Evolution of Shopping: Freedom of Choice

There’s an ongoing campaign in my community to “Buy Local” – spend your
dollars close to home so jobs and businesses can survive and thrive.

I did my best to help the local economy over the holiday season. But in
the end, when all was said and done, I spent close to half of my
Christmas money shopping online. In some cases, it offered the best
deal. In others, it was something I just couldn’t find locally and
would have had to gas up the vehicle and travel a ways to get. Online
shopping was there to meet those needs.

I had to chuckle when I read Robert Reed’s cover story on mail-order
catalogs. How did we manage with so few options for spending our money?
I guess we didn’t mind all that much, did we?

After all, it was such a pleasure to stop at the local store and get
personal customer service. And those mail-order catalogs were quite the
treat when they arrived!

I can recall closely looking at every single page of those “Christmas
Wish Books” from Sears, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney, and then starting
my own wish list. When I was too young to write to Santa, I’d cut out
pictures of probably dozens of toys from those Wish Books, then stuff
those clippings in an envelope addressed to the North Pole. If Santa
couldn’t find what I needed at Sears, then where else was there?

It’s amazing today how our shopping habits have evolved. It is still a
pleasure to shop locally but, for some people, “local” is within the
four walls of their home. They can order through a catalog, sure, but
maybe they saw an ad on TV or in their local newspaper and are calling
a phone number to order the item. Perhaps the antiques shop in the next
town has a Web site so they don’t have to brave the winter roads to
shop there. Maybe the buyer wants to do some “window shopping” on eBay.
So many options!

On the other side of the commerce coin… What are you, the shop and mall
owners, auction houses and dealers, doing to capitalize on these
options? Are you still relying on just foot traffic to help your
business grow? Or have you found other avenues to reach your market?

Today, there are countless options available from mail-order catalogs
and newspaper ads to billboards, radio spots, infomercials and Web
sites. Are you evolving along with the shopping habits of your
customers?

The only way to attract customers and keep them is to give them what
they want through the avenue they want it. And always give them the
same quality customer service you’d apply if they walked through your
front door.

Convenience. Service. Two words to build on for 2009. Best of luck!

Antique Trader would like to know how you reach your customers. What marketing tools have worked best for you?

Drop me a line at robyn.austin@fwmedia.com, post a comment in the forums on our Web site, www.antiquetrader.com, or post a reply here.

— Robyn               

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