Mark Dickinson

Mark Dickinson is managing director of new media agency indexfinger. Home shopping is in decline, but the trend towards mass-market electronic shopping using interactive TV, as well as initiatives from the likes of Tesco, could reverse this mo

Home shopping hits ten year low” thundered one headline covering Verdict’s latest report on the home shopping market, which also poured scorn on the prospects of electronic commerce changing the face of British shopping.

But is the decline in traditional home shopping really bad news for electronic retailers?

The decline in the traditional home shopping market through agents doesn’t really come as a huge surprise, particularly when seen in the context of improvements made in retailing in the past few years, such as the growth of out-of-town retailing, and expansion of product ranges by supermarkets.

And the fact that this decline has not been matched by the growth in the mail order business must be of great concern to Littlewoods, Great Universal Stores, Freemans, and the rest.

It is unrealistic to imagine that growth in shopping on the Internet, in its current guise, will have a significant impact on countering this decline.

The demographics of the typical catalogue shopper aren’t exactly compatible with the home computer user. Not until digital television is established will electronic commerce for mass-market brands become a reality.

Even if the successful launch of digital TV does create the potential for mass electronic shopping, there are a whole host of behavioural and practical distribution issues that need to be resolved.

But the types of brands and products which are already carving out a retail market through cyberspace are becoming clear.

They tend to be KVIs – known value items – such as CDs, videos, software, books, airline tickets, and financial products.

I also suspect that more of us will be prepared to pay a small premium to have a regular shopping basket of standard items pre-packed, collected, and delivered.

But will retailers follow where some consumers, at least, want to tread? I believe it will be the Tescos of this world, as much as consumers, that will dictate the pace of change in the way that we shop.

Tesco’s experiments on the Net and home shopping trials in Ealing are enabling it to understand better a new way of trading, communicating with consumers and developing more personalised marketing programmes.

Its detailed knowledge of customers’ purchasing habits has already enabled it to predict how much of an appetite online Tesco customers have for electronic shopping.

Consequently, I doubt whether the leading supermarket retailers, and others, will take too much heed of the doomsday reports – preferring to rely on their own market judgement, trials and ability to move quickly into the sector once it is established.

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here