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31 Dec

Local merchants can win onlineOnline shopping is here to stay – that’s absolutely undeniable. Many retailers in local marketplaces are starting to feel the pinch from online retailers based all around the globe, as most nations do not currently enforce sales tax regulations on purchases made from companies based in other parts of the world. This is most notable in larger markets such as the United States and Australia, where retailers have been rather vocal about ‘levelling the playing field’.

Unsurprisingly, however, there hasn’t exactly been a groundswell of support from customers eager to pay more for their purchases. Of course, it makes sense from the retailer’s perspective, but it also shows something of a lack of foresight concerning the nature of what drives online sales – which, traditionally, has been access to a wider range of goods at better prices than can be found locally.

Despite this trend towards wider markets, many consumers have had very negative experiences purchasing overseas, whether in the form of damaged merchandise, astronomically high shipping costs, or simply waiting two months for purchases to actually arrive. This has begun to lead to a change in the online shopping habits of consumers. While price-consciousness is still one of the top consumer habits, speed of delivery is rapidly becoming a sales driver, as evidenced by the success of Amazon’s ‘Next Day Shipping’ guarantee in the United States – although customers must pay extra for this service. While most local merchants aren’t able to compete with Amazon from a global perspective, they have a direct advantage in the local market by leveraging the distribution systems they already have in place.

The next logical extension of this trend towards speed is the convenience factor, which will arrive as greater and greater numbers of local merchants expand and improve their online offerings to cater to consumers who would rather purchase online than visit a store. Instead of waiting a week or two for Amazon to deliver, customers are going to be more inclined to purchase locally for a few dollars more to receive their product more quickly.

Finally, one of the most important rising trends in e-commerce is the mobile market. As mobile devices are perfect for bridging the gap between the online and offline worlds, they are going to become one of the most important tools for local retailers to leverage in their bid to win online market share. Innovative local marketing campaigns based around mobile devices will become huge sales drivers over the coming months – all that remains is for your business to develop a unique mobile offering!

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