Why Location (Still) Matters in E-Commerce

Did the Internet really kill distance and render location irrelevant? Not at all, argues e-commerce and digital marketing expert David Bell. In fact, location – of customers – is more important than ever.

Anyone can go online and buy a pair of jeans, but the likelihood that we will do so depends significantly on where we live, says Bell, a Wharton professor who has guided (and funded) his students to start the likes of Warby Parker, Harry’s and Bonobos. Location shapes our choices and tastes, and strongly determines our buying behavior.

“It used to be where you physically put the store determined the activity of customers,” he explained in a recent Washington Post interview. “But now, what’s important is the location of the customers themselves… physical circumstances define your offline options and, therefore, the attractiveness of the online option.”

In his new book, “Location is (Still) Everything” (Amazon Publishing, July 2014), Bell proposes that GRAVITY – geography, resistance, adjacency, vicinity, isolation and topography – affects the way we, as consumers, search, shop and sell in the virtual world.

It’s this outlook on how our neighbors, sales tax and even zip code influence our shopping habits that has entrepreneurs, managers, investors and consumers alike reconsidering their online activity.

Stern Strategy Group: