Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said the majority of the 2009 growth in online spending will come at the expense of physical stores. She expects more consumer dollars to be spent online because it's easier for people to comparison shop and to find what they're looking for.
In addition to comparison shopping, the Internet offers shoppers more ways to save money than offline shopping. The following are just 5 examples of what I've noticed in e-tail. If you have spotted one I've missed, please leave a comment.
Outlets are clearinghouses for old stock. Yes, they are similar to a clearance section except that they usually run on their own domains, but may be linked to the main e-store through tabbed navigation:
Deal of Day
It all started with Woot.com's concept of one item every day at a ridiculously low price until it's gone. Now the deal of day concept has been adopted by many retailers, both as microsites...
...and on retail sites:
Bluefly does a 2-hr lunchtime "Quickie" deal each day.
Certainly this is no longer a novelty since there's so many retailers using daily deals. But it is a way to keep customers checking in with you on a regular basis (hopefully daily), and to blow out old inventory.
Vente Privee (Private Sale)
Rue La La is an exclusive, invite-only e-store where members can shop from private sale boutiques, each open for only a few days.
Members earn $10 kickbacks when their invitees place their first order. Like a sample sale, items are deeply discounted and are available for sale until their limited quantities are snapped up.
Unlike deal-of-day sites, the vente privee is a collection of deals and may span more than one day.
Rather than shell out thousands on a couture bag, members of these sites can rent a bag and keep it for as long as they like, and return it for something else or keep it for purchase.
The costs of membership, shipping and weekly rental doesn't make these items cheaper than designer knockoffs, but could help the luxury or aspirational customer stay decked out in couture for less.
Sell Your Gear
Mountain Equipment Co-Op allows customers to advertise their second hand gear and purchase from community members. This is a very generous service from MEC as it may lower overall sales of new items, but it builds goodwill and community which is positive for the brand.