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It is also necessary to make a dramatic shift from hard to soft sell, the Internet is much more then advertising and business, especially retail, must come to realise that their web site is not a competitor with newspaper and flier advertising. Certainly, there are comparisons, but the Internet is rooted in information and providing something for something. The visitor must be rewarded with something, in exchange for his or her valuable time spent in visiting your site. So it is that value added data to a site becomes part of the information base of the consumer and influences their purchases, not only now, but also in the future. It is too soon to know what this change in the way people learn about things will ultimately have, but few are willing to take the risk, not to become a part of it, because in time, that omission may mean exclusion.
People have already accepted the idea of telephone and computer based banking, news of every kind has become electronic, entertainment for most people is visual based, but a growing number of individuals are looking for intellectually stimulating and interactive experiences as found with their computers, so it seems inevitable that consumer retail purchasing will become more and more an electronically based event. I would even go so far as to suggest that shopping malls that do not emphasis recreation will be turned into warehouses and bingo halls. The act of physically going shopping will increasingly be only a recreational event with all real purchasing being selected and negotiated online. The trip to the mall will only serve as a chance to go out and taste some ice cream and have an expensive cup of coffee in an exotic environment.
Big ticket items like furniture and cars will be compared and valued by consumers, based on the information they can get on the product from Internet sources while tire kicking and test drives will only be part of the final purchase ritual. Used cars and farm equipment will be hunted down online and then inspected on site when the purchaser comes to take delivery.
The public of today is almost entirely literate and after half a century of exposure to television advertising, extremely demanding of tangible factual support for products. Name brands and corporate identification, though a factor, is diluted by the consumers ability to shop extra-territorially thus placing dealer versus dealer.
One of the least understood elements in today's consumer society is that perception is nearly everything. The best example of this is the research done by hotel chains that revealed that people who never considering going for a swim will choose hotel with swimming pools rather then ones who do not have swimming pools. People without computers and access to the Internet will consider companies with web sites that are advertised on their display adds or in fliers, more modern and more likely to deserve patronage then those firms

Information based
Electronic commerce
Online shopping
Dealer versus dealer
Perception and influence
Saturday, June 13, 1998