According to Search Engine Journal, Google’s Vint Cerf, a man commonly referred to as the Father of the Internet, (it’s not Al Gore?) made the following statement regarding high gas prices and the internet: Although I’m not happy with increased oil prices, the Internet (industry) may actually benefit from that as people turn to it as an aid to improve efficiency.

His theory is the push to save on gas will fuel business innovation. Specifically, he cites increased video conferencing and other advancements in electronic media as surrogates to face-to-face meetings, which require travel.

In addition to these comments, there is a recent Harris Interactive poll showing that one-third of adults surveyed said the high price of gas is making them more likely to shop online rather than at retail locations.

Taken together, these two factors show a new frontier of e-commerce solutions for those brave enough to forge the way.

Retail shoppers have been leaking online in increasing numbers over the past few years. Traditionally, the drawing power of internet shopping has been 24 hour availability and free shipping, as noted by 61 percent and 51 percent of the Harris responders respectively. But now that gas is a factor, and no one sees the cost of a gallon dropping significantly anytime soon, businesses need to adapt to this growing trend.

Just having an e-commerce website won’t be enough. If that site is confusing, users won’t stick around to figure it out. They have become accustomed to the way large internet retailer sites like Amazon and iTunes work, with easy to follow navigation and tons of product information. Your site doesn’t have to be as technically complex as those, but if it isn’t easy to navigate and understand, you can lose more customers than you gain. (A word of advice here is to seek the help of a digital marketing agency that specializes in e-commerce creation.)

Once your site is open for business, you need to incentivize people to shop there. Offer free shipping. Online discounts. Bundles. The internet allows you (and forces you) to be aggressive with your pricing. Online consumers are looking for deals, and if you can provide them, the business is there for you to take.

Innovation in the arena of automobiles will happen eventually. Whether we end up with flying Delorean that run on garbage like Doc Brown in Back to the Future or not, the shift to online retail is permanent. Get involved now, so your business doesn’t go the way of the gas powered car.

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