Shoppers Turning Away From The Web

June 17, 2007

Happy Father’s Day, Dad! So what did the family give you as a gift- a day of leisure, or maybe some cool gadget?

If it was the latter, they probably went to a store to pick it up, instead of shopping online. The New York Times tells us today that the growth of Web commerce is beginning to max out, an argument supported by statistics, and the fact that retailers like Dell Computer, who built their businesses online, are beginning to move into retail stores.

onlineshopper.gifNancy F. Koehn, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies retailing and consumer habits, said that the leveling off of e-commerce reflected the practical and psychological limitations of shopping online. She said that as physical stores have made the in-person buying experience more pleasurable, online stores have continued to give shoppers a blasé experience. In addition, online shopping, because it involves a computer, feels like work.

“It’s not like you go onto Amazon and think: ‘I’m a little depressed. I’ll go onto this site and get transported,’ ” she said, noting that online shopping is more a chore than an escape.

NY Times: Web-Weary Shoppers

How to draw more people online, or into physical stores? In both cases, the experts say, make it more fun, provide good service, and stop charging so much for shipping.

The sales taxes commerce sites add to our bills, we’ve noticed, are also a factor. Even though we’re supposed to ‘fess up and pay up at income tax time, a lot of people just don’t.

Many hunt for out-of-state online retailers that charge no sales tax, like, say L.L. Bean. In Bean’s case, you may know, that advantage for New Yorkers is soon to go away, as L.L.’s descendants prepare to open an Albany-area version of Maine’s famous clothing, camping and hiking store.