The concept of localized e-commerce was discussed at one of the breakout sessions this afternoon at ILM:07. The essence of the question is how soon will SMBs be part of the growing trend that helps consumers find out where brand name products can be bought locally? Increasingly, local retailers will have to be able to offer up their live inventory in order to compete with the major big-box retailers that are well along the path of offering online shoppers live inventory information.
According to Joel Tolenado of Krillion, a really significant percentage of products bought by consumers online are being picked up at a nearby physical location. While MerchantCircle intends to fulfill its promise of having more than a million local merchants online by ILM:08, most of the panelists recognize the very daunting challenge of enabling SMBs to deliver live inventory information.
Bob Armour of ShopLocal gave a preview of what might be the next area of commerce that ShopLocal may tackle. As Armour explained, the grocery shopping area is very much underserved today, while the advertising dollars are huge and the weekly shopping occasions are many. He suggested that grocery shopping could be a ripe area for new initiatives that transform the current grocery shopping experience. TKG moderator Bobbi Loy-Luster tossed out www.grocerygame.com as one start-up having entered the grocery shopping space to try and pull the content of weekly circulars together with an online shopping experience.
No doubt, the online shopping experience will continue to improve each year with innovation focused on delivering the consumer the best possible shopping information. If SMBs can’t or choose not to take the steps necessary participate in this transformation, then perhaps the notion of Main Street USA will be, as many social pundits have suggested, a thing of the past.