A few thoughts on Sunday’s New York Times article, “Online Sales Lose Steam.”
- The placement of the story, front page, above the fold, in the Sunday paper, seems misaligned with the topic’s importance. Online sales in 2006 were nearly a quarter trillion dollars. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the growth rates are slowing down.
- It’s great to see stories that reference retailers “livening up their stores to be more appealing.” Perhaps this is the result of competitive pressure from online only retailers. Or, maybe the Internet has helped improve the store-buying experience by allowing customers to find deep product information before they go to the store, thus being a better educated customer when they walk through a store’s doors. Or, maybe the convenience of shopping from the comfort of your home at any hour also contributes to consumers feeling better about shopping.
- Are online retailers really giving customers a “blasé” experience as the article suggests? If blasé means that customers are more satisfied, then so be it. In 2006, Amazon.com and Overstock.com were included in the top five companies honored with the “Customers’ Choice” award, given to companies that have achieved a reputation for excellence in customer service by the NRF Foundation/American Express Customer Service Survey.
- It’s time to stop thinking about “online retail,” as its own industry and start thinking about it as part of the overall retail industry. Whether its online, catalog or stores – they’re serving the same customers. And, if there was any doubt that they are inextricably linked, look at some of the data about how online influences offline sales. According to JupiterResearch, in 2007, the Internet will influence nearly 600% more sales offline than it will generate online.
Please feel free to share any other thoughts about this topic.