Prices can be updated in real time according to the type of customer or current market conditions.
Levels of consumer demand for online shopping and services might ultimately determine the size of e-retail markets and when or if a market saturation point will be reached. Currently, influences such as, whether the consumer has access to the Internet, levels of competency in use of the technology and the perceived benefits of Internet shopping are key factors likely to impact on the success and development of e-retailing (Ballantine, 2005). Internet retailing, or e-retailing as it will be referred to for the rest of this chapter, offers the consumer an experience that is very different from shopping in the high street, for example comparison shopping is much easier and quicker online than in the physical world (Cude and Morganosky, 2000). An example of a business that facilitates comparison of product and prices is Kelkoo.co.uk. Indeed, in the USA, consumers use the Internet to find information about a product in the early part of the buying decision-making process as well as buying directly on the web. They are purchasing through the fixed-location store or ordering by telephone or fax less than they used to (see Mini Case Study 10.5, The offline impact of online marketing). Other notable differences between on- and offline shopping are: dynamic pricing, which is often linked directly to demand, interactive promotions and web-stores, which are always open.
As a result of the characteristics of the virtual shopping environment, the online consumer experience can become an elective and very goal-orientated activity whereby online consumers go to the Internet to seek particular information about the products and services they wish to buy. Perea et al. (2004) highlight that whilst increasingly consumers are shopping online it is not clear what drives them to shop in this way. They suggest there are various factors including ease of use, enjoyment and consumer traits, that will determine whether an individual will be an avid Internet shopper. So who are the customers who shop online?
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