“Everything is big in Texas”.
In Houston, products and services are known to be given at great values in comparison to other cities. Local businesses are fighting to give more for less to attract customers. The realization is consumers find and compare the “biggest bang for their buck” through internet research.
Because of companies like Groupon, consumers have gained access to promotions that help businesses gain a competitive advantage online. A great example- Houston is known for the amount of food & beverage establishments in the city. You can visit Groupon’s Houston page and be inundated with restaurant deals that offer a way to get a lot of food for a fraction of the price. Ex. ($90 worth of steak for buying a $20 coupon).
Even if there is a jaw-dropping deal, online shoppers still research where they will spend their money. In order to validate whether a deal is too good to be true, you must look at the company’s reputation.
If one were to type “Best Steakhouse Houston” in a major search engine, the results will display restaurants that have dedicated time to optimize their site so they can be found. If the site has feedback, then you know the people that have gone out of their way to comment on their experience have a strong good / bad opinion of the business which can help you make a decision. I would be weary of a site with no reputation.
The economy is decent in Houston, and many businesses know the importance of SEO & reputation management because of the results they have seen. The companies who don’t see importance of internet marketing can not see the opportunity they are missing out on, and only can see who they are competing against. Companies should understand that there is a dollar amount associated with the amount of reputation a business has online. With a decent economy, it is not a long shot to say there will be a return on the investment of building reputation.
Online shoppers depend on what other consumers opinions are about a company. Looking for feedback is almost a standard part of the shopping experience. If reputation is missing, consumers will turn to their social networks to receive feedback.
I think Houstonians love the idea of shopping online instead of having to commute everywhere. Public transportation in Houston is non-existent compared to cites like New York. Developing reputation online should be a priority to websites who have products or services in cities like Houston. If a customer is driving 20-30 minutes to visit your area of business, you can bet they will do research on where they plan to go.