A while back, Nellie Lide of the McGinn Group, sent me a link to her article outlining 2006 shopping trends on the New Persuasion blog. She noted, “When I wrote this over the weekend I thought of you and how many times you’ve given me awesome information — you might like this post.”
Well, of course, we did like the post. We are always drawn to trends articles that impact small businesses.
Nellie also does an exhaustive job listing various websites and research reports to back up her trends list.
Here is the list of 2006 shopping trends, along with my thoughts about their significance for small businesses:
- Trend #1: Online Shopping is taking off. If you are selling something, you better sell it online
Depending on which source you use, online shopping grew between 24% and 33% over 2004 numbers.
Yesterday on the Small Business Trends Radio program, my interview guest made a point that bears repeating. Charles Jolley, the CEO of Sproutit.com, said (I paraphrase his words): “Consumer online behavior has changed. Consumers are much more willing to transact business online. Even if you tried to do business online 4 or 5 years ago and it did not work, try again now. Attitudes have changed, and while your business model may have been ahead of its time a few years ago, now the time is right.” I think that pretty much sums up why you should be selling online today.
- Trend #2: Transparency – Be Open – List your product and prices upfront – or someone else will do it for you.
Nellie points to the growth in comparison shopping sites, and also the growth in vertical shopping search engines. Her blog post has an extremely thorough list of sites.
And I think she is right that people can and will find out competitive prices online. The Internet makes comparison shopping so much easier today, compared with the past when you had to telephone around or visit brick-and-mortar stores.
This means that vendors and retailers need to be artful at selling based on value and customer service, and not price alone. Branding becomes much more important. Word of mouth recommendations are also crucial.
- Trend #3: Consumers increasingly trust and turn to other consumers to find out the truth about products and services
Here she points out how many sites now offer the ability for consumers to post product reviews or rate items. Even eBay now touts these peer reviews on its home page.
I would add this thought: with some of the free or low cost scripts available on the Web today, even small etailers can add a consumer review component to their sites.
- Trend #4: Shopping is an Experience, it’s a Lifestyle, it’s Entertainment, it’s News
It’s no longer just about buying something. Shopping has to be fun and an experience to remember. Now we have television shopping, blogs about shopping, magazines about shopping.
Small businesses should be thinking about how to add an experience component to their sales. Make it fun, make it interesting, make it memorable.
- Trend #5: Shopping for a Better World – Go Green
Nellie lists citations to sources about shopping for environmentally friendly products, and sustainable lifestyles.
While I agree with this in concept, and there does appear to be interest by some percentage of the population in green shopping, call me cynical, but I suspect the majority will pay lip service but not much else to the concept of shopping green.
To read the full text of Shopping Trends, visit the New Persuasion blog.