Undoubtedly, Internet usage has not only played a major role in boosting businesses but has also contributed in other areas of the society. Many businesses have established channels with which to tap the significance of the Internet since trade is enhanced through advertisement and creating awareness to the retailer. In Verity (1994), he describes Internet as “hotbed of advertising and commercial activity”. Many businesses have resolved to use Internet in their shopping mall however the market is not well developed. Resnick (1995) says that “despite all the cybermalls and storefronts popping out on the web these days very few businesses are making big money selling goods and services on the Internet” (p. 24).
Furthermore, it has become possible to make money on the Internet without selling of the product. Therefore this paper seeks to describe cybermalls (Internet businesses) and examine some of the challenges that are encountered in shopping from the Internet and consequently provide the solution to the problem of Internet retail marketing. It also goes further to analyze the relevance of Internet retail marketing and how it might be useful to the retailer and consumer in this 21st century.
Internet businesses are described as web sites which offer stores to the business online, render services and provide guide to information. The retailer usually rent the web page and advertises the business using text, video and images (Rowley, 1996).
One of the challenges that the retailers face in Internet business is the location of the business. It has proved to be a problem to locate the businesses on the Internet since one need to know the exact location of the business and also one need to have adequate knowledge in using the search tools (Rowley, 1996).
Security has been cited as a major challenge about the Internet businesses. This is so because the Internet business involves exchange of money with the product and any insecurity might result in the loss of property. It is even a bigger risk since the orders are received online therefore it is difficult to distinguish the genuine traders from the fake traders (Rowley, 1996).
Consumers have found it difficult to compare the services of the various Internet businesses. An individual is compelled to use a lot of time in searching since it is not possible to browse all the Internet businesses. As a result, performing an elaborate comparison of the shop is difficult. Besides, it has been reported that many Internet businesses are reluctant to compete on price (Resnick, 1995).
Another major challenge on Internet business is the customer profile. Even though the number of Internet users is large, only a few are willing and able to buy from the Internet business. For instance, Resnick (1995) highlights the performance of PC Gifts and Flowers. Even though its websites receives 25000-30000 “hits”, only 200 orders per month are actually made.
The last challenge that the Internet business is facing is the customer shopping experience. It becomes difficult for the consumer to rely on Internet business since they are used to other conventional method of shopping. Therefore many shoppers will shy away from purchasing from the Internet businesses. However in some cases shopping from the Internet can be interesting compared to the normal ways of shopping (Rowley, 1996).
One of the lasting solutions to these challenges is conducting the seminar for both the retailer and the consumers. This will help in creating understanding about the use of Internet retail marketing. The retailer and the consumer will therefore have adequate knowledge in dealing with the transactions which are carried through online.
Training and coaching the retailer and the consumer about the Internet market will provide sufficient knowledge to deal with the problem that may be encountered during the shopping process.
Retailing has evolved over the years and stiff competition among the businesses have been witnessed therefore there is importance of marketing the product and service that the business offer for sale. Since the consumer is independent to choose the service of the business, it has compelled many retailers to use promotions, advertisement and improve on brand so that the consumer are attracted and retained in the business. Consequently, many retailers have resolved in using Internet to market their business to the consumer (Adamic & Bernardo, 2000).
Shopping on the Internet has the ability of positively transforming the market place. This is especially true because it becomes easier for new retailer to enter the market place since the cost is relatively low compared to the open air market. Some of the advantages on Internet retailing are; extensive coverage of the advertising, unnecessary costs are eliminated, small businesses have ability to expand, interaction between the retailer and consumer is prompt and the information about the business is updated to the current standard (Albert, Hawoong & Albert-László, 1999).
To add on, Internet retailing has the ability to change the nature of some products. For instance, Grimes (1995) examines Internet as the potential solution in food service sector. He examines the future where customers will be provided with an opportunity to order their meals through online. This will be of more help to both the retailer and the consumer in that the retailer will not only ship long distance whole meal but will also provide different options to the consumer. On the contrary, the consumer will benefit since he will have vast information about the food service.
Competition with other established businesses is enhanced through Internet marketing. The small business will obviously face stiff competition from large company but with establishment of the Internet, this threat is likely to be minimized. The Internet business is likely to be exposed to the entire world and therefore there is diverse number of customer.
Besides, there are various options which can be used to market the business through the Internet. One can decide to use search engine optimization, social marketing sites, local search optimization, local search submissions, link popularity submissions, etc (Bruce, 2006).
Communication in the business is improved by use of the Internet. Communication is enhanced since other forms of communication like use of fax machine or postal deliveries are a bit expensive and time consuming respectively compared to the use of the email. Email is the cheapest way to communicate in the business and also it is faster.
An effective sales support can be provided by the use of the Internet on the business. Salesperson can solve the consumer problem through the use of the email. By contacting the appropriate person in the organization, the salesperson can obtain the necessary help for the consumer which he will then communicate promptly to the consumer (Beatty, Hsim & Mary, 2001).
Customer service has been enhanced through the use of the Internet in businesses. Customer complains can be forwarded to the retailer through the email or alternatively through posting service on online. Frequently asked question is designed to suit the probable complain of the consumer which is then dealt with according to the desires of the customer (Griffith & Gray, 2002).
Internet commerce assists in creating new opportunity to the business. Establishing Internet business helps in creating many opportunity to the business since new relationship with potential consumer, business associates and the product manufacturer is achieved. It is easier to find online location which is accessible to the users and therefore the business becomes readily available to the opportunities that may come on its way. Information about your existence will be known to the potential customer, possible supplier will request you purchase their items while other business venture will seek partnership with the business (Chan & Lin, 2007).
Internet marketing also creates awareness of the product. There is increase in awareness of the product or brand since the Internet is utilized by millions of consumer and there is a high chance of the product being noticed in the Internet. This helps in the establishment of new market since the business profile will be noted by many people across the globe. Since the online business operates all the time in a location which is easy to access, the product and the brand name of the online business will be promoted (Jutla, Bodorik & Dhaliwal, 2002).
There is unlimited time in operating of Internet business since the consumers can access the services in any time they feel like shopping from the online business. Beside, the costs for operating online business in 24/7 are minimal compared to those of a physical store.
Internet business establishes loyalty of the customer. This is enhanced by the way the business presents its product for sale since the products are described in a unique, interactive and informative way. The customers will tend to become more loyal to the business since satisfaction is guaranteed in the online business. More customers will talk about your business and suddenly the business will receive more customers (Bruce, 2006).
There is a tendency to increase business sale in the Internet marketing since more people will be aware about the business and consequently they will become the potential buyers. As a result, the business will make large profits due to large sales.
There is also the potential to increase the profit in the business. As the sales in the business increase due to more customers purchasing, the profit margin is also expected to increase. Therefore with the expenses of Internet business being minimal, the business will be viable (Jutla, Bodorik & Dhaliwal, 2002).
The online business has a tendency of reducing unnecessary costs. This is so because an online business does not require a physical address. To add on, the number of employee in Internet business is minimal which reduces the expenses on the salary. The expenses such as the telephone bills, leasehold, and utility costs are minimized in the Internet business (Bruce, 2006).
The Internet business is entitled to geographical expansion since there are no limitations to the business on where it should operate. This has got an upper hand over the physical businesses since the latter are located in a defined territory while the former has unlimited location. This makes the business to be in constant touch with the consumers from all walks of life hence giving it more opportunities to prosper (Murphy,Celuch, & K Callaway, 2007).
In Internet retail marketing, a smaller market can also be targeted since the retailer has much control over the targeted group. Therefore, a group of women, men and smaller niche market can be targeted in the Internet business. This is important because it ensures fairness and equality when serving the consumers online and it eliminates discrimination (Griffith & Gray, 2002).
Delivery of information is made easier in the Internet businesses. The consumers have a direct access to information about the product and service, company information, promotions and much more regarding the Internet business.
Enhanced advertisement on the Internet business is guaranteed. This is because more consumers using the Internet will be informed about the business and there is like hood of the sales to increase as a result of frequent order and purchase. Through the Internet, the retailer is able to advertise the business on the promotion, events happening in the store and also the sale of the business (Chaffey, et al. 2006).
It becomes easier for the Internet business to take orders. This is because the orders are received promptly by the retailer since the use of email or Net is very fast as compared to other ways used to place an order. Therefore the retailer serves the customer with competence which will attract more customers (Fisher, 2007).
In Internet retail marketing, it becomes easier to carry out video conferencing. This is achieved through the use of the Internet where the retailer reaches to the consumers in the web page. This conference will help the retailer and the consumer to exchange ideas about the business which will assist in improving the weakness. It would be difficult for a physical business to conduct a conference since it is time consuming and quite expensive (Daniel, Wilson, & Myers, 2002).
Determination of the market price becomes easy through the Internet retail marketing. The business will be able to compare the prices form other web based businesses and finally decide to use the reasonable price on commodities and services. This provides an opportunity to the retailer since he will select the best price as compared to other retailers. Consequently, more customers are expected to the business due to the affordable prices (Murphy, Celuch, & K Callaway, 2007).
Internet retail marketing will help in the cash flow analysis of the business. During the operation of the Internet business, all the transactions that are carried out are recorded and summarized in a statement. This is of significant value since it assists in the analysis of the cash flow and also for future reference (Chan & Lin, 2007).
The stock market and banking services are accessed with much ease in Internet business. This is especially true because the business will be linked electronically with either the bank or the stock market. As a result, the financial matters will be solved appropriately while the stock of the business will be kept to the current standards (Chan & Lin, 2007).
The Internet business is entitled to make competitive bids since the business will receive many proposals due to the large number of subscriber of the Internet. This offers an excellent opportunity to the business since it will be able to select the best proposal on the bid. Due to the aforesaid fact, the business will become viable and it is entitled to compete effectively with other similar businesses (Fisher, 2007).
Raw materials are readily available to the Internet business. The retailer has a privilege since there is prompt delivery of raw material from the supplier upon ordering. There is no delay since the mode of communication is faster. Therefore the retailer has adequate stock and will never lack goods for sale. This makes the Internet business to be more reliable than the physical business (Haig, 2002).
The specification of the retailer and consumer on manufacturing and design of the product can be achieved through Internet marketing. This is important since satisfaction is guaranteed in using the product. Consequently, a good relationship will be established between the retailer and consumer which will boost the profit of the business (Haig, 2002).
In conclusion, Internet retail marketing can never be underestimated in the current businesses since it has a significant impact to the business. Sales are likely to improve since the business is exposed to many potential customers, the business is entitled to expansion because it has unlimited location to operate, the unnecessary costs will be avoided hence large profit margins and finally the business will have more potential customers since more subscriber use the Internet.
However, it is important that the parties concerned are educated about Internet retail marketing since there are major challenges which are experienced in shopping from the Internet. Some of the challenges that are experienced are; customer profile, location of the shop, security, ability to compare shopping and finally the shopping experience. It is prudent therefore to conduct seminars which will provide training and coaching to the retailer and the consumer.
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