Enhanced security features quickly made online shopping a widely acceptable method of commerce. Though financial investments are needed to produce attractive glitch-free Websites, online shopping has helped eliminate many overhead costs found with traditional brick-and-mortar facilities. That’s good news for some, particularly the consumers who sometimes get better deals as a result of the operational savings. Yet many traditional businesses are struggling because of the successes of e-commerce. The most forward-thinking operations have adjusted accordingly by embracing technology and producing first-rate online shopping experiences. Whilst others have sadly died out because of the consumers’ desire to shop from the comfort of home, any time and any day they choose.
Service-oriented businesses are still going strong, particularly those that provide assistance that simply cannot be offered online. Yet interestingly enough, they too choose to integrate technological advancements to help provide higher quality experiences for their customers.
Hair Salons (at least the higher-end ones) allow for easy online scheduling and will even send a confirmation via text and email. Once there, computer tablets are provided to enable clients to peruse various colours and styles. Clients wanting a change in look often arrive with photos in hand, not in a heavy stack of magazines like in the past but as downloaded images to one’s mobile. If having trouble choosing a new look there are many programmes available that allow one to upload an image and “try on” new styles before making any serious commitment.
Mobile Phone Dealers and other tech-oriented businesses where customers may want to get an actual feel for a product still do well in the real world. Sure, such items can be bought online but it’s always a good idea to check return policies before buying because personal taste in button placement, weight, image display, etc. is highly subjective. Other electronics items seem to do well both in actual building-based sales, as well as in online sales. Surprisingly though, more musical instruments are being bought online than in-store these days.
Restaurants have also embraced technology by devising mobile apps, creating online menus, and by allowing reservations and takeaway orders to be made with ease. Many dining establishments are also tracking mobile efforts by offering coupons and free add-on items if customers show the appropriate code. Such marketing ploys are great deals for diners and also show businesses where their time and resources can be best used to advantage. Some restaurants have also done away with paper order pads and replaced them with computer tablets linked directly to the kitchen’s ordering system, thereby assuring a faster and more accurate order.
Grocery stores are also still safe from becoming extinct, though they too are embracing technology. Many stores offer a Web-based version of the weekly ad, as well as coupons and buy-one-get-one free incentives that can be downloaded to one’s loyalty card or smartphone. Instead of clipping deals from the local paper, the sales can be searched and selected before every leaving home.
One would think consumer items such as shoes and clothing wouldn’t be so popular in e-commerce, yet business is booming. The smartest online merchants offer very clear sizing guidelines and product descriptions and also provide hassle-free return policies. They also factor in the costs of such benefits but the additional expense is often nominal. Mega corporations such as Amazon have most certainly effected traditional book and music sales, particularly with the design of the one-click shopping option that stores payment information in a private and secure manner.
Not all shopping can be done from the comfort of one’s flat, but the e-commerce boom has quite obviously changed consumerism, both in how people shop and how businesses are trying to swim with the changing tide. Most service-based entities should be able to hang in there, yet other models may need to rethink the way they do business if they hope to survive.