In the six years leading up to 2004, the number of British homes with access to the Internet rose by 10.4 million. Between 2002 & 2003 there was a 16% rise in that year alone in the number of UK businesses buying goods and services online. Not only are individuals buying more over the net, but businesses are too. In fact, businesses were a lot more likely to buy than sell over the Internet - 29% of UK businesses bought goods & services over the Internet in 2003, markedly up from 13% in 2002. (e-comm Nat Stat)
Supermarket shopping and looking for books on Amazon are common web activities and far easier to do from home for all of our demographic groups. Communicating with friends and looking for new friends on the web is now established cultural behaviour.
The majority of this marketplace is now familiar with using a computer and have access to one at home or at work. Of the many reasons cited for going on-line in a recent survey (Pew Internet and American Life Project, 2000), interestingly 14 percent were researching a product or service prior to purchasing it. (Muir & Douglas)
Also, technological advances mean that access to the Internet is no longer reliant on the personal computer. Mobile Web phones and digital web televisions are making access available to more people than ever. There are many people who are still learning to be confident using the net, so there is a potential market of many thousands just waiting to get on-line. (Muir & Douglas)
The public as a whole are increasingly concerned with not just sourcing professional services that are competitively priced, but they also increasingly demand good service. Most complaints against solicitors are concerned with the manner in which clients are dealt with rather than the quality of advice received. (Croft, 2000)
It is this culture of searching for a wide range of services and price comparisons on the web that makes CertainShops a timely enterprise. We can take advantage of this culture in the following ways:
Improving time-management – long working hours mean both business and personal needs require full-time access to information and services
Increased competition of service providers indicates the growing public demand to support this rise - the number of self-employed people in professional occupations increased by 69,000 in the year to August 2003 (Nat Stats)
Increased Government legislation & more rigorous working practices continue to increase the demand for many professional services in the areas of contract law, insurances and the introduction of mandatory Home Information Packs in Jan 2007
Cultural shifts in attitude have caused a continuing increase in the demand for a wide range of business services such as life & business coaching, psychometric testing and even stress management counseling
There are already firms selling online legal, accountancy and coaching services in the UK which have a high Internet world wide web ranking – for example, one online legal firm is ranked 1,726,188 receiving approx 110 visitors per day. There is an accountancy firm ranked at 1,672,638 with approx 120 visitors per day, and a life coaching site ranked at 3,185,886 with approx 50 visitors per day (Dec 05).
In a search for 'divorce' through the search engine Overture, the number of searches that came up for September 2005 in the UK was 1,509,675. For 'accountant' the number of searches was 1,441,195, and for 'life coach' was 92,820.
With CertainShops all of these services are available in a 'One Stop Shop'.
Clients will be encouraged by the very nature of the site to be in control of their own choices in areas where they may have often felt insecure or un-knowledgeable in the past, particularly in the areas of Law. Our clear summaries of what each provider can do for them, the friendly initial contact phone or Internet call and the confidence they will gain from taking control over the areas of choosing professionals - which in the past may have been left to other agencies or the locality of a high street firm - will culminate in a sense of increased empowerment and satisfaction for all of our clients.