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12/17/13

Spot Online: No surprises as online shopping gains serious momentum versus traditional buying

Long lines, crowded stores and hours upon hours hopping from one retail store to another has shifted the balance of buying power to the convenience of shopping online from the comfort of your own home.
It's hard to pinpoint the exact moment when buying online usurped the traditional means of shopping and gift buying, but the change in buying culture certainly isn't a surprising one when you consider the tangible and intangible aspects.
Online retailer heavyweights such as eBay and Amazon reported sales increases at 35% and 25%, respectively, through "Black Friday" this year in comparison to last year, according to a recent USA Today report. In comparison, in store shopping figures were strong but relatively flat in comparison to 2012, with retailers even suggesting that the typical pushing, shoving and mass hysteria associated with "Black Friday" seemed much less frantic.
That would suggest consumers have traded in their squeaky shopping carts, early morning shopping wake up calls and "door busters" for the simple art of sitting on your couch, turning on your computer and finishing your holiday shopping without so much as breaking a sweat, unless of course you wait too long to make a purchase.
The deadline for buying online and receiving your gifts in time for the holidays is December 18 as the bevy off online retailers work intently to ensure you receive what you ordered in a timely fashion. Based on the increase in sales revenue for online shopping versus conventional shopping, consumers aren't at all concerned about the idea of having products shipped to them without actually seeing them personally. A lot of that peace of mind comes from return policies littered with verbiage and rhetoric that suggests exchanges or getting your money back will be a breeze.

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The topical benefits of shopping online stand out as the main reasons why it has rose to prominence in recent years. Battling traffic and your fellow customers certainly makes for an easy decision when it comes to choosing your shopping medium. Beyond the obvious, online shopping opens up a wealth of not only comparable savings and discounts but also an aspect of information, education, assurance and satisfaction that might be missing from your in person store excursion.
Take a peak at Amazon and how they've cultivated a consumer atmosphere and experience that offers everything from product reviews, ratings and pictures that are equal parts contributions from fellow consumers and experts who have used and approved those products. Even the idea of finding a product by simply searching a web site sounds more appealing than wandering aimlessly through the store for the exact make, model or brand you want.
More important, you have access to all of that without waiting in one single line or touching elbows with one single soul. This isn't to suggest retail store associates aren't capable of answering questions, but they're sole job isn't so much troubleshooting as it is handling the incredible crowds and thus acting more as usher rather than expert.
Even larger retailers that boast big box stores and online shopping forums have leaned toward the latter and started pushing customers in that direction in an attempt to showcase a customer first mentality to keep with the times.
Furthermore, when was the last time you approached a fellow consumer and asked them for a product review or opinion on a specific item? That doesn't seem like an appropriate topic if the two of you are playing tug of war with a discounted flat screen TV.
The safer bet is securing exactly what is carefully detailed and listed on your wish list without ever leaving the house.
That mindset is truly the definition of buying power.

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