3.4.10 Effects of the internet
The internet has changed the way marketers view the marketing mix since the promotional and place functions can now be carried out at the same time through a company website (e.g. the internet portal acting as a promotional and distribution channel). Digital downloading of music and films is also a good example of extreme disintermediation, i.e. the conjoining of promotion and distribution channels.
It is true that use of the internet and advances in access to broadband have made a difference to rural businesses (although difficulties with broadband are by no means totally solved). Larger markets have been opened up to all businesses: just as you can use the internet to reach beyond your local market, so rural customers may now purchase easily from any location in the UK and internationally. It is a double-edged sword.
So, some aspects of ‘place’ have become easier when living in a rural environment. You can run a website from just about anywhere. The growth of home delivery couriers is considerable. However, the cost of accessing these services can still be greater when living far from urban centres, and it is important to account for these costs fully.
There are many products – for example food products – that do require physical movement around the country. Small companies are frequently challenged by needing to send small quantities to customers when the cost of shipping can be prohibitive. Many ‘piggyback’ on large organisations but have to fit in around their delivery schedules and demands. Some combine to work together cooperatively to move their goods around the country – whatever solution is found, distribution can be a significant challenge to many rural businesses.