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eTailers Ponder: Why Consumers Don’t Buy Toilet Paper Online

I bought toilet paper from Staples.com once. It was one of those gazillion roll packs. It was reasonably priced, with free shipping. It arrived the next day and went straight on to the garage shelf for storage. Easy peasy. But I never did it again. Why? Honestly, I’m not sure.

Mostly, I think it’s a learned behavior. Toilet paper and paper towels come out of the grocery budget so I buy them when I go grocery shopping even though they take up too much room in the cart and are annoying to deal with at checkout and in the car.

Shopping for those items online was easier, but it meant making a special trip to the online store in order to complete the purchase.

Parents List Free Shipping As Biggest Incentive in Online Back-to-School Shopping

The secret to back-to-school sales success? Free shipping.

PriceGrabber just released more data from their yearly Back-To-School Shopping Forecast. Last month we learned that parents are going to start shopping sooner and nearly half said they expect to spend more than last year.

If you want some of that money to flow through your online store, here’s the line-up of incentives shoppers are looking for:

 

As you can see, sales are also a big incentive to buy, but almost every store on land and on the web is going to offer some kind of back-to-school sale, so it’s tough to stand out. Free shipping, on the other hand, is a rarity.

As Amazon Gives In, Online Sales Tax Becomes Inevitable

I used to live in the southern-most part of New Jersey, just across the bridge from the state of Delaware. The people of that area had an interesting shopping habit, when they needed big ticket items or planned a large run for back-to-school or Christmas, they drove over the bridge to shop. Why? Because there’s no sales tax in Delaware. That meant huge savings for consumers but a loss of business for local New Jersey stores.

The internet is like Delaware. Mostly, you can shop tax free if you buy online. That means that large sites like Amazon can undercut prices even more than a brick and mortar store, which led to the demise of chains such as Borders Books and many mom and pop locations.

Google Launches Free ‘Search As You Type’ Pilot for AdWords Customers

Google is looking to help Adwords customers convert better on their websites with the pilot program introduction of ‘Search As You Type‘ functionality for US based advertisers. Here’s a quick video from Google’s Commerce blog

This could be a great boon to any ecommerce site while larger sites can really benefit as this could streamline the product discovery process for site visitors.

The post says

The Search As You Type pilot is available to US-based AdWords advertisers for free, up to 25 million searches annually, after which licensing fees would apply.

Search As You Type uses Google’s predictive suggestions and instant product results to enhance a merchant’s existing website search functionality. When shoppers type a search query into a merchant’s site, Search As You Type shows them product suggestions and photos, making it faster and easier for people to spot the product they’re looking for and click through to make a purchase.

US Based Tumblr and Groupon Captivate European Women

Tumblr took top honors this week as one of the top 10 sites for European women on the basis of time spent.

According to comScore, the social, visual blogging network was primarily visited by women (69% of the mix) in May 2012, each woman spending an average of 71.1 minutes on the site. The only site that kept women around longer was Mail.ru, the online email and Russian social network provider. Average time spent there? 398.8 minutes. Wow.

Half of the top ten are retail sites including the the German retail site Otto Gruppe which came in number two. And look at good old Groupon, holding its own in Europe. I never would have guessed that.

The Rise of Couch Commerce (Infographic)

Online sales by way of a tablet has been dubbed Couch Commerce, but could as easily be called Bed Commerce since nearly equal numbers of people do it from either location. Then again, I suppose people could easily misconstrue “Bed Commerce” so it’s probably best that we stick with the couch.

The furniture in this equation is important because it represents a shift in how we shop online. There’s a psychological difference between sitting down at a desk and firing up the PC to shop, and sitting on the couch shopping while you watch TV in the evening. The size of the tablet and the touch screen makes it more engaging and since you’re sitting there watching a Storage Wars marathon anyway, there’s no need to rush. In other words, tablets turn shopping into entertainment and we humans do love to be entertained. (As evidenced by the fact that we’re watching Storage Wars.)

The Local Store Advantage In An Online World

Offline retailers have been struggling with the move by many consumers to doing their shopping online. The move online is continuing so rather than lick their wounds these supposed retailing dinosaurs are finding that they may actually have an advantage or two to exploit over the pure online play.

Many online retailers will put their hand on their belly, lean back and give their best “Oh, that’s rich!” accompanied by the look of derisive sarcasm at the mere thought that a physical store can be an integral part of the increasingly online world. If a recent article from the New York Times is to be believed that is a mistake of youthful arrogance that may come back to haunt them. With new attitudes and approaches even the practice of ‘showrooming’, where shoppers look at items in a store then buy them online from elsewhere, can be combatted.