Shopping has been an inevitable part of consumer buying behavior. Majority of our free time is spent on activities where we buy things for consumption or for basic use. Most of the time, shopping is used as a stress relieving activity for others. Not only for personal gain, shopping is beneficial in driving the life of the economy by keeping the business alive. As part of consumer buying behavior, shopping has first been an activity involving the actual presence of both the buyer and the seller. Shopping has developed as a way of trading materials and goods in ancient times. Not only in terms of food, but also with material goods for adornment, tools and weaponry. With the advent of technology, shopping has evolved into many forms. From the traditional face-to-face interaction, it has taken form to mal-order shopping. And now with the effect of the internet, shopping has taken a new form in on-line shopping.
With traditional shopping, buyer is physically present in the area or vicinity of the actual market, shop, mall or boutique. Travel and commute is necessary in order to complete the shopping process in the traditional way. Sometimes, a specific area specializes in a particular goods and shoppers need to travel from one place to another in order to complete his buying list for different products. But even with this disadvantage, some market areas manage to introduce the concept of total buying experience. This business establishment not only focused on consumer goods but also on the visual merchandising. Shops are supplemented with interior design that entices consumers to buy things. Visual collateral and paraphernalia are also used to project the brand’s image which also helps consumers to associate themselves with the product. Being in the actual location means experiencing the over-all look in terms of play on depth and space. Smell can also be used to entice customers to buy products. For example, most people are drawn to the natural aroma of food. This further convinces them to want a particular product. Tactile qualities are also involved in tradition shopping. Customers can have an actual feel of the product by touching or wearing them first. Customers can try on clothes inside the boutique to evaluate its fit, style and over-all appearance. This gives an over-all buying experience that satisfies all sensory requirements. The process is completed when the buyer hands out his money or credit to the cashier and the actual product or goods are handed out with shopping bags. The name of the shopping may bring a sense of self-esteem to the buyer as he strolls away from the shop. The whole process may take a while for someone who values time more. But for others, shopping is all about this whole experience.
Just like when Amazon.com founder introduced the concept of shopping while staying inside your house, the whole shopping experience evolved to a digital interface. It also introduced new features that lacks in traditional shopping like product reviews, personalized offers and an easy one-click checkout process (Thomson, 2012). The purpose of this on-line shopping is to reduce the whole buying experience in terms of time and effort. Travel and commute are taken out of the equation and has been replaced by the efficiency and speed of internet connection. In other terms, convenience has been the main offering of on-line shopping. One can easily compare prices and products from different on-line stores without devoting too much time looking for them in actual physical stores. The presence of sales staff is gone and replaced with product reviews and product information that is concise but thorough. Visually, on-line marketers have managed to create an appealing lay-out for the buyers that is attractive and easy-to-the-eyes. These on-line marketer also recognized the investment that has to be made in terms of technology. In replacement of the investment made in traditional shopping for building infrastructure, on-line marketers are likewise required to have their investment. In this case, it is through the development of interfaces and website setting where most of the investment is out into. However, other sensory satisfaction is left out. Especially with the physical contact with the actual product. Clothes are no longer checked for actual fitting but instead for sizing has been standardized, consumers can determine their size through the size chart provided with the product. Some on-retailers also use models to depict how the clothes look when worn. Each product is presented in the best way possible in order to ensure quality and high commercial appeal. In other times, the product is further enhanced using editing programs to correct any imperfections that could arise from studio photo-shoot. Recently, physical stores have closed slowly in competition with on-line retailers. And it looks like physical stores may have served its time (Vannier, 2013). With the ease of contact and door-to-door delivery, consumers are gearing towards the convenience of online shopping.
The future of retail may succeed in being converted into a digital format. And with the recent result from sales decline of physical retailers, most of this can be attributed to the increased popularity of on-line retailers. Most companies with physical stores may divert their channel to a digital form. It requires less investment and expense and sales results would be the same or even higher since the internet is an accessible tool for everyone.
Thomson, R. (2012). How Amazon changed retailing. Retail-week.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014, from http://www.retail-week.com/technology/how-amazon-changed-retailing/5037276.article
Vannier, P. (2013). How the Internet is Affecting Retail - Permanently. Insights.wired.com. Retrieved 18 May 2014, from http://insights.wired.com/profiles/blogs/how-the-internet-is-affecting-retail-permanently#axzz322341fUa