Summary

1 This chapter has focused on online consumers and e-retailers and in doing so has introduced some of the key issues that might eventually affect the overall success of e-retail markets.

2 Online customer expectations are being raised as they become more familiar with Internet and other digital technologies and as a result companies are being forced to adopt a more planned approach towards e-retailing. Additionally, in doing e-retail managers are considering who their customers are, how and where they access the Internet and the benefits they are seeking.

3 Web sites that do not deliver value to the online customer are unlikely to succeed. E-retailers need to develop a sound understanding of who their customers are and how best to deliver satisfaction via the Internet. Over time, retailers may begin to develop more strategically focused web sites.

4 Given current levels of growth in adoption from both consumers and retailers it is reasonable to suggest the Internet is now a well-established retail channel that provides an innovative and interactive medium for communications and transactions between e-retail businesses and online consumers.

5 The web presents opportunities for companies to adopt different retail formats to satisfy their customer needs which may include a mix of Internet and physical-world offerings. Furthermore, bricks-and-mortar retailers and pureplay retailers use the Internet in various ways and combinations including sales, ordering and payment, information provision and market research.

6 Web sites focusing on the consumer vary in their function. Some offer a whole suite of interactive services whereas others just provide information. The logistical problems associated with trading online are limiting the product assortment some retailers offer.

7 Trading via the Internet challenges e-retailers to pay close attention to the online markets they are wishing to serve and to understand there are differences between the on- and offline customer experiences.

8 The virtual environment created by the Internet and associated technologies is a growing trading platform for retailing. This arena is increasing both in terms of the number of retail businesses that are online and the extent to which the Internet is being integrated into almost every aspect of retailing. As a result retailers must choose how they can best employ the Internet in order to serve their customers rather than whether to adopt the Internet at all.

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