By: Carolyn Clayton

The internet is revolutionizing the world of retail, both in terms of the way we shop and the prices we are paying.

The internet is revolutionizing the world of retail, both in terms of the way we shop and the prices we are paying. There has been a great surge over the last few years of people buying their goods/services online, and it has become a recognizable and successful sales/distribution channel for many businesses.

More and more stores are beginning to realize the vast potential of the internet and what it can do for their business, and this has seen a big increase in the number of retailers who are now offering their customers the chance to do their shopping over the internet.

Shopping online provides customers with a number of advantages over in-store retailing, primarily centered on convenience. Online shops never close, they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, which means customers are able to pick and choose when they browse, and how long for, at their own leisure.

Most importantly, all this can be done from the comfort of their own home, without having to find the time to travel to various stores, leaving them free to pursue other interests and hobbies they are interested in. Shopping online is quick and easy, with no checkout queues or other time delaying factors involved.

Consumers are under no pressure from store assistants to make a purchase, and are able to go back and view the product(s) as many times as they feel necessary before making a decision. Finding particular products is a lot simpler, with help from �search� tool bars found on most home pages, and everything is under one roof � if not on the same website. Also, consumers can easily compare products they may be contemplating purchasing, in terms of price and features, before they make a decision.

The most important factor and the one most consumers are interested in where internet shopping is concerned is to do with price. Companies selling their products online do not need to incorporate overheads such as store rental, electric/water/gas bills, shop fittings/equipment, etc, which means they are able to produce and sell their products at a lot less cost to themselves.

They are therefore in a position to pass this saving onto their customer, so shopping online is not only more convenient, it costs a lot less too. As well as this, businesses will still have to compete with the other market players in order to secure new customers and retain existing ones, which means prices are likely to fall further still.

Currently, most companies are integrating online stores with their existing retails shops, however over the next decade we may see a huge migration over to solely internet based operations, which will bring prices down even lower. Coupled with the fact that the internet is becoming more and more widely available to socio-economic groups that previously would have had no access, and the new generation of internet-literate consumers coming through, modern shopping methods are sure to take a new lease of life thanks to the World Wide Web.

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