For a long time now, consumers have been exploited and manipulated through clever marketing ideas in departmental stores and shopping centres. A very common manifestation of this can be the placement of products inside a store. Shelves on the bottom and lower heights target children and in the same way, products that are priced higher are usually kept in the centre rows. Nowadays, stores are also designed in a way that you have to go through many shelves to find convenience products. By being exposed to more products, consumers tend to buy things they may not need. These are also called ‘forced purchases’ and they question the rationality of the consumers.
Place mix is concerned about where the goods are available to the customers and how do these goods reach the customer. The route a good follows till it reaches from the manufacturers to the final consumers is known as a distribution channel. There are many factors that determine the type of channel a firm decides to follow. The technicaity of a product, its perishability, value are some of the very crucial factors. The size of the market and types of buyers (industrial or general) also have major effects on the type of channels. (Pujari, 2012)
Online shopping portals follow a more direct channel where goods are sold directly to users in most cases (There are some Business-to-business websites as well). Online shopping has come a long way from being in the backseat of the retail industry to now being the driving force behind it. Its monstrous success can be attributed to its widespread accessibility and convenience. But the lack of physical availability of the product while buying has led to quality concerns in the minds of customers. There have been many cases where the goods promised and goods actually delivered differ a lot in quality. Late delivery, huge online traffic at times are also some of the big issues encountered during the online shopping experience.
Myer’s Christmas 2014 debacle is one such incident where they failed to deliver goods on time and their website was down for an astounding 8 full days. There were many mix-ups in the orders as well as continuous website errors. Myer’s reputation as being one of the largest retailers in Australia took a solid hit due to this fiasco and it hugely affected its in-store sales as well. Indian retail giant Flipkart faced a similar issue on its much hyped Big Billion Day because the actual online traffic was 20 times more than the estimated.
In a very famous case, a West shopper, Ms. Eloise Carpenter said she had paid the amount of her shopping bag at the checkout on Asda’s website but later when she checked her account, some more money was deducted by the store from her account because a deal had expired by the time her order reached the checkout stage. The mere fact that a website has the ability to do such a thing is unethical and quite shocking.
The magnanimity of E-commerce cannot be denied though. There were more than 240 million online shoppers in China in 2012. (News.xinhua.net, 2015)
Although online shopping has really boosted the retail industry, there are still some noteworthy glitches that might damage the image and the industry’s reputation as a whole. Malicious and fraud websites that sell counterfeit products, deceive customers by way of massive unbelievable deals are just there to dupe money from them after obtaining their personal information. This practise is called Phishing. (Stavroulakis and Stamp, 2010)
Customers need to be cautious while buying products online and sellers must also not engage in fraud practises. By paying in advance, customers show their trust in the sellers and thus the sellers should also oblige them by maintaining their standards of service and products and not deceive anyone.
- Pujari, S. (2012).5 Important Factors Affecting the Choice of Channels of Distribution by the Manufacturer. [online] YourArticleLibrary.com: The Next Generation Library. Available at: http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/production/5-important-factors-affecting-the-choice-of-channels-of-distribution-by-the-manufacturer/1100/
- xinhuanet.com. (2015).China’s Internet users reach 564 mln – Xinhua | English.news.cn. [online] Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/sci/2013-01/15/c_132104473.htm.
- Stavroulakis, P. and Stamp, M. (2010).Handbook of information and communication security. Heidelberg: Springer.