Online is definitely the new offline this Christmas

By Jonathan Ross

Recently John Lewis reported a massive boom in online activity – saying that its e-commerce activity had received a 31% boost year-on-year. It’s just another statistic that proves the power of the Internet for the retail industry.

According to recent statistics by IMRG and Capgemini, each household in the UK was set to spend an estimated £670 online in the last two months of 2012 – up 15% from the £580 average of last year.

As consumers we have taken to online shopping like ducks to water. Could this have been a movement predicted ten years ago? Did we realise that we’d become a nation of shoppers happy to order without so much as touching a product first?

I think part of the answer to this question comes in the fact that shopping online has become so – for want of a more exciting word – convenient. Think back to how websites looked in the late nineties – dull, boring, text heavy and full of irritating flash banners.

Would you have confidently handed your bank details to one of these sites back then? Probably not. But nowadays we’re presented with sites that are as sleek as they are efficient.

Part of the reason for this efficiency boils down to the fact that we, as consumers, have been online for so long now that websites ‘know’ what we want. This is something that just couldn’t have been the case ten years ago. But how does this ‘knowledge’ actually come about? It’s not magic, and yet so many consumers who are asked how the likes of Amazon just ‘get it right’ probably put it down to such.

The technology that drives us to a sale online nowadays is not so different to the clever merchandising that drives us to an impulse purchase in-store. Yet I am inclined to wonder whether that 31% sales increase online that John Lewis reports is at the hands of in store footfall, or in spite of it? It’s actually no doubt that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. What we’re all waiting to discover though, is whether online shopping will completely outstrip shopping on the high street. If intelligent technology can offer us the opportunity to purchase so intuitively – will we one day even need to make the effort to visit the high street anymore?

About the author

Jonathan Ross is business development director at FACT-Finder. Based in Pforzheim, Paris and London, FACT-Finder’s clients include Harvey Nichols, Kurt Geiger and Swarovski.

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