Online shopping gears up for Christmas

For almost 10 years now the internet has been going to ‘kill’ traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers. The story goes that new, purely online retail brands will set up and they will take away all of the ‘pain’ of going shopping and we will never again have to leave our homes.

This is obviously the extreme view of the shopping world from a male who doesn’t get a buzz from shopping for tools, motorcycle parts, camping gear, golf gear, BBQ’s or buying their partner/kids/grandkids’ presents at birthdays/Christmas/Eid/Diwali/Rosh Hashan. Quite possibly, this is a male business journalist. Now that I have removed myself from the quote list of 75% of Australia’s business pages I’ll continue.

The rest of the planet, male and female, does enjoy shopping in all of its different forms including, but not limited to, online. My own personal inbox is full of email offers from Lasoo and a good selection of retailers who have given me the option of buying stuff from them that is available in their stores and online.

Most charge me a normal and acceptable level of shipping and some have even begun to waive that shipping fee, most notably Walmart in the US. Walmart has, with arguably the best and lowest cost logistics systems in the world, decided that the cost of the product passing through the checkouts in its stores is about the same as shipping it short distances to your home from its store network.

Importantly my inbox has about a 70/30 split of Australian and overseas offers – 70% of my purchases online are through stores that I like in Oz. These stores allow me to buy things I already know and like, when I am time poor. They allow me to buy gifts for my friends and family from stores that they like but I may only visit occasionally.

The 30% I buy from overseas sites are for things I can’t purchase here such as Gap and Banana Republic. The balance are things that are unfathomably more expensive in Australia than in their home market – hence my 10 year online purchasing of Harley parts and Levi 501s from overseas. By the way, a word for Harley and Levis; it doesn’t have to be this way, but I’ll get to that in another blog.

So to Christmas 2010. This will undoubtedly be the year when we hit the tipping point and substantial amounts of product are purchased online and delivered to our doors. Not an incremental growth on last year or the year before, but a truly significant step change in volume. The retailers who offer that choice will have created happy shoppers who will buy just as much through their stores as they did last year. They are also likely to buy last minute gifts via the online store and have it delivered to their homes or direct to their loved ones’ homes.

If you’re a little sceptical of the magnitude of this change, watch for Nordstrom’s sales results in mid-January. Then look at its Christmas trading results during the first quarter of 2011.

In his role as CEO of CROSSMARK, Kevin Moore looks at the world of retailing from grocery to pharmacy, bottle shops to car dealers, corner store to department stores. In this insightful blog, Kevin covers retail news, ideas, companies and emerging opportunities in Australia, NZ, the US and Europe. His international career in sales and marketing has seen him responsible for business in over 40 countries, which has earned him grey hair and a wealth of expertise in international retailers and brands. CROSSMARK Asia Pacific is Australasia’s largest provider of retail marketing services, consulting to and servicing some of Australasia’s biggest retailers and manufacturers.

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