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It's All E-commerce

Maybe eight or nine years ago, I heard a funny story. A business traveler, after a long day of driving walked into the lobby of a nearby hotel and asked the clerk for the best rate that night. The clerk asked whether the guest had a reservation, was told “no” and offered the traveler a room for $149. When asked if anything better was available, the clerk responded, “Sorry. That’s our best available rate tonight.”

The guest asked for a minute to think about it and sauntered over to the hotel’s bar. While there, he popped open his laptop, got on the hotel’s free wifi, and visited a large online travel agency, looking for options. There he found the same hotel offering rooms for $109.

He booked the room online, then walked back to the front desk, saying, “I’d like to check in.”

The clerk said, “So, that’s a single room, for $149.”

The traveler responded, “Nope. I have a reservation.”

Well, it’s a funny story if you’re not the hotel.

Eight or nine years ago, things like that happened, but rarely. We measured e-commerce, as a percent of business, at somewhere between 1% and 2%.

Not anymore. According to eBay CEO John Donahoe, “It’s all e-commerce.”:

“What’s changed in the last 12-18 months, in over half of all retail transactions today, the consumer accesses the web at some point in the shopping cycle… and increasingly, they’re accessing the web while in the store.”

Just ask our friendly hotel clerk. But I think Donahoe’s numbers are a little short. In my experience, depending on industry, the number of customers accessing the web during the shopping cycle typically hits 80% or more.

E-commerce isn’t an event any longer. It’s just part of the overall shopping process, no matter where your customer buys.

Check out Donahoe’s full interview, if you have the time. And get ready for e-commerce everywhere:

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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