On a + note

Online shopping in library land. #6:2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on March 19, 2012

Online shopping is no longer all about deals and saving money. Now, it is also driven by convenience and personalization. More than 125 billion online orders were placed in 2010. 44% of them were for purchasing reading material, followed closely by clothing and airline tickets! The majority of online purchases come from urban centers. However, Canadian small town and rural online shoppers are catching on to the trend in a big way!


When do folks shop online? The vast majority actually fills their shopping carts over lunch hour, but spend more time on the site “browsing” in the late evening.  Why do we browse at night and actually purchase goods while eating a sandwich at our desk?

Well, the many reasons include that internet shoppers are busy, multi-taskers, and know what they want. They enjoy browsing, but need a pause before actually making the commitment to purchase the item. They are a huge community of consumers we need to understand better.


Who cares, Kitty? What does online shopping have to do with library land? I thought you’d never ask!


We’ve known for years that library usage has been connected to shopping patterns. Your mom went to the farmers market, swung by the library, and then headed home. But how do online shopping habits impact online library usage today? What can we learn?

  • Free iPhone shopping applications are driving big business. This trend is already spilling over into library land as we rush to develop mobile applications to connect instantly and remotely the customer to the catalogue.
  • YouTube celebrity endorsements are driving huge online sales. The authenticity of the endorser, such as actress Rachel Bilson endorsing Steve Madden shoes or Bellville native Avril Lavigne singing the praises of Proactiv, have paid off for corporations. Why don’t we have celebrity-endorsed books on our websites?
  • Watch for more video applications for the online shopper and the same trend in library land with library websites using video to push the product or tell our story.
  • In-store pick up of online purchases is taking off instead of the more expensive home delivery option. Watch Sears and Wal-Mart which often will carry it right to your car. This trend is all about customer convenience and saving time. However, in library land, we are still arguing about the value of drive-up, pick-up windows!    
  • Online shoppers like the “back story.” They want to feel like they are part of a community and have a personal connection with the designer or store. Personalization and behind-the-scenes access make the shopper feel valued, special, and more willing to spend money. This supports the trend in library land of Library Directors using YouTube to connect with the community and highlight life behind the desk. There are privileges in membership!
  • Online shoppers can now try on garments virtually before purchasing them. Bodymetrics has designed personalized software using 3D body scanning technology that allows the user to see how a garment will fit and look before purchasing.  For library land, our customers need to test drive a book, perhaps via blog or downloading a section, before borrowing it.


We need to pay attention to trends in online shopping if we are to better understand and keep pace with our customers. How interesting!


Kitty Pope                                                                                                   #6 March 2012



One Response to 'Online shopping in library land. #6:2011'

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  1. Shamin said,

    It is really an interesting online shopping world. Sometime we love online shopping simply not because for the cheap and bargain items….it really because the convenience for normal people….sometime it will be so tired to go shopping mall to buy groceries compare sitting at home enjoying our dinner while we can purchase our groceries through the computer. It will be very interesting to have a 3D body scanning technology, any websites have use this technology for selling clothes online?

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