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With almost every high street retailer having an online presence and many other businesses choosing to be based exclusively online, the world of ecommerce is thriving more than ever with online sales estimated to grow to $250 billion by 2014. Retail website giants like
Attractive, intuitive website design works similarly to modern retail outlets that are designed with the psychological processes of the consumer in mind. Special offers are displayed at the entrance of a shop front and the aisles and displays are structured to guide consumers around the shop in a particular fashion. In the same vein, big business prioritise the ‘user experience’ aspect of their sites to draw visitors to certain pages. SEO is also used to bring sites to the forefront of the ‘virtual high streets’ that are the SERPs.
I personally love using the ‘net to find bargains you often just can’t find on the high street; and auction websites have no doubt helped to democratise who can sell online. Upon the recent announcement that the Fresh Egg team are planning to shortly begin recording and editing video footage for our blog, the need to acquire a company video camera was obvious.
After spending a frustrating hour searching the WWW for the best value deals, it became apparent that such an important purchase would benefit from the personal touch of a sales assistant and/or camera expert. This led to the assertion that there are a few goods (particularly those of a technological nature) which consumers are better off buying in person instead of online.
Many of the electronic retailers we came across on our search had clear images and prices for the cameras that they sell. Any inclusion of technical specifications was generally limited to the same brief descriptions one would expect printed on the items box, many of which would be beyond the camera knowledge of the average customer.
Fresh Egg is looking for a quality camera that is easy to operate but this is almost impossible to determine without getting hands-on with a device– even when the internet is littered with other customers reviews, since user experience is quite personal. Similarly, mobile phones are becoming a device you need tactile experience with before committing to buy– particularly so as touch screen enabled handsets become the norm.
It can be difficult if problems arise with a device that you have purchased online, since the process of buying online is largely a faceless one which can make it harder to reach a satisfying solution. You can send items back to whomever you have purchased them from of course but this will delay your gratification of the product or the receipt of your refund.
The growth of ecommerce will not make the high street obsolete. Despite the speed, ease convenience and security of shopping online, the fact remains that the process of purchasing certain products and services demands a physical, hands-on experience that cannot be replicated online. When was the last time you got a hair cut by clicking your mouse button?
A few years back when music download services came to the fore, industry ‘experts’ were keen to ring in the death knells for physical music retailers like HMV. Such businesses have however endured by adjusting their strategy to effectively combine on and offline shopping opportunities, staying afloat as a result.
Add to this the public’s propensity to treat shopping as a hobby or leisure activity and it is clear that the ol’ dog we call the high street as some life left in it yet. Saying that we aren’t particularly looking forward to braving the bitter weather and hordes of Christmas shoppers to look for our camera!