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

Pundits Split Over Long-Term US Role in Afghanistan

Security pact remains condition for American presence beyond 2014; deadline criticized More

US Eyes Islamic State Threat

Officials warn that IS could pose a threat to US homeland More

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Moscow says Russian troops crossed into Ukrainian territory by mistake More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocksi
X
George Putic
August 25, 2014 4:00 PM
How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports on how one band is bringing Yiddish tango to Los Angeles.
Video

Video Peace Returns to Ferguson as Community Tries to Heal

Thousands of people nationwide are expected to attend funeral services Monday in the U.S. Midwestern city of St. Louis, Missouri, for Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager who was fatally shot by a white police officer August 9 in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson. The shooting touched off days of violent demonstrations there, resulting in more than 100 arrests. VOA's Chris Simkins reports from Ferguson where the community is trying to move on after weeks of racial tension.
Video

Video Meeting in Minsk May Hinge on Putin Story

The presidents of Russia and Ukraine are expected to meet face-to-face Tuesday in Minsk, along with European leaders, for talks on the situation in Ukraine. Political analysts say the much welcomed dialogue could help bring an end to months of deadly clashes between pro-Russia separatists and Ukrainian forces in the country's southeast. But much depends on the actions of one man, Russian President Vladimir Putin. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Artists Shun Russia's Profanity Law

Russia in July enacted a law threatening fines for publicly displayed profanity in media, films, literature, music and theater. The restriction, the toughest since the Soviet era, aims to protect the Russian language and culture and has been welcomed by those who say cursing is getting out of control. But many artists reject the move as a patronizing and ineffective act of censorship in line with a string of conservative morality laws. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information War

Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.

AppleAndroid