Readers of the latest Web User magazine might be a bit worried if they are business owners trying to make the best of what the Internet has to offer. According to a study reported in Web User, Internet users favour online-only brands over and above those shops that have a presence in the High Street as well. In other words, people who shop online appear to prefer online brands over and above those who also have a bricks and mortar store. What tosh. Tell that to Tesco who are making millions online.
What the research appears to forget is the huge “offline” presence that these “online only” brands have. At this moment in time more people are probably talking about Amazon than shopping on it. There will be people at dinner parties chatting about their latest order, people in bookshops saying “Let’s order it on Amazon when we get home”, and there will be teenagers in youth clubs recommending what the latest offer is on Amazon. Amazon is doing very well offline thank you.
The study published in web user seems to suggest that anyone starting up in business online will do OK, but if you have a bricks and mortar business you won’t fare so well online. Making it seem as though there is an “online” world and a competing “offline” one misses the point. Just as Amazon exists in dinner parties and youth club discussions, so Tesco exists online in a virtual shopping world.
Online and offline have merged into a continuum. To see your business as separated into two distinct arenas – online versus bricks and mortar, for instance – ignores the way Internet users behave nowadays. They don’t see the Internet as an add-on to their life, it is part of their life. This means if your business does not integrate online and offline you could suffer.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+