Convenience Drives Internet Retail Channel Growth

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Feb 21, 2002
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Shopping on the Internet is experiencing rapid growth due to a combination of factors led by the convenience that online shopping offers consumers who seek to simplify their day-to-day shopping lifestyles, according to a national study, “How America Shops(tm) 2002, The Overstuffed Consumer,” conducted by WSL Strategic Retail. “Even before September 11, we saw consumers losing the urge to buy and looking for ways to simplify their shopping lives,” says Wendy Liebmann, president, WSL Strategic Retail. Unless retailers offer innovative products in attractive, convenient and entertaining venues, they find themselves in a precarious position, a situation that provides opportunities for new channels like the Internet, according to Liebmann. And, as convenience becomes increasingly important to consumers who are streamlining their shopping habits to include fewer weekly shopping trips, retailers like supermarkets, mass retailers and drugstores find themselves in increasing jeopardy.

Importantly, the Internet is no longer only about younger shoppers. Equal percentages of 18 to 34 year olds (29 percent) and 35 to 54 year olds (27 percent) shop on the Internet. But it is still a higher-income shoppers’ channel (41 percent with incomes over $70k vs. 26 percent or less with incomes under $70k).

Moderator Comment: How do consumers define convenience?

There is a line from Neil Simon’s Same Time Next Year that, if recollection serves, goes, “I have a life, not a lifestyle.” Truer words have never been spoken on-stage or off.

For most of us today, we are too busy living our lives (AKA managing time) to worry about the style of our lives are taking. You probably have seen reports that talk about how much time employees spend online for personal reasons while at work. There is a lot of concern over that issue (especially from companies that produce security software that tracks what employees do on their PCs).

The flip side to that is that many, if not most, of these employees are also taking work home with them. Jack Welch, former head honcho at GE, became convinced that his company should focus heavily on the Internet when he realized that his son-in-law was returning emails and conducting business when he was over for a social visit.

Today, we have deadlines for work and for our personal life. The key is managing the time available to meet those deadlines. The barriers between work and personal time are disappearing. We see our lives on holistic terms and terms such as convenience are being redefined in the process. [George
Anderson – Moderator
]

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