selling stuff off- or online

werteindex.de posted an interview with Stefan Genth, Chief Executive of the Germany Trade Federation (HDE) on how consumer confidence can be strengthened, the need for transparency and market values. Even though Genth talks about traditional outlets his statments should have an impact on online shopping as well, as trust, confidence in the products will be a crucial USP to online traders too as they act as the direct interface between a demand and the consumer.

Buying online mostly is (besides me being lazy) driven by pricing. Online at least implies the feeling of being able to find the cheapest offer. Even though there is not such thing as price transparancy online, customers don’t feel being at the mercy of (greedy) sales men but finding their own snip. But by doing so, seeking the cheapest offer, at the same time we pile a saving account in our minds in case the purchase turns out to be less long-living or valid – resulting in another purchase sooner. We all do this – accepting online snips as kind of a gamble. But loosing in this game makes more and more people buy quality products again. Anyone who once had the joy to negotiate with an online clients service will think twice if a shop with actual experts in it, people who are present there to fix stuff will not be the better idea. At least for mid- to high prized products.

Also purchase decisions are often made against the monetary values of a product – when credibility, verification, transparency are more important, when such values outbalance the actual price like with fair trade goods. So even for online shops, service and credibility / trust will become more and more important. How to build and fan trust? For retail companies, no matter on- or offline, I see their main asset in service as well as detailed product information. But especially online services avoid editorial enhancement (like product information) like the plague. Spotify does tag it’s music by artist, album, genre – but if I want all records of this one drummer or producer I will consult my local vinyl store. Amazon tracks my purchases and buying my third detective book will result in equal offers but why don’t they send me information about congnac and dark chocolate (two items my local bookstore has in stock).

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