Internet marketing trends are a serious interest of the local businesses in the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce. An interesting article in the recent issue of The Economist outlined some current trends and stated, “Many retailers are being too slow in reinventing themselves for the age of online shopping.”
The Internet has changed the way we do everything. It has changed the way we communicate, the way we search for and receive information, and the way in which we look for and purchase goods and services. It is changing the world.
The Economist goes on to provide some statistics:
- Online sales are now approaching $200 billion a year in the United States.
- The online share of total retail sales is slowly creeping upward from about 5 percent in 2007 to about 9 percent now.
- People in their 20s and 30s do about a quarter of their shopping online.
- One-third of people in the U.S. own a smart phone and 70 percent of these use it to do searches while they are inside a store, usually to compare prices.
- Four years ago, hardly anyone used their mobile device for purchases. Now, nearly one-fourth of online purchases are made with a mobile device.
While the trends indicate more movement towards Internet sales, our community has a vested interest in supporting local businesses and preserving our “brick and mortar” establishments. Strong local businesses are the economic backbone of our community.
First, local businesses pay commercial property taxes that support fire, public safety, and schools. The sales taxes generated in local businesses support the same services.
Next, local businesses employ your neighbors and provide jobs. Employment opportunities are a good indicator of economic strength.
Finally, local businesses create a rich and interesting retail experience. There are some purchases that customers want to see, feel, or compare in a welcoming, friendly environment. That experience is not currently available on the Internet.
Smaller retailers work very hard to make their retail stores enjoyable places to be where the customer receives excellent service, and can find the desired products. Their goal is to make shopping a delight for the customer.
“The most clued-up shopkeepers realize that they must make … their stores more enjoyable places to visit,” said the Economist. “Things that are being bought online must be swept off the shelves to make way for products that people still want to examine and compare before buying.”
Being aware of Internet marketing trends will keep our local businesses competitive in a changing retail world.