What do you buy online these days?
I recall when the internet first really took off we had the dot com bubble. At that time I correctly predicted (don’t worry, I don’t consider myself to be some kind of guru) that it wouldn’t last. Some of the businesses that rose and fell were simply stupid ideas.
Fast forward 15 years and the internet has finally arrived for selling. I know from my own habits that I do more and more stuff online.
Banking? Well that’s a no brainer. For the most part I don’t really set foot inside a bank branch. The convenience is just too great. Bill paying and business transactions are obvious choices to do online. In the days before the internet, people who are old enough will remember queueing up at the gas company and the electricity company to pay their bills. You can’t beat the time saving you get not having to do that.
Bookings. If you’re booking accommodation, it’s to the net you go. Not just because of the speed and ease of getting things done, but because of the deals you can get; everything is on sale on the internet. You go to one of the booking sites, where hotels compete against each other and get some really good deals.
Travel. Obviously travel lends itself perfectly to the internet model. Once again, internet travel sites play one service provider off against the other to get the best price for the consumer.
Buying and selling second hand goods from classifieds. Does anybody look in the actual physical paper any more? I haven’t looked at a newspaper when it comes to buying and selling things like cars for perhaps 15 years.
Coupon sites. If I’m going out for dinner, the first thing I’m doing is looking to see some of the great deals you can get for dining from a coupon website. Why not get a deal where you can get a meal and wine at half the usual cost?
All of these examples are great, but they emphasise the transactional nature of the internet. What about physical products delivered to your door? For a while I have been sceptical about this. Some things people want to see and feel in their hands before they make the purchase.
I am still skeptical for some products, such as clothes. I can’t see bricks and mortar clothes stores vanishing in favour of online stores anytime soon. Why? Because clothes can look great in photos but not so good in the flesh. I know, having purchased clothes online that looked a lot better on the website than they did when I received them.
However, what I have been buying online lately is wine. This is a product that if you can get the right deal, you can make substantial savings. But what about shipping? Well to be honest, 9 dollars shipping for a dozen wine to be delivered to your doorstep? With the alternative being the time and petrol taken to get to the local bottle shop? If you balk at the price of shipping for such things, you’re not looking at the big picture.
So that is my opinion of the state of online selling. Why don’t you look at your business and see if it’s time you participated in the online market place.