With the growth in online shopping, one wonders if it still makes sense to put up a retail store. Over the years, the number of mobile shoppers continue to rise. E-commerce sales made up around 10 percent of total U.S. retail sales in the third quarter of 2018. 8 in 10 Americans shop online and 51% of them have purchased something from their mobile phones.
While the trend in online shopping continues to grow, it doesn’t mean that retail store shopping is dead. The truth of the matter is that a huge number of consumers shop both online and offline. A good example is Black Friday which is sharing its sales with its online counterpart, Cyber Monday. In fact, more than 80% of retail sales is projected to still happen within physical stores in 2020.
In this article, we shall take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of online as well as offline shopping. At the end of this article, you will be able to decide which type of store will be the better choice for you.
With the dawn of the Internet, many businesses have made the switch from traditional brick and mortar stores to online ones. Aside from not having space constraints and a wide variety of products to display, online shopping offers a wide range of benefits:
With online shopping, you can purchase items from the comfort of your home or office. Buying electronically also makes it easy for a customer to cancel transactions.
When buying online, you do not have to stand in line to pay for the products you purchased. You can do it in the comfort of your home or office so you save travel time. Likewise, you can easily search for products by entering keywords on a search engine.
Easily compare prices
Online stores display a whole range of products they offer in order to cater to different customers with different taste and needs. This feature allows customers to make price comparisons of the different products on display.
Availability of online shops
Online stores operate 365x24x7 so time is not an obstacle regardless of the location of vendors and buyers.
In an online shopping store, you can easily track the order status and delivery status of the product you purchased.
As a way of attracting customers to shop online, most online shops offer discounts to customers. They can afford to do this because they do not have to worry about maintenance and real estate costs.
Online shopping also has its own share of disadvantages though too.
Delay in delivery
Delivery of the item may take from 1-3 weeks which can be frustrating to the customer and can be one of the things that can keep them from shopping online.
Lack of significant discounts
Physical stores offer discounts to customers which make them more attractive than their offline platforms.
Lack of touch and feel of merchandise
Lack of touch and feel of the merchandise is one of the major concerns of online shoppers. You cannot buy clothes from online shops because you cannot try them on. 56% of online shoppers say they still appreciate the in-person experience over digital retailers.
Buyers like to visit physical stores and like to examine the merchandise before making a purchase. The picture on an online shop may be different from the actual merchandise.
Lack of interactivity in online shopping
In offline shopping, it would be easier for the seller to negotiate price with buyers. Showroom sales attendants provide personal attention to customers and help them in purchasing goods.
Lack of shopping experience
The experience of a showroom atmosphere cannot be replicated by online shopping websites. It is more fun to shop with friends and family. Shopping with them can be a worthwhile shopping experience.
Fraud in online shopping
Online stores are subject to fraud because the payment method is not as secure as paying in person. The customer’s credit card details and bank information have been misused which can raise some privacy issues. You need to be careful in revealing their personal information.
As the name implies, offline shopping is not done online. The consumer visits and purchases goods from the shop. While shopping online continues to be popular, some people still prefer offline shopping. Let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of offline shopping.
Here are the advantages of offline shopping to help you decide whether it is right for your business:
Instant checking of goods
One of the biggest benefits of offline shopping is that you can check the goods you ordered yourself. You can check the quality of the goods which is impossible with online shopping. When ordering online, the product you will get will be different from what you actually ordered.
No waiting period
Another benefit you can get from online shopping is that you get to receive and use the product right away. In online shopping, when you order a phone case or power bank, you would still have to wait 1 or 2 days to get hold of the product you ordered. With offline shopping, you get instant gratification.
If you are buying apparel, there is no way to tell if it is the right fit because you ordered it online. With offline shopping, on the other hand, you can try on the apparel and determine if it is the right size for you. You can easily switch to a different size if the apparel does not fit you.
Here are the cons of offline shopping:
One of the biggest drawbacks of offline shopping is the lack of choices. Brick-and-mortar stores usually have limited choices of products to offer to customers. With online shopping, you can choose from a wide array of apparel.
Online shopping websites run discounts frequently and most of the time the rates being offered are extremely low. If you like discounts and cash back, then you are better off shopping online.
In offline shopping, you need to personally visit the store in order to buy products. On the other hand, online shopping can be done with just a few clicks of the mouse. If you want to save time and want to get products in the most convenient way, you are better off shopping online.
Online, Offline, or Both
As to the question of,Which is the best option for you?’ The answer is both.
There is no better option because you can go online to supplement your offline business. It is true that online sales is growing and accounting for 18% of retail sales. However, the figure also means that 4/5 of purchases still take place offline. The truth of the matter is that you do not have to choose at all. There has been a recent trend of traditional retailers opening e-Commerce stores and online stores investing in physical locations.
Complement offline with online
The lines between online and offline retail are starting to blur. 85% of consumers want a unified experience across both. You must provide an opportunity to provide such experience to your customers. Today, there are many companies offering digital interactions with customers in-store.
Businesses should provide their customers with an omni-channel platform to address their needs online and offline. Omni-channel shopping allows consumers to purchase products wherever they are while communicating in a way that is tailored to why they use a given channel.
70% of US online shoppers said that they have used the buy online and pick-up in-store services. According to a study by the McKinsey Research and Harvard Business Review, omni-channel retail customers spent an average of 4% more on every shopping occasion in-store, and 10% more online than single-channel customers.
Integrating an omni-channel strategy to your business can help with customer retention. Companies with an omnichannel customer engagement retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omni-channel customer engagement.
With omni-channel marketing, it is much easier to move into physical stores and vice versa. E-commerce retailers can now easily open a pop-up shop and get involved with local markets. If you have a physical store, it is now much easier to sell online through eBay or Etsy for little or no cost.
Considering omni=channel marketing for your business is relatively important. We live in a digital age. Americans spend an average of 10 hours and 39 minutes of their day in front of a screen translating 330 hours per month. According to the study, the more devices a person owns, the more time they spend consuming media.
The Challenge of Integration
Because of the changes in a customer’s shopping habits, integrating online retail to your offline business and vice versa becomes a necessity. The integration is where the challenge lies. Remaining an online-only brand is difficult.
If you have an online store, it should be supported by an offline store. Physical stores provide customers the experience of being able to touch and feel the products. Integrating offline and online shopping will enable you to easily track the customer journey from what to buy to the actual purchase. This will allow you to identify the touch points that occurred.
Whether online or offline shopping, it all boils down to developing a deeper understanding of consumers and meeting their unique needs. Delivering omni-channel experiences can help empower consumer choice. It’s a matter of connecting the dots to see what will drive sales. Also, you need to understand the different online and offline factors that impact conversion rate.
Integrating online purchases with your offline store and vice versa helps assure that you will meet customer expectations at all levels. Omni-channel marketing is the way to go.
How airisX Can Help Your Online/Offline Store?
airisX provides your online or offline stores with a wide range of benefits. It was born of the need for excellent Ecommerce Solutions for online retailers and sellers in today’s global market. Increasingly sellers have to work overtime to combine services across multiple continents, multiple disciplines, and patched together teams.
airisX e-commerce solutions brings together a comprehensive suite of services covering all aspects of operating and growing an ecommerce business. Our solutions build the dedicated custom team within our organization to provide the toolbox for growth, expansion, and customer service free from the overhead and headaches of doing it yourself at a much lower cost.