E-Commerce Streamlines Sales Tracking
Contrast this against the madness of those Wal-Marts that refuse to include crowd control in their shopping plans, the cost of gas required to get to the madness, and the fact that you can't park within a half mile of the mall and have to fight with insane shoppers once you're there. The next important factor is that e-commerce is trackable. Merchants know exactly what their sales are and can report those sales in real time. Likewise, since virtually all online sales are made using credit cards, there's a second level of tracking that allows credit card processors to report on the number and value of transactions. So we know almost immediately just how well sales are doing, what consumers are buying and where they're buying.Adding to the economic strength of e-commerce is that merchants have put a wide variety of tools in place to encourage shopping. Amazon's Wish List is a good example of how this works. A person can create a wish list of everything they want, regardless of whether it's sold by Amazon. They can add stuff to the list over time and then make sure that their family and friends know where to find the list. You can, for example, publish your Amazon wish list on Facebook (as my children have done) just so you can increase your chances of getting the cool stuff you want. You can create your own wish list on various social networking sites.Credit card issuers are doing their part to encourage consumers to spend freely. For example, American Express keeps a list of small businesses that have good online or in-store deals. Shopping sites are all offering their own special deals. All of this makes shopping, whether for yourself or others, virtually seamless. While the ease of online shopping doesn't manufacture the money needed to pay for purchases, it does help people part with the money or credit they have in the easiest way possible. It means that instead of being pepper-sprayed at Wal-Mart, you can simply order online and get the same deals. This also means that while online shopping alone won't be able to take credit for turning the economy around, it is at least partly responsible for making the turnaround happen perhaps a little more quickly and for generating the facts and figures that will help economists make predictions faster and easier. It's too early to tell whether the record holiday sales of 2011 will spur manufacturing and job growth in 2012. But it's perhaps the best economic news to hit this country since 2008. Sadly, there are some things e-commerce can't do. For example despite the fact that I have a Porsche Boxter S on my Amazon Wish List, my family is showing no signs of buying it for me. What they do instead is send derisive Tweets about my big-ticket wish list items. I guess everything is moving online one way or another.