Taking Online Shopping Offline

Online Shoppers who choose to forgo shipping chargers visit Walmart to pick up items ordered online.Link to NYTimes article “Luring Online Shoppers Offline”

Online shopping has caused retailers such as Macy’s, Best Buy, Sears and The Container Store to loose millions in sales. Consumers have had such a profound obsession with purchasing a product at the lowest price possible that almost every product sold at traditional retail stores is constantly being matched up with prices online. Currently, Best Buy is even going to the extent of customizing the bar codes on their products so they cannot be scanned by consumers so they are able to look up online prices from sites such as Amazon.

To avoid having in store sales reach an all time low, retailers are attempting to lure consumers into the store by promoting their own online operations on site. Walmart has made an effort to add Web return centers, pickup locations, free shipping outlets, payment booths, and drive-through customer service centers for online sales to appeal to the growing amount of online shoppers.

Retailers like Walmart believe that they could potentially have an advantage over their online retail competitors due to the fact that shopping offline eliminates the expensive shipping fees. Walmart gives customers a variety of options such as being able to order products from their online website and then being able to pick it up and pay for it at the store, thus appealing to customers who have a trend of preferring to pay cash for products.

From focusing on the cash option, Walmart has seen a dramatic rise in demand due to promoting online pickup at their stores, which now accounts for half their sales. As a whole, Walmart has the advantage of appealing to customers that do not have a bank account of credit cards. In addition, the in store pickup also appeals to consumers that favor to buy items in bulk that do not qualify for online purchases.

Fellow retailers of Walmart such as The Container Store and Sears have taken on site purchasing to a new level by promoting a drive-through service that allows for consumers  to get what they need on the go. This service has also seen great success because it appeals to the consumers who shop online because they do not have the time to navigate their way through the retail store to purchase the products they need. Recently, a new trend has shown that customers who used this pick up  service have caused them to visit 50% more than customers who regularly shop in the store.

The competition between traditional retailers and e-commerce companies will continue to exist, but the efforts made by the traditional retailers to keep up with online shopping have been greatly significant. With all the new bells and whistles added to their offline services, will retailers truly be able to take shopping offline for good?

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/business/retailers-lure-online-shoppers-offline.html?_r=0

9 thoughts on “Taking Online Shopping Offline

  1. I think these companies have some great ideas. I rarely go into a store without looking at potential purchases online first. I also hate paying for shipping. If I can’t find a coupon code online for free shipping or a percent off I almost always go to the physical store to make the actual purchase. The new ways that these companies are implementing online aspects to the physical store sound great.

  2. This is important because retailers really need to strategize if they do not want to see a huge fall in revenues. As retailers have found methods such as “pickup at their stores” to be very appealing, I do not believe that they can take shopping offline for good. Online shopping makes it easier for shoppers to search for cheaper prices, different colors, and different styles. Also, it saves so much more time by just sitting in front of a computer rather than having to drive out to a mall. It is true that noone likes to pay for shipping, however, sometimes the price difference in the original product makes up for the shipping costs.

  3. While I do not believe that shopping offline can be completely eliminated, the techniques and strategies that the companies you mentioned are very interesting and are targeting their major customer bases. For example, Wal-Mart allowing people to order online and then pick-up and pay in store allows people without the flexibility of a credit card to pay in their favored method. Also, when I think of The Container Store and customers wanting to optimize organization, it makes complete sense that a drive-through set-up would be beneficial to their customers. The tailoring of distribution methods to customers is opening the channels of distribution for Wal-Mart and The Container Store products and allowing more customers to be more satisfied with their purchase by not spending time looking for each item in the store.

  4. i agree with lpalarz that offline shopping cannot be completely eliminated regardless of the low prices offered. I believe customers usually buy inelastic products online which are those used everyday or not take a big part of their income. Moreover, Some people need to feel, touch and see the physical product before buying the product, they enjoy the idea going out and shop.
    I came across this statistic that only 12% of North America out of world population have internet access. We are near impossible that offline shopping can be eliminated.

  5. I also agree with lpalarz, although retailers have come up with different strategies to keep their customers, like Walmart having the option for customers to pick up their orders in store because that helps the customer save time by having to wait for their item to arrive in the mail and shipping charges, plus it can also help the retailer’s point of sale on the spot. I don’t think offline shopping can ever be eliminated, there are customers out there who prefer having hands on experience with the item they want to purchase. Common items such as Apple products, desktops, laptops, or televisions, people can be purchased online because people will most likely know the product and majority of the sites will have descriptions of the item, and would rather compare different sites such as newegg, amazon, or ebay to see which site has the lowest price set for sale. For those who prefer to get hands on the items, or do not have the patience to wait for their items to arrive, or fear other people would get hold of their credit card number would rather purchase the product from their local retail store and pay full price or at times purchase item on a discount.

  6. While Walmart gives the option of online pickup, some people may still want to shop online. Consumers are more or less trading costs. In other words, people can opt to pay for expensive shipping or they can pay for transportation to Walmart. Let’s say a consumer uses a car driving to Walmart(gasoline prices vary all over America). I think a true saver would understand this concept, or even go to the extremes of calculating gasoline prices and comparing the amount to shipping expenses.

    I think it’s also important to note that Cook County has the highest sales tax rate in the country (9.5%). In a local sense, Chicagoans might be able to save more money by purchasing goods online.

    Where I obtained the sales tax rate.

  7. I think retailers that are offering a pick-up option is a good idea for customers who like to shop online. I, myself as an online shopper like to pick up items at the store itself without having it shipped because of the expensive shipping costs. It’s also quicker and I save time from browsing through the store. I also get the luxury of researching the product beforehand and reading reviews before making the final decision. I personally think, “taking online shopping offline” is just a different approach to the traditional online shopping and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  8. I’m glad someone has chosen to bring this issue up. I know that technology seems to be running everything these days and I can only imagine how the future will look, but there has to be a certain stopping point. I’m an online window shopper to pass the time, but nothing beats actually going into a store and looking at all the products. I’ve noticed that many stores either have a different selection online than in the actual store or they have less, so I appreciate walking into the store and trying out the items to see if I would even want to purchase it. I understand where you’re coming from when it comes to certain products, but not everything needs to be bought online. What if there’s an item that you think you might like, but when you get it you absolutely can’t stand it so you have to pay money for it to be shipped back? To me that’s a waste of time when you could’ve just gone to the store in the first place to check it out, then if the item ends up being cheaper online you can buy it online but only if you know it’s exactly what you want. I personally hope that online shopping doesn’t take over because I actually enjoy spending my time in a store.

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