Quick: Think of the last few purchases you made. Chances are many of them were done online – groceries included, if you have Amazon Prime, and especially if you live in a major city.
It’s easy. No schlepping bags on the subway; your fingers, not your legs, did the walking to find an item located across the world; and who doesn’t love to see a parcel waiting on the doorstep (or watching the tracking updates bring the item closer and closer to home)?
But brands can’t just put items online for sale and think that’s enough to have customers flocking to purchase from their sites. From Mintel’s June “Online Shopping” report: Customers are looking for value-added extras, even if limitedly so. These can include free shipping, simple steps to checkout, live chats and reviews, but – not surprisingly – the lowest price reigns supreme. May the best site win.
According to Mintel, “Few industries are plagued with the peculiar trend seen in online retailing, in which rapid sales growth is often paired with limited to negligible profits. This issue is engendered by savvy online shoppers, trained to seeing the channel primarily as a means to deep discounts. However, e-tailers themselves contribute to the problem, as they often see no alternative means of competing effectively outside of price points. A more attractive means of growth lies in distinctions in inventory, with a focus on a private brand or exclusive items available nowhere else.”