What you should know about the changing consumer environment
It should come as no surprise to most of us that the internet is quickly becoming our primary resource for information. Over the past few years we’ve become increasingly accustomed to turning to our computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices to interact with the world around us. When we want to know something, almost instinctively we go to the internet to look it up. This includes making our purchases or just informing ourselves about the purchases we plan to make and the activities we plan to do. Bringing your products, services and other information to the web, making it easy to get, and making connections with your customers is no longer a marginal advantage, it’s an absolute requirement.
“If you aren’t as visible on the internet as your competitors, it’s much more likely that consumers will choose to spend their time and money with them rather than you. “
Ecommerce is here to stay and growing at an amazing rate. From the first quarter of 2005 to the fourth quarter of 2014 ecommerce sales as a percentage of total US retail sales grew from 2.4% to 6.7% 1. At that rate the percentage of all US retail sales that will happen online by 2020 will be nearly 11%. That may not sound like a lot at first glance, but it is nearly double the current percentage and remember; that includes ALL US retail sales. Automobiles, gasoline, food service, entertainment, and any number of things that would not be bought online is included in the retail sales number. But you can bet consumers are looking online to decide where they can buy those things.
Not only are we using the web to purchase, we’re using it even more often to inform ourselves and shop before we make a purchase. It is estimated that by 2017 60% of all US retail sales will involve the internet in some capacity 2. That could be research and price comparisons online, locating the product or service, reading reviews, asking questions, searching for special offers, looking for a place to go on a Saturday night, or anything that directly or indirectly informs a retail purchase. There is a definite sea-change in the way we are interacting with the world and this includes how we choose where to spend our time and money. If you aren’t as visible on the internet as your competitors, it’s much more likely that consumers will choose to spend their time and money with them rather than you. It’s not necessarily because your competitors have a better quality product, or a more inviting atmosphere, or even a better price; it’s because you didn’t make it easy enough for them to see what you had to offer.
“Visibility and transparency is key to success in this new data-driven consumer environment.”
Visibility and transparency is key to success in this new data-driven consumer environment. You need to take your data; your event listings, your business listings, contact information, special offers, location information, and everything else that tells everyone who you are, what you offer and why they should interact with you and make sure it is distributed to all of those places online where people look for that information. Data aggregators and search engines like Google, Yelp, Eventful, Eventbrite, or any number of other and more local sources are the new consumer marketing platforms. What’s most exciting about this is, you can reach a massive number of potential customers for very little investment and you can reach them at that moment when they are already looking for you or what you provide!
Get your information organized and get it where people are looking for it.
- 1 US census bureau news: https://www.census.gov/retail/mrts/www/data/pdf/ec_current.pdf
- 2 Forrester Research Inc. “U.S. Cross-Channel Retail Forecast, 2012 To 2017.”