Practice English everyday with VOA Special English

Monday, January 14, 2013 | Latest audio lessons → VOA Learning English

The Evolution of Online Shopping

Americans are buying more products and services than ever before through the Internet. And the popularity of online sales is likely to spread to other countries. Online sales now represent as much as one-tenth of all retail sales in the United States.

Experts say online shopping hit records in both November and December. Fifty-seven percent of Americans have bought something electronically. This has led traditional stores to seek new ways to keep their customers loyal. Store owners worry continuing growth in online sales will hurt their business.

Cornell University marketing professor Ed McLaughlin says they should be worried because any products that can be sold online, will be. Ed McLaughlin says traditional stores can keep their customers by selling goods like clothing, which buyers may want to see and try on before purchasing. He says the stores could also offer things that are difficult to ship. He says some stores can please customers by offering to set up or repair electronic products.

Bill Martin is the founder of ShopperTrak. His business helps stores learn about their customers. He told us that traditional stores offer a social experience that some people enjoy. He says there is still a lot of emotion in the buying decision, and it is hard to get that emotional feeling from shopping online. So there is still a place for "brick-and-mortar" stores.

Bill Martin says traditional stores can provide goods to buyers faster than online businesses. And some retailers use their websites to persuade people to visit their stores.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Laurel Bowman . (Adapted from a radio program broadcast 21Dec2012)