Shopping online has exploded in recent years. E-commerce as a whole has been on a steady rise for a while, but the recent pandemic made even the most skeptical people change their stance and start shopping in online stores.
They had no option but to order goods and services on the internet. And they discovered how superior it can be compared to physical retail stores.
Online shopping seems to be the thing of the future. Statista projects that the estimated e-commerce sale amount worldwide exceeded $5.5 trillion dollars, and the expectations are that it will continue to grow.
But what factors add up that push online shopping in favor of physical stores? Let’s take a look at them in detail.
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It Is Easier to Find Sales
As a consumer, you are trying to get the best possible deal and save money. It just so happens that online stores have more frequent sales and discounts.
Moreover, it is much easier to get notifications about sales because you hear about them via emails or online ads.
Not many physical stores invest in promoting discounts. More traditional channels like TV and radio are decreasing in popularity. And renting a billboard is hardly worth it financially, right?
For the most part, you would actually have to go to a store and see a banner here and there announcing a sale.
Sure, online stores are aware that discounts are an excellent marketing technique to drive sales, but if it means saving money and getting the most value possible, then there is no reason to complain as a customer.
Finally, there is the fact that with some effort, one can find a fair few vouchers and discount coupons to get an even better deal. Various social media groups or online forums have dedicated communities that share valid codes to help others.
Online Stores Cater to Consumers
One of the more underrated advantages of online stores is the fact that they collect shopper behavior data.
Tools like Capturly let online shops skip the guesswork and cater to the visitors based on actual interactions.
From a consumer’s point of view, it is more convenient when you are presented with relevant offers rather than bombarded with random stuff.
A buyer’s journey becomes more enjoyable when there is not that much filler to go through until you reach the destination.
Before the introduction of such smart tools, shoppers would get irrelevant information, surfing the website and struggling to find what they need.
It is akin to wandering around a retail store and being unable to find what you need. At least until you become familiar with the store and where everything is.
Ultimately, the convenience combined with the fact that you can get straight to the point is another win for e-commerce.
Online Shops Are Available 24/7
Current hosting providers are reliable enough to ensure that a website has an almost perfect uptime. Small hiccups occur here and there, but you can expect to see an online store working 24/7.
The fact that there are no time limitations means that you can shop whenever you want. If you get home late from work, you do not have to worry about missing out or getting up early in the morning to make it to the store before work.
In fact, the odds are that a store would not be open that early, which would mean having to go there during your lunch instead of enjoying your break.
For the record, there are exceptions. Some physical stores operate 24/7 and they are convenient if you want to go in and quickly purchase something. Self-checkouts can be found as well to replace real people.
However, when you compare the number of such physical stores worldwide with how many options are available on the internet, it becomes clear that e-commerce is a far superior option availability-wise.
Shopping Online Gives You Anonymity
Anonymity is another example of why someone would decide to shop on the internet rather than go to a physical retail store.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who wants to purchase a gift for their loved ones. The odds are small, but by going to a physical store, you might encounter the person you want to surprise. Or rather, someone who knows your loved one, and there are no guarantees that they will not spoil the surprise.
There is no need to risk getting caught when you can just go on the internet and make your purchase there.
To leave no trace, you can use the incognito mode. Or, alternatively, clear the browsing history in case another person decides to check it.
Be careful about home deliveries, though. If you order online, arrange for a pickup in a way that helps you remain anonymous. Many shops let you select the option to pick up the delivery at a dedicated pickup station rather than your home, so you should be safe.
You Do Not Have to Waste Time Standing in Line
It is no secret that rush hours exist in retail stores. Shoppers visiting a store after work is probably the best example.
One of the most frustrating things in such cases is having to stay in a queue. Having to deal with people in general is a nuisance, but if it happens during big sales, the frustration amplifies tenfold.
At times, it feels like the queue is not moving at all, and you begin to think that you would rather do anything else.
Yes, there are times when it is inevitable, and you need to be patient because you have no other option but to go to a physical store to get something.
With that said, if whatever you are looking to purchase is not too urgent and you can wait for home delivery or collect it yourself, ordering online makes more sense.
You can avoid wasting time in a crowd of people by sticking to shopping on the internet. It will save you more than valuable time. Your mental health should suffer less as well.
There Is a Wider Product Variety
Online shopping lets you explore all kinds of goods and services. Even if you live in a large city and have access to all kinds of shopping malls and other establishments, don’t expect to find absolutely everything you might want.
And even if you do, the odds are that it is much more convenient to shop on the internet than make a journey to the other side of the city to get something specific.
International shipping plays a role as well. It is becoming more common to explore various options that go beyond one’s country borders.
Say that you are a fan of a relatively unknown band and want to get their merchandise. Expecting to find something like that locally is a challenge.
Your best bet is to visit the official merchandise store if you want to support the band. And that is where international shipping comes in.
One drawback is the fact that it will cost more than usual, but if you were to find the merch or anything else you can ship internationally available to you locally, the price would be even higher because resellers will want to make a profit, and they are bound to take the shipping costs into account when calculating the final price.
Note, though, that international shipping does not mean you can order and get just about everything you want. Some countries have specific laws that dictate what can and cannot be imported.
Goods Are Delivered to Your Home
- Do not feel like going out
- Cannot go out because you are sick
- Would have to travel a great distance and want to save money on gas
- Are in no hurry and want to do something else with your time
Arrange for your purchase to get a home delivery. You can collect it at an arranged time and not worry about not getting your item.
Most delivery companies make sure to have the courier call in advance just to be extra safe, which is another instance of improving customer experience.
Also, let’s not forget about the fact that if the goods are delivered to your home directly, the environment benefits from it.
Imagine 100 people making a trip with their car to get to a store from their homes and returning with a delivery truck that goes around the town to get goods to the customers.
Businesses, including delivery companies, are also investing in environmentally friendly vehicles to make a difference and score some easy PR points.
Consumers who are conscious about the environment will prefer to go with companies that put the effort into preserving the environment.
You Can Shop From Virtually Anywhere You Want
When an average person thinks about shopping online, they usually associate the activity with using a computer. It is more convenient to browse online stores on a large screen to get a better look at the product pictures.
There might be instances when you encounter issues. For instance, if your MacBook pro keeps freezing and you cannot open an internet browser, the problem is related to the device rather than the website you want to visit. However, fixing it should not be too hard, and you can then continue to browse.
On the other hand, the rise of mobile shopping has encouraged more and more people to order goods online on their smartphones or tablets. Or, at the very least, they browse on mobile and complete the purchase later on a computer.
For shopping purely on a smartphone or tablet, It helps when online brands develop dedicated iOS and Android apps. At the same time, most modern websites are mobile-friendly, so navigating them should not be an issue even without a dedicated mobile application.
Add the fact that Wi-Fi and cellular data on mobile is getting cheaper and widely available, and you can do the shopping while traveling if you want.
Pushy Store Staff Does Not Get in Your Way
Some physical retail stores have pushy staff that are trying to persuade you to spend money. It is their job, so it is understandable why they would go with it.
Unfortunately, such behavior from staff members is annoying for customers. Some people come in the store to simply browse whatever is available, and getting forced into spending money leaves one with a sour taste in their mouth.
If pushy staff is one of those things you cannot stand, then you can forget about them by sticking to online stores.
You might encounter some pop-up ads, but those are hardly the same thing as interacting with another person. Not to mention that dedicated ad blockers on your internet browser work as a means to circumvent unwanted online ads.
Comparing Prices Is More Convenient Online
Getting the best possible deal is easier when you can quickly compare prices to find out which store offers the cheapest price.
Going around physical stores and collecting the information is the opposite of efficient. Instead, consumers can utilize Google Shopping, Bizrate, Shopzilla, and other price comparison tools.
Most tools also consider shipping and other additional fees to ensure that you actually end up with the best possible deal.
All in all, online shopping offers plenty of great benefits that make it an excellent option for those who wish to spend money to order goods or services.
Is it perfect? Absolutely not. There are plenty of problems, such as cybersecurity threats and uncertainties when you order clothes and other goods that you would love to try on first before spending money.
But even then, options to return and get a refund protect consumer rights, and most if not all online stores implement the necessary security measures to prevent malicious activities affecting their customers.
As we continue to move forward, it is expected that online shopping will be playing an even bigger role in our lives as more and more businesses shift to online operations. And who knows what new benefits for consumers will stem from the upcoming changes.