Monthly Archives: April 2017

Distinction between online and offline shopping

Consumers no longer see a distinction between online and offline shopping. Whether it’s searching on a laptop, browsing main street shops or hanging out at the mall — it’s all shopping. To adapt to the competitive new reality, smart retailers are drawing on classic retailing truths of the past and augmenting them for the now.

Innovative retailers are embracing this new reality, using digital to extend their storefronts. These are my top five observations on how shopping has changed and suggestions for how marketers can adapt to join the retail revolution.

1. Shoppers know as much as salespeople

Then: People came into stores with little to no knowledge and relied on a salesperson to advise them on what to buy.

Now: Today’s shoppers have become accustomed to doing their own research to get the maximum value out of every dollar they spend, and to feel secure about the purchases they’re making. With this power shift comes a great opportunity for retailers; those that use tools and insights from the web have the opportunity to close the gap between the smart online consumer and the offline retailer, and to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Every moment in a consumer’s decision journey matters. To win these moments, smart retailers need to be there when inspiration strikes consumers and as they start researching purchases online.

2. Retailers can deliver personal, relevant suggestions at scale

Then: Retailing began with shopkeepers who would welcome in people from the neighborhood and then come to learn their customers’ needs and preferences.

Now: In our constantly connected world, a device is just a proxy for what really matters — getting to know your customers. Devices provide context, helping us learn what matters to a consumer in a particular location and at a particular time. Coupled with the intent provided by search, this is incredibly powerful. It can help retailers deliver relevant suggestions, essentially recreating those shopkeeper conversations at scale. The right message at the right moment is the next level in customer service — it can quickly and easily turn intent into action.

Context also allows retailers to better than ever anticipate what a customer might need based on when, where and how they arrive at their site and help them decide how to respond to them. People are constantly looking for product information, deals, local availability and local discounts online — and retailers who aren’t there to supply the right information when people raise their virtual hand will lose out.

3. Mobile devices drive foot traffic to stores

Then: Finding the right store — and the product you needed — depended on familiarity, or serendipity.

Now: As the lines blur between online and offline, innovative retailers are integrating mobile into their brick-and-mortar store experience. When shoppers search for a store name or category, they expect to see a map with directions, a phone number that they can easily click-to-call, or special offers that match their location and time of day. Adidas worked with their agency iProspect to evaluate how mobile clicks on their store locator links were driving in-store sales, and found that for a mobile investment of $1 million, the value brought by store locator clicks in mobile ads generated an extra $1.6 million in sales.

The search element of shopping doesn’t end once the customer walks into a store. At some point, we’ve all been lost in the supermarket, searching the aisles for an elusive item. Mobile can be a map, a shopping list, a personal shopper, a salesperson and a product finder all at once.

4. Opinions carry more weight than ever

Then: Retail therapy was an activity shared by friends and family — and word of mouth was a social force that transformed new products into must-haves and small shops into retail empires.

Now: This is truer than ever. With YouTube and social networks like G+, people are now sharing their opinion on products not just with a group of friends, but with millions of people. This is why Google Shopping incorporates reviews and introduced shortlists to make it easy for people to discuss products and purchases with friends and family. Smart retailers are recognizing the opportunities that lie in digital where instead of basing campaigns on the broadest reach possible they can now zero in and speak directly with the individuals, or communities of fans, who love their products most. Retailers are also seizing the opportunities around online comments by advertising against terms like “reviews” and working to promote the positive and counteract the negative.

 

Shopping Online

Online buying and selling has become an important part of many people’s lives. Students and parents rely on the internet to acquire and sell textbooks at affordable prices, virtual stores allow people to shop from the comfort of their homes without the pressure of a salesperson, and online marketplaces provide a new and more convenient venue for the exchange of virtually all types of goods and services.

Both businesses and customers have embraced online sales as a cheaper and more convenient way to shop, but just like anything associated with the internet, there are benefits and dangers associated with shopping online. Read on to learn how to protect yourself while you use this handy resource. (To read more on online buying, see Keep Your Financial Data Safe Online and 10 Things To Consider Before Selecting An Online Broker.)

Mechanics: How Does Online Buying Work?
Shopping online is just like heading out to the store. You can buy all the same things from your home computer and can sometimes even get access to better sales.

Finding a Product
When you shop online, you have to start by searching for a product. This can be done by visiting a store’s website or, if you are not aware of any store that has the particular item you are looking for or you’d like to compare prices between stores, you can always search for the items with a search engine and compare the results.

On major retail websites, companies and merchants will have pictures, descriptions and prices of the goods that they have for sale. If a smaller company does not have the means to create a website, some sites like Amazon and Yahoo! make it possible for small businesses and individuals to display products or build their own online stores for a monthly and transaction fee.

Other websites like eBay and Bidz provide an auction format, in which sellers can display items for a minimum price and buyers can bid on these items until the listing ends or the seller chooses to award it to a buyer. Most stores also have placed virtual customer service centers on their websites, so you can either call, email or chat with a live customer service representative if you have questions.

Buying and Receiving the Product
After finding and selecting your desired product, the webpage usually has a “checkout” option. When you check out, you are often given a list of shipping and payment options. Shipping options include standard, expedited and overnight shipping. Depending on the shipping company being used and your location, standard shipping usually takes seven to 21 business days and expedited shipping can take anywhere from two to six business days.

When it comes to paying for your purchase(s), there are also different options:

  • E-Check: This payment option is just like paying directly from your bank account. If you choose to pay by electronic check, you are required to enter your routing and account numbers. Once this is done, the amount is taken directly from your bank account.
  • Credit Card: When you pay by credit card, instead of swiping your card like you would at a brick-and-mortar store, you type the required credit card information into provided fields. Required information includes your credit card number, expiration date, type of card (Visa, MasterCard, etc) and verification/security number, which is usually the last three digits on the back of the card, right above the signature.
  • Payment Vendors: Payment vendors or payment processing companies, such as PayPal, are ecommerce businesses that provide payment exchange services. They allow people to safely transfer money to one another without sharing financial information. Before you make purchase through a payment vendor, you’ll need to set up an account first to verify your credit card and/or financial institution information.

Advantages of Online Trading
There are a lot of benefits to be gained from buying and selling online. These include:

  • Convenience: It is very convenient to be able to do all your shopping from one spot – your couch!
  • Cost Savings: With ever-increasing gas prices, shopping online saves you the cost of driving to and between stores as well parking fees. You will also save time by avoiding standing in line, particularly around the holidays, when stores are very busy.
  • Variety: The internet provides sellers with unlimited shelf space, so they are more likely to offer a wider variety of products than they would in brick-and-mortar stores.
  • No Pressure: In a virtual or online store, there is no salesperson hovering around and pressuring you to purchase an item.
  • Easy Comparison: Shopping online eliminates the need to wander from store to store trying to compare prices.

Disadvantages of Online Trading
There are also disadvantages to buying and selling online. These include:

  • Increased Risk of Identity Theft: When paying for your goods online, it can be very easy for someone to intercept sensitive information such as a credit card number, address, phone number or account number. (To read more about online scams, see Identity Theft: How To Avoid It and our Online Investment Scams Tutorial.)
  • Vendor Fraud: If the vendor/seller is fraudulent, he or she might accept your payment and either refuse to send you your item, or send you the wrong or a defective product. Trying to rectify an incorrect order with a vendor through the internet can be a hassle.

Protecting Yourself While Shopping Online
Overall, the advantages to shopping online outweigh the disadvantages. That said, it is important to note that while they might be smaller in number, the disadvantages can be a major hardship.

While shopping online, it is very important to protect yourself and your information. Here are some tips that can help you take care of yourself:

  • Invest in Technology: It is a great idea to install antivirus and anti-phishing programs on your computer. An antivirus program will protect your computer from viruses and an anti-phishing program will attempt to protect you from websites that are designed look like legitimate sites, but actually collect your personal information for illegal activities.
  • Be Careful: Vendors do not have the right to ask for certain information. If a website requests your Social Security number, it is probably a scam. You will need to research the company requesting the information or exit that site as quickly as possible.
  • Research: If you are searching for an item using search engines and you encounter a store or a website you have not heard about, make sure you check the bottom of the pages for an SSL logo. SSL is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. To be able to create an SSL connection a web server requires an SSL certificate.
  • Shipping Check: Always read shipping policies posted on the seller’s website or beneath the product listing. Some sellers allow you to return an item within a specific period of time, while other vendors never accept returns.

shopping could be called one of America’s favorite

 The mall with your girlfriends on a Saturday afternoon, to holiday spending on gifts that go under the tree, shopping could be called one of America’s favorite pastimes.For most people, it means some new clothes for work or a small trinket for a friend. For others, however, shopping is much more than an enjoyable pastime, and in some cases, it is a real and destructive addiction that can turn into a financial disaster.

“Compulsive shopping and spending are defined as inappropriate, excessive, and out of control,” says Donald Black, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa College of Medicine. “Like other addictions, it basically has to do with impulsiveness and lack of control over one’s impulses. In America, shopping is embedded in our culture; so often, the impulsiveness comes out as excessive shopping.”

Sometimes referred to as “shopoholism,” shopping addiction can wreak havoc on a person’s life, family, and finances. Experts explain to WebMD why shopping can be so addictive, what the warning signs are, and how to stop the cycle of spending.

“No one knows what causes addictive behaviors, like shopping, alcoholism, drug abuse, and gambling,” says Ruth Engs, EdD, a professor of applied health science at Indiana University. “Some of the new evidence suggests that some people, maybe 10%-15%, may have a genetic predisposition to an addictive behavior, coupled with an environment in which the particular behavior is triggered, but no one really knows why.”

While the origin of addictions remains uncertain, why addicts continue their destructive behaviors is better understood.

“Individuals will get some kind of high from an addictive behavior like shopping,” says Engs. “Meaning that endorphins and dopamine, naturally occurring opiate receptor sites in the brain, get switched on, and the person feels good, and if it feels good they are more likely to do it — it’s reinforced.”

So what are the telltale signs that shopping has crossed the line and become an addiction?

Closed its more than wedding dress

The reason: Alfred Angelo abruptly closed its more than 60 wedding dress stores on Wednesday, leaving brides racing to figure out if they would get the gowns they had already ordered. On Friday, the company filed for bankruptcy.

The closings added an element of panic to a wedding process often filled with stress, and brides and bridesmaids shared their exasperation on Twitter and Facebook. They rushed to figure out the status of their orders, and store employees were left trying to explain the situation.

Cyndi Whitten of Houston, whose daughter had ordered a $1,500 gown from Alfred Angelo for her wedding in October, said: “This has turned into the most difficult and stressful part of the whole thing. You just wanted to sit there and burst into tears because your daughter’s easy part of the wedding isn’t so easy. The company, which opened in 1933, did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment. Patricia Redmond, a lawyer who represents Alfred Angelo, did not return a phone call.

In a letter to customers obtained by The New York Times, Ms. Redmond wrote that the company would “encourage” the bankruptcy trustee to “finish and fulfill as many orders as possible.”

“The company regrets that this action will have dramatic impact on you,” Ms. Redmond wrote in the letter.

Despite the uproar after the store closings, Alfred Angelo has said nothing about the situation publicly. Some customers realized that the company had shut down after finding signs posted on locked store doors.

A private company based in Delray Beach, Fla., Alfred Angelo sold its dresses at 1,400 other retailers, in addition to operating its own stores, according to its website. Like other bridal companies, it has faced pressure from bridal fashion start-ups and traditional retailers pushing low prices. In its bankruptcy filing, the company said it had no more than $50,000 in assets, but more than $50 million in liabilities.

Competitors were rushing to capitalize on the company’s demise. David’s Bridal offered discounts to Alfred Angelo customers if they can show a receipt from the store, as well as free rushed alterations.

Alfred Angelo’s failure led Alex Pacifico and her co-workers at the company’s bridal store near Dayton, Ohio, to spend Thursday essentially running a guerrilla retail operation. They scrambled to get customers gowns they had ordered and told customers to take sample items they had on hand.