Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Online Effect on Retail Industry

Internet has overcome the barriers of time and space. The competitive age leaves consumers with very less time to spare for shop hopping to find the right kind of products. Retailers have realized the need to come up with e-commerce portals to cater their clients living in the fast lane. E-commerce sales are sales of goods and services where an order is placed by the buyer or price and terms of sale are negotiated over an Internet, extranet, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) network, electronic mail, or other online system. Payment may or may not be made online.

The e-commerce service gives the consumer to check and compare the products various manufacturers and decide on their choice of product without having invest time in travelling to the showroom. A large section of consumers find this convenient.  The idea seems to have worked too. As per statistics by the US Dept. of Commerce, e-commerce comprised a 75.2 percent of the total sales of furniture and home furnishings in 2009.

Retailers online thrive to improve the consumers buying experience online. There is a segment of software industry innovating applications for the purpose. Buyers can view the products in different dimensions to be assured of the quality. Ashley furniture in its online retail portal offers additional views feature which gives an enlarged look of the image of its furniture from various angles. (Give Ashley image)

Design Within Reach (DWR), a furniture retailer which with the aim to make modern design ‘accessible’ launched the DWR 3D Room Planner, an innovative online tool that allows users to design their own iconic rooms using DWR’s vast collection of furniture. This application has the potential to turn website visitors into potential clients, while, clients can judge suitability of the furniture they decide to buy online. (Give dwr pic)

The biggest cause of concern for consumers buying online is trustworthiness while conducting a transaction. Consumers are willing to pay online only after the assurance of a reliable deal. Hassle- and delay-free services, product delivery and after sales services add to the comprehensive list of services.

Social networking and blog sites are the new marketing tools to inform the buyers about products and offers by furniture industry players, retailing online or from stores located geographically. The web binds the entire globe together and those keeping away from the benefits offered by the internet are sure losing out on the experience and sales as well.

Mr. Booth about the growing phenomenon of online retailing says, “The internet allows the retailer to connect with the consumer faster and better than ever before. Being in connection with the consumer is the key which leads to sales. Retailers that are not texting, tweeting or posting are missing the opportunity to engage the consumer.”

The demographics of consumers have changed. He adds, “The Gen X and Gen Y now combine to be the largest segment of the US population. This has major impact on retailing and presents major challenges to overcome. Challenges that can only be met with the right product-product that is of design and value. The “new customer” made up of the Gen X and Gen Y has no defined spending patterns. It is for these challenges that being in connection with the consumer and capturing market share becomes pertinent.”

Read more on the current issue of Furniture & Accessories USA


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