News / Science & Technology

E-Commerce Challenges Traditional Stores

E-Commerce Challenges Traditional Storesi
|| 0:00:00
X
December 17, 2012 3:45 PM
U.S. shoppers are spending more than ever on e-commerce, a trend experts say is likely to spread to other nations. Online sales are now as much as one-tenth of U.S. retail sales, prompting traditional “bricks and mortar” stores to seek new ways to hang on to their customers. VOA’s Jim Randle spoke with experts, merchants -- and an avid shopper for this report.
U.S. shoppers are spending more than ever on e-commerce, a trend experts say is likely to spread to other nations.  Online sales are now as much as one-tenth of U.S. retail sales, prompting traditional “bricks and mortar” stores to seek new ways to hang on to their customers. 

Lynne Shaner used the Internet to buy everything she needed for her wedding and holiday gifts for her husband and step daughter.

Other than food, 90 percent of her purchases are made on the computer in her Washington apartment.

"I find that, by being able to go online and choose the things that I need to choose, and have them delivered to me right at my doorstep, I eliminate all the driving, all the crowds, all the noise of that, and I usually get a better selection," Shaner explained.

Shaner has lots of company.  Analysts say U.S. online shopping has hit records in November and December.  Fifty-seven percent of Americans have made at least one online purchase.

Traditional merchants worry that growing e-commerce will shrink their share of the market.  

Cornell University Marketing Professor Ed McLaughlin says they have reason for concern.  He spoke via Skype. “Anything that can move online, will. It is just a matter of time,” he stated.

McLaughlin says traditional stores can keep their customers by offering goods like clothing, which customers may want to see and try on before purchasing  - as well as items that are difficult to ship.  He says some ”bricks and mortar” stores are also pleasing customers with services that set up or repair computers and electronics.  

Traditional stores also offer a social experience that some shoppers enjoy.

Bill Martin, the founder of ShopperTrak, spoke to VOA via Skype. "There is still a lot of emotion in the buying decision that takes place.  Oftentimes, you need that last sense of ‘this is exactly what I want’ before you part with money," he said. "And you can’t always get that on-line.  It’s a rather cold process."  

Traditional stores can also deliver goods more quickly than online retailers, Martin says.  And smart merchants are using stores to guide customers to websites and using their websites to encourage customers to visit their stores.

While e-commerce worries some merchants, it's a huge boost for delivery services like FedEx and UPS.

UPS Manager Dana Kline says e-commerce means her company is even busier than usual this time of year. “We are expecting 28 million pieces on their peak day, which is December 20, which is up about a million from last year," she noted.

UPS is so busy that it's hiring 55,000 temporary workers during the holiday season to deliver gifts.

Those packages are headed for homes, including Lynn Shaner’s. Experts say as more and more people have Internet access and smart phones, online commerce is likely to continue its growth here in the United States and in other countries.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid