In the early days of the internet, few people envisioned the possibility of massive numbers of consumers shopping online. There were too many barriers and there was too much that could go wrong to believe the World Wide Web would be more than a niche outlet for online shopping.
In fact, the results of an eMarketer survey reports, “74% of the Internet population over the age of 13 will shop online.” Online shopping, by the way, includes purchases from traditional e-commerce sites as well as online auctions.
Why Online Shopping?
There is an extensive list of reasons why consumers prefer online shopping to purchasing from brick and mortar high street stores. The three reasons most commonly cited are lower prices, convenience and better selection.
According to a Biz Rate/Shopzilla study, “71% of online shoppers report they were able to find better sales and discount offers online than offline via a retail or catalog merchant.” Oftentimes this is the case with e-commerce sites. One reason is their ability to house large quantities of inventory without the overhead of retail floor space, racks, utilities, salaries of salespeople and so forth.
In addition, online retailers can devote what space they have to greater inventory selections. This gives e-commerce sites a distinct advantage over traditional high street retailers when it comes to price and variety.
“74% of the Internet population over the age of 13 will shop online.”
The growing popularity of online shopping
Online auctions are also growing in popularity. Nothing could be closer to a garage sale lover’s dream come true than site after site devoted to the sale of used goods. Growing in popularity year after year, online auctions open the door to an entire world (literally!) of new and used products; everything from gently used Tupperware® bowls to new computers to cars can be found at Internet auctions.
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Overcoming the Barriers of Online Shopping
While online shopping has made its mark on societies worldwide, there are still some barriers that must be overcome before e-commerce sites and auctions can seriously go toe-to-toe with offline retailers. The most pressing of these barriers is shopping cart abandonment.
Internet shopping sessions end with no purchase
Estimates show that anywhere from 52% – 75% of all online shopping sessions end with shopping cart abandonment. E-commerce experts are able to make educated guesses about why many consumers leave without completing their transactions.
A lack of contact information, confusing checkout procedures, software glitches, undisclosed shipping rates and other reasons have been named as factors in lost transactions. E-commerce site owners would be wise to thoroughly investigate each of these reasons to ensure their shopping carts are reliable and user-friendly.
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Unclear checkout instructions are a source of frustration
Another reason is the shopper’s Internet education level. More experienced online shoppers may have more patience with checkout glitches than newbies. However, frustrations with unclear checkout instructions and complicated payment procedures have been known to send even the savviest Internet shopper off to another site.
Online shopping is expected to continue its upward swing. Internet Forrester Research cites, “By 2010, e-commerce sites will have a 14 percent compounded annual growth rate over six years.” Impressive, to say the least. It’s obvious that online consumers have no intentions of abandoning the Internet as a shopping source. As growth continues, and as e-commerce sites and auctions learn to adapt to customer demands, online shopping will continue to carve a deeper niche in the shopping arena.
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