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Imagine A Mall Without Any Stores: Will Online Shopping Make Retail Units Obsolete?

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The number of people who shop online is increasing year on year. In 2016, shoppers made 51 percent of purchases online, and this is a trend that has been developing and gathering speed over the course of the last five years. With Internet shopping on the rise, is it unquestionable to think of a mall without any stores? In years to come, will the idea of going shopping with friends or indulging in retail therapy involve gathering around a screen or discussing purchases and swapping photos on an instant messaging group?

The rise of Internet shopping

Research suggests that the popularity of online shopping is growing all the time. There are more sites out there, there’s more choice, and people are increasingly reliant on convenient ways of shopping. While there’s still a strong case for physical stores, especially during peak periods, like the holidays, there’s no getting away from the fact that more people are choosing to use the Internet rather than visiting a store. Trends show that it’s also not just a case of shopping on your favourite store’s website. Online-only shops are also beginning to dominate the market. According to data from the Office for National Statistics in the UK, businesses like Amazon and Asos are building their client base on a daily basis. In 2015, these online-only stores took almost 50 pence out of every pound spent online. This is a significant increase from 41 pence in 2014.

Online shopping is more accessible than ever before, and it’s available 24-hours a day, almost anywhere imaginable. In 2017, 96 percent of Americans shopped online. Although most purchases are still made offline, the gap between the web and physical stores is closing all the time.

What’s so good about online shopping?

Online shopping offers a range of benefits for consumers, especially those who don’t have the time or energy to hit the shops. With an Internet connection, you can browse, choose an item and pay in a matter of seconds. Time is of the essence for many shoppers. Although some enjoy moseying around the stores and trying things on, shopping is not everyone’s idea of fun, and online shopping can make the experience much less stressful and time-consuming. You can order what you want or need at the tap of a button from anywhere you like. You can shop in bed, on the train or while you’re sipping a cool drink on vacation. There are virtually no limits when it comes to online shopping due to advances in connectivity and the widespread availability of wifi networks and 4G. The Internet also makes shopping accessible to everyone. If you struggle to get out and about, you have health issues, or you don’t drive, getting the items you want doesn’t have to be a military operation. You no longer have to worry about getting public transport or asking for lifts. You can shop from the comfort of your own sofa.

Internet shopping is not just advantageous because it saves time and effort. You can also access a much wider range of goods online, and the web can also open you up to new shopping experiences. If you’ve ever used auction sites, for example, you may understand the thrill of winning the contest and securing a product at a bargain price. Online shopping gives you the chance to switch up the way you shop and find out more about different techniques and experiences offered by retailers. The rise in popularity of online shopping has also prompted retailers to work on their USP. There’s a huge amount of competition out there, and this benefits the customer. Companies are building on existing ideas and models to make them better. If you’re looking for an example, check out this article entitled Here’s How DealDash Is Revolutionizing The Online Auction Industry, and take note of the differences between these auctions and traditional pay to enter auctions. As a consumer, competition brings new opportunities and enhanced experiences, which you can’t enjoy when you trawl stores at a mall. There’s also the small matter of money. When you go shopping, it’s not always possible to see how much the items you want cost at different stores. With online shopping, you can compare prices in seconds. This means that it’s easier than ever to get more for your money.

Another advantage of online shopping is the ability to learn about products before you buy. In a store, you’re probably not going to have a load of reviews posted on the shelf below a TV, a laptop or a garden furniture set. If you’re online, you can read independent reviews and customer comments before you make a decision.

Are there any downsides?

Nothing is perfect, and if you surveyed a group of people about their online shopping experiences, there are bounds to be gripes and complaints in there somewhere. Perhaps the most significant difference between Internet shopping and traditional shopping is the inability to enjoy the experience of going into a shop, interacting with assistants, trying the products for size and taking advantage of that personal touch. The online experience is very different. It’s faster, it’s more clinical, and there’s always an element of risk involved. Some stores offer free returns to eliminate anxiety about what happens if a product isn’t suitable, but this isn’t a universal perk. There’s also a chance that you’ll end up receiving something that looks completely different to the product you thought you’d ordered. We’ve all seen hilarious examples of online shopping gone wrong in the papers, but this is the risk you run when you haven’t got a product in front of your very eyes.

flickr/usmarshalls

Although we laud online shopping for its convenience and speed, it can still be a more time-consuming process than going into a shop. If you want something straight away, buying in-store is almost always the best option. Even if same-day delivery is available, this is likely to come at a cost, and you’ll still have to wait hours rather than seconds or minutes.

So what does the future hold for the high street?

If you listen to broadcasts or read the news, it’s not uncommon for high street giants to report losses. The trouble is that it’s hard to ascertain the causes of slow sales. In the UK, some retail magnates are struggling, but is this purely the result of rising online retailers? It’s unlikely that the popularity of online shopping is the sole cause, especially as many of the companies that are hitting the headlines have a strong online presence. There are many factors at work, including political change and uncertainty, and some businesses are going through a period of adjustment to try and cater to new consumer trends.

The key to surviving in any business is being able to adapt to a changing environment. Time brings change, and in this case, retailers who are used to packed shop floors need to adjust to new ways of shopping. Many are stepping up their online game to attract new customers, but it also makes sense to try and make traditional forms of shopping more appealing. The aim is to enhance the experience so that customers enjoy the time they spend in-store. If they have fun, they’re impressed with the service and the shop looks the part, this is going to make them want to return and also encourage them to recommend that store to others. From installing DJs in a trendy clothing store on a Saturday afternoon to providing interactive displays featuring products on sale in a tech store, there’s a lot to be said for actually going into a shop still.

What factors affect your decisions?

When you think about shopping, what factors influence the decisions you make and ultimately, make the difference between shopping online or visiting a store? Do you prefer the personalised experience on offer in a shop or do you enjoy the speed and convenience of shopping from your living room? Sometimes, the type of products you buy makes a difference. You may feel much more comfortable ordering books, games or films online than you would a wedding dress, a state of the art TV or a new pair of shoes, for example. There’s also the question of time. If you’ve got spare time, perhaps you’d like to spend it perusing the shelves. If, on the other hand, you’re in a mad rush, you probably don’t want to contend with traffic, finding a parking space and waiting in line for the fitting room. There’s also the issue of accessibility. If you can walk to a store in five minutes, this is going to save you more time than it would to place an order and then wait for delivery. However, if you don’t drive, you work shifts, or you don’t live near a shopping centre, online shopping is a much more attractive proposition. Everyone is different, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Choose how to shop based on what you need, how much time you have and what kind of experience you’re looking for.

There’s no doubt that the Internet has changed the way we shop. With online shopping on the rise, it may seem likely that retail stores are doomed, but there’s every chance that many will adapt and adjust effectively. We may be fans of online shopping, but don’t write off your favourite high street stores just yet.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Six Tips For New eCommerce Businesses

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eCommerce is a constantly evolving sector, and as a new business, it can feel overwhelming. In this post, we’ll take a look at six of the hottest eCommerce tips to help you get your new eCommerce business up and running. 

Your website is your first impression. 

As a new eCommerce site, customers will have very little knowledge of your brand, and so you have just a fraction of a second to make a good impression. A website that is slow to load, poorly designed, and difficult to use will not build trust and confidence and will lose you sales. Take the time to make sure that you create the best website that you can for your budget and conduct the necessary UX testing to ensure that it is functional. 

Make sure that you’re mobile-friendly.  

The average person spends more than 100 minutes on their mobile phone every day, and so it is essential that your eCommerce site is fully functional on mobile and tablet devices as well as on laptops and desktops. With more and more people now using their phones as personal computers, shopping is becoming increasingly mobile, so having a mobile-friendly site is key. 

Invest in quality stock 

It should go without saying, but quality must always be put above quantity when purchasing or making items to sell in your store. There are a number of different wholesale sites out there, such as Alibaba, Oberlo, and Doba, and they can be a minefield to navigate. Learn how to buy from alibaba.com here. 

Social media will be your best friend.

It is virtually impossible to launch a thriving eCommerce business without a social media presence. Social media gives you a glimpse into the wants and needs of your potential customers and target audiences, but it is also an invaluable free and paid marketing tool. In particular, Instagram is now known as the number one social media platform for eCommerce sites, but for maximum reach, don’t forget to build a presence on other social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok too.

Invest in your images 

Pictures tell a thousand words, and when it comes to eCommerce, they are also processed by your customers much faster. With 60% of people being visual learners, images are invaluable to your business, so do invest in a good photographer and take some professional pictures to ensure that your customers have all the pictures they need to make their decision. 

Use a live-chat

Lastly, as a small eCommerce business, you likely do not have a customer service department, but that doesn’t mean that you can neglect customer interactions. A live-chat feature makes it easy for you to answer customer questions and to speak with customers while they are on your site, just as if they were shopping in a real store. 21% of people who shop online say that live-chat tempts them to buy, 46% of people think that live-chat is the perfect digital communications tool, and 62% of shoppers say that they are more likely to return to a site that has live-chat installed. 

So there you have it – six tips for new eCommerce businesses, did you find them helpful? Why not share your own suggestions in the comments.

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3 Tips For An Easy House Move

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Moving home is so exciting, right? A fresh start, a lovely new place, a new neighbourhood to explore. You feel like a little kid again – those night-before-the-move jitters and arranging all your furniture into a great new space is an unbeatable feeling. However, as we all know, moving can also be expensive and stressful. Especially with lots of furniture, children, pets and a limited amount of time, the task can feel insurmountable. Here are three tips for an easy house move.

1. Hiring Your Own Lorry

Removal companies are great if you have all your own furniture, and no way of transporting it. However if you have a partially furnished let, wherein you’ll have some,but not all of your furnishings already set up in the new property, you could hire your own truck. This will save a lot of money and will ease your move. You can hire the lorry for as long as you need it, and you can have a fun road trip all of your own!

Ensure that when you hire or buy your own lorry, you look into lorry insurance and invest in proper precautions. 

2. Asking For Help With Child And Pet Care

If you are moving with young children, dogs or cats, the move can become infinitely more complicated and difficult. If you have close friends or family who can take care of your children or pets for you, this would help your move immensely. Having to take care of small children whilst lifting heavy boxes and organising a million things at once can be a big challenge, and can even lead to accidents. Children can be overwhelmed by moving house, so it is much better to have them come to your new home when you have had a chance to organise the space and make it feel like home.

Similarly, dogs and cats can become stressed by a change in location. If the place is in disarray, the animals can become even more frightened and restless. It is better to have a friend, family or professional pet care company take care of them whilst your house move is taking place.

3. Time Off Work

Although it can feel wasteful to take holiday from work just to move house, you’ll thank yourself later for taking the time. Moving into a new house might only take one day, but the unpacking, organising and cleaning process can take far longer. If you take a few days, or even a week, to complete your move, you can return to work with a fresh slate, knowing you’ll be coming back to an organised, calm home!

Plus, this way you can actually enjoy your move, rather than treating it as a stressful nightmare! You can make the most of the new space, experiment with the layout, and truly transform this house into a home which you will be enjoying for years to come.

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3 Issues Repair Workers Are Facing During The Corona Pandemic

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It’s fair to say that the whole economy and multiple industries have taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic. Lockdown forced many companies to close their doors while others were forced into administration. At the same time, numerous businesses have also struggled with how to restart their respective models and get things firing on all cylinders once more. However some companies have been hit harder than others. 

Maintenance and repair workers such as plumbers and electricians are facing significant difficulties right now. Here are some of the issues that they are dealing with and the potential solutions. 

Social Distancing 

One of the greatest issues right now is that it seems social distancing is key to preventing the spread of the virus. Ultimately, this means that people are wary about being around others and potentially letting individuals into their homes. That’s a definite problem for repair workers who often require access to complete their jobs. Now, you might assume that people will call repair workers out regardless because it’s an emergency. However, a lot of time a repair doesn’t seem like an emergency and people will put it off for as long as possible. 

The challenge here is convincing customers and clients that safety can be maintained in this type of situation. More often than not, this is about ensuring that PPE is used and readily available for workers. Businesses also need to be clear about the things they are doing to keep everyone safe. 

Getting Supplies

We have seen numerous factories and businesses forced to close due to coronavirus outbreaks. The issue here is that this leaves a lot of companies unable to get the products that they need. It can cause businesses to grind to a halt, particularly plumbers and electricians that often require access to spare parts. 

Luckily, key parts such as a 3 way ball valve can still be found online and at reasonable prices. But, repair companies may still need to expand their search and look to companies that they haven’t used before to ensure that they have the parts they need. 

Financial Losses

It’s like that repair companies and maintenance workers, particularly freelancers, have sustained substantial losses over the past few months. While there has been government support to help mitigate the damage, this may not have been enough. Companies will also need to consider how they can protect their model from future damage. This does mean that they need to think about insurance options. There is insurance coverage that could potentially help if there is a dreaded second wave or a new outbreak. By getting the insurance in place now, companies like this will be able to keep their business afloat and the lights on. It could also help if the coronavirus pandemic does cause a massive economic disaster as many analysts seem to fear. 

We hope this helps you understand the challenges that these workers and businesses are facing. It’s like that many will bounce back eventually but there could definitely be some rough roads ahead before things are able to snap back into place.

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