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Guest blog: Broadband and the changing way we interact with businesses online

Guest blog: Broadband and the changing way we interact with businesses online

Guest blog: Broadband and the changing way we interact with businesses online

by Jon Smith, an e-marketing specialist at Insight UK. More of us are shopping online and there's no doubt that the internet's changing the ways we interact with brands and businesses. Here, Jon Smith - an e-marketing specialist - gives us his view on how things have changed as the internet has become more widely available. Whether you're an interested shopper, or run your own business on or off-line, read on and let us know what you make of his post … Recently on a family trip to Bristol, I sat reading a book to my 4 year old niece, when all of a sudden she jumped up and disappeared, only to return with an iPad in hand. She then proceeded to give me a lesson in how to play Angry Birds! Whilst I was impressed, it also got me thinking about how technology has changed since I was that age, and how this has changed the way we interact not only with each other but also with brands and businesses. Super-fast Broadband: When I was a teenager, online shopping was still regarded with mistrust and broadband was a relatively new technology which many households could not afford. As we fast forward to 2012, the world could not be more different; the penetration of broadband access in internet-enabled homes is now at 94% and more than a quarter of users have super-fast broadband*. So the million dollar question is – what does this mean for brands and businesses? The consumer purchasing process has been the most severely affected, at every stage, from the search for information to the actual point of purchase. According to Verdict Consulting, online retail sales accounted for 7.9% of all UK retail spending in 2012 - a figure they're expecting to grow by up to 41.5% by 2014*. The simplicity and flexibility of online shopping is causing customers to make their purchases online, making an e-commerce site a necessity for any retail business. Mothercare is a textbook example, having recently closed 111 stores across the UK to focus on its e-commerce business***. Brand Interaction: Not only are customers purchasing goods and services in new ways, they’re also interacting with brands and businesses in different ways. Customers now choose to interact with brands via social media, using these channels to create conversations about the products or brands they love or hate. It is vital for businesses to be a part of these conversations and to be able to manage their brand perception. As the internet economy has developed, so has the complexity of the services that are available to individuals. Cloud computing services are now readily available to anyone with an email account, creating a generation that is more technically self-sufficient than previous ones. The Internet is, without a doubt, going to continue to strongly influence the way in which individuals interact with brand and businesses. As broadband speeds increase and mobile technology improves, a strong online proposition will only become more important. How has the Internet influenced the way you and your family pay for goods and services? Leave a comment and let us know ... *(UKOM APS/Netview May 2011 quoted in IAB: H1 2011: Internet Advertising worth £2.26 billion) **(Verdict Research as cited by digitalstrategyconsulting.com, April 2011) ***(Guardian Mothercare to close 111 more stores, April 2011) This blog was written by Jon Smith, an e-marketing specialist at Insight UK, a leading provider of IT services and solutions.

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What will happen to the delivery options though? The other thing that's changed over the years is the traditional 'housewife' is at work. Trucks turning up to deliver goods have to take it away again coz there's no-one home. I work from home in a block of flats and watch these delivery guys come and go again every day. If you still have to trot to the depot to pick up your items it takes the shine off 'easy' buying online. If it increases the size of the depots will have to grow... The additional shunting of these goods around, transport costs, etc., etc, will become a factor. I'm not sure how this will go.
You make a good point about delivery, it definitely is an issue for online retailers and many do get it wrong. Having said that retailers are getting smarter and are starting to realise that customers also require flexibility with delivery. Tthat is why we have seen an increase in the number of retailers offering nominated delivery days as well as Saturday deliveries. John Lewis do this extremely well and often regarded as one of the best retailers in terms of service.
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And then, of course, make sure you read the privacy page and click the opt-outs and, if possible, don't give your phone number, or the next thing you know...
If you do decide to buy from online retailers then your credit card details and personal ID could be at risk from scams or from fraud from people on the lnternet acting as bogus retailers to get your credit card details to steal your money. I make sure l do some prechecks such as finding out the companies operating address,their phone numbers and that they have a safe credit card debit scheme like paypal or a simalar safe scheme before l make a payment. Also l google the company address and phone them 1st and read the feed back from previous customers who have bought from them. l would advise reading their company policy on returning faulty or unwanted goods and about refunding your money. Delivery charges can be expensive and you might get your goods cheaper at a local store instead. The very good online retailers usually email you at regular stages to let you know exactly when you should receive your goods AM or PM . Just because you decide to buy online does not mean it will save you money but if you check out all the prices via other retailers 1st the chances are that you will save money. Be wise and stay safe online by doing all the PRECHECKS before you give out your credit card details,name,address and other Information that could help the many crooks operating online. Be Safe Not Sorry.