Although we may not be excited about it, by now we are used to this economic climate. Even as we work to constantly enhance our personal economy, we know the face of the larger financial situation like the back of our hands (especially as it relates to shopping -- after all it's that Holiday shopping season).
I;s the classic retail challenge in a strained economy:
1. higher unemployment rates equals less retail shopping,
2. fear about our personal economy equals less retail shopping, and
3. less shopping usually means less retail income.
But all business, including small business, has a sense of yin and yang. While other aspects of our economy continue to struggle, the good news is e-commerce is rebounding strongly.
Online retail sales received four consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, according to US Commerce Department. In fact, Internet Retailer reports that e-commerce outdid itself in the 3rd quarter by capturing a larger portion of the market than it ever has in the past, *4.2% of total retail sales. In the *first three months of 2010 e-retail generated $38.7 billion.
So what is creating this shift in spending in spite of the economy? Or are we to assume that it signifies the economy is improving?
Perhaps i-s a bit of both- the economy is improving, and more spending is shifting online.
SHOPPING IS SHIFTING TO ONLINE
According to the International Telecommunication Union, as of 2008 *75% of US citizens have access to the internet. The numbers have grown steadily since 1990. But only one generation, the millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, have grown up with the internet. In effect, the web is still a baby, and what it can do is still in development.
Forrester e-commerce analyst, Sucharita Mulpuru believes that customers are steadily getting used to the internet as an everyday shopping option because'more consumers have more access to the web more hours daily than ever before' In an article by *Internet Retailer, a cool site for e-commerce intelligence, she goes on to say that'the shopping experience, frankly, is getting to be more fun. You can create outfits online. You can share products with others. You can read customer opinions...you can watch videos. I's a much more immersive experience than ever before and that engages people' And when people engage in a retail setting, profits rise.
BUT THE ECONOMY IS IMPROVING, TOO
According to the latest information from the Federal Reserve Bank''Beige Boo' *the economy is improving. As is always the case with the economy, you can only tell it has improved by looking backwards. And improvement usually starts slowly and builds, so often the signs are hard to see. But it seems the signs of improvement are around us.
Business is business, and improving the customer experience on and offline can improve the bottom line. It seems to be working for e-commerce. Coupled with the convenience of shopping at home it seems to be a win-win (especially on, say, a rainy day).
So, yes, the public is increasingly shopping online and seems to find the experience a positive one. But, let's not ignore the fact that the economy also seems to be improving - suggesting consumers will have more money to spend in the near future. If you're not selling online, perhaps you should consider it in your business.
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*Note: Link directs reader to non-government website