products and services. Any size business now can advertise and reach customers on a global scale,-that just a few years ago was available to only a hand full of large corporations. Another big advantage of advertising on the Internet is the fact that the Internet is always on. Your businesses image is shared 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. Shoppers can visit your site at their convenience from the comfort of their own homes. It is like having your business doors open 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

More than ever, studies shows that consumers who are planning to buy a TV, laptop or other electronic gadget these days are relying heavily on the Internet to conduct their researches.

Apparently the Internet has been twice as important as family and friend’s suggestions when it comes to making the purchase decision, as per Google Canada’s findings.

The same is true for some other product categories, such as cars, wireless phones, clothing, jewelleries, running shoes even groceries. Consumer spends on average of 32 hours online researching the product before they make the buying decision.

Study is also show that advertisers should pay attention to digital advertising as the web influenced offline sales –retail sale- is becoming important part of our decision-making process. (in USA this amount is 42% of the $917 Billion Dollar – Forrester Research Group)

The opportunity for business to influence shopper’s decision-making online is high (called web-influenced), study has confirmed. Less than half of online browsers are committed to a specific brand before they start their search online. However this likely can change when they start their online research and find some other attractive brand they like.

The Internet ranked twice as high as friends and family when it comes to making an informed decision. Some 54% of the shoppers researched online while only 26% asked their family and friends, only 6% noted TV as a source of information.

Just under half of the online shoppers used search engines to find product information, while the rest of the shoppers went directly to the retailer’s or manufacturer’s website. Around 61% of browsers look for information online about the product that they are planning to purchase before they make their final shopping.

Most popular items for online shoppers continue to be travel, entertainment, books, magazines, clothing, jewellery and accessories.

Online shopping still represents a very small number of total retail sales. In fact a few major national retailers don’t have fully transactional websites including the Bay, Zellers, Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire. But others are taking advantage of the technology and making the best out of it.

However the arrival of “smart phones” is expected to accelerate the online shopping growth and smart phones will take the online shopping experience one step further. With the technology retailers, for example will be able to deliver coupon to the users phone store near their areas. This will have a huge impact on online shopping in the very near future.

Here are some interesting data on online sales & web-influenced retail sales

According to Statistics Canada

Canadians bought $15.1 billion worth of goods and services online last year (2009). This figure is up 17% from $12.8 billion over the previous two years (2008).

According to Forrester Research Group – USA & Western Europe

In USA online retail sales were $155.2 Billion in 2009 and this number will grow steadily 10% for the next 5 years and will reach $258.7 billion by 2014.

In Western Europe online retail sales were $93 Billion (68 Billion Euros) in 2009, this number will grow slightly faster at the rate of 11% to $158 Billion (114.5 billion Euros) by 2014.

In USA while the online retail sales were $155.2 Billion last year, a far larger portion of offline sales were influenced by online research. According to Forrester estimates $917 Billion worth of retail sales were “Web-Influenced”. Forrester also estimate that Online and web-influenced offline sales combined accounted for 42% of total retail sales, and this percentage will grow to 53% by 2014.

(Forrester estimate doesn’t include the online sales of auto, travel and prescription drugs)

Koral Kanca
RB Media Group