Online Shopping vs In Store Shopping: Comparing the Differences for Your Customers

Online vs In Store Shopping

Before and especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many shoppers have had to choose between online shopping vs in store shopping. According to eCommerce statistics, there has been a steady increase in online shopping over the last several years. This is largely due to the prevalence of smartphones and access to the Internet but also consumer behavior. Many shoppers scroll the web to find their products and make purchases from their phones with a click of a button. However, some still prefer to visit retailers themselves when making a purchase. In some cases, shoppers will even research the item they’re looking for online first and make the final purchase in-store. With all of these scenarios, what do the futures of online vs brick and mortar shopping look like for retailers and shoppers alike?

An Increase in Online Shopping

online shopping vs brick and mortar shopping

Thanks to the wide range of product availability, the convenience it offers, and its contactless nature, online shopping has increased worldwide. Online shopping and eCommerce have opened up a plethora of reasons why shoppers of all ages are rapidly turning to the web to find their favorite products. Whether it’s because customers want to save time on their way to the store or to save extra cash by finding the best deals, online shopping is a convenient solution.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has become even more popular. Online shopping allows customers to purchase exactly the products they want from the safety of their homes. Therefore, an increase in online shopping during lockdown was inevitable.

Why customers prefer browsing online

From hygiene to making last-minute purchases, there are several reasons why shoppers are making the transition to online shopping.

With 24/7 availability, customers can shop at their convenience, allowing them to make purchases outside of normal business hours. In addition to convenience, you can offer free shipping and loyalty programs to save shoppers extra money. Lastly, online shopping vs in store shopping allows those without transportation or time to make their purchases. It even encourages them to purchase more than they may otherwise get in the store.

Here are a few other reasons consumers turn to online shopping:

  • Convenience
  • Time-saving
  • Contactless
  • Competitive price matching

Who chooses online shopping?

In an eCommerce statistics report, researchers tracked online shopping and purchase activities and separated them by age. The study found most consumers ages 18-29 made purchases with their smartphones[1]Online shopping and buying-related activities performed by internet users in the United States as of March 2018, by age. This number declines as the age of the consumer increases. When it comes to shoppers ages 60 and up, only 19 percent use their smartphones to make a purchase.

In some cases, shoppers may search for a product digitally but still make the final purchase in-store. eCommerce statics show most shoppers ages 19-29 researched a product online before making the final in-store purchase. Shoppers ages 60 and over also researched products digitally. 39.2 percent of these shoppers then made the in-store purchase after doing the research online.

The future of online shopping

eCommerce statistics estimate there will be 2.14 billion online shoppers in 2021[2]Ecommerce Statistic #2: In 2021, ecommerce sales are expected to account for 18.1 percent of retail sales worldwide.. Additional eCommerce statistics suggest the total global retail sales will increase by 22 percent by the year 2023. The study also reports online shopping is the most popular online activity worldwide, generating about 3.5 trillion in U.S. dollars. Online shopping currently incorporates 14.1 percent of worldwide retail sales. In order to equip your business with the tools it needs to succeed, it’s important to employ an omnichannel retail strategy. This will help you maximize your customer base, sales, and profit.

How the Brick and Mortar Shopping Experience Compares

Though we live in a digital world, brick-and-mortar shopping is still very much alive. Despite online shopping becoming much more prevalent, the vast majority of shoppers still make purchases in-store. This reduces shipping costs, allows shoppers to take advantage of special discounts, and allows customers to see products before making a purchase.

There are also some types of in-store shopping that will simply never go away. These include those with in-person service, food/beverage, and many more.

Benefits of in store shopping

When it comes to shopping at brick-and-mortar locations, consumers have a plethora of benefits that they cannot find while online shopping. Whether it’s trying on clothes from their favorite retailer or avoiding shipping costs, online vs brick and mortar shoppers experience different benefits, including:

ecommerce statistics
  • Better Customer Service: When a consumer interacts with an employee in person, they can receive better advice and input on the specific product in which they are searching for.
  • Returning Items: Removing items from your shopping cart can be a hassle on a poorly designed website. In some cases, online shoppers have to leave their page to remove an item from their cart. In-store shopping alleviates this hassle by allowing the shopper to physically remove the item. It’s also easier for customers to interact with your return policy when they make returns in store.
  • Interacting with the Product: Another perk of in-store shopping vs online shopping is interacting with the products before making a final purchase. Interacting with items before purchasing helps a customer decide of the product is right for them.

A look at the future of in-store shopping

Brick and mortar shopping has a long way to go before dissipating into an exclusive eCommerce market. In fact, in-store shopping appears to have a bright future. This suggests brick and mortar will potentially make a comeback. However, most shoppers start by doing online research and following up with an in-store purchase. This helps the shopper investigate the product and find the best deal before committing to buying the item.

It would appear that no matter the future of in-person shopping, there will always be an element of eCommerce to it. Whether clipping an online coupon or researching directions on a website, brick-and-mortar stores must adapt to this consumer behavior to thrive in the future.

Online Shopping vs In Store Shopping

Whether your customers are shopping in-store or online, each type offers its own benefits. Though there has been an increase in online shopping, the majority of customers still prefer brick and mortar vs online shopping to make their final purchases. It’s important to make sure your business can handle both operations through an omnichannel retail strategy.

There is a way to harness the benefits of both revenue streams while staying true to your brand. For example, conducting market research on how your direct customers shop is an excellent way to gain insight. Utilizing this target demographic will help your business save time and money discovering if they prefer online shopping vs in store shopping.

Article Sources

  1. Online shopping and buying-related activities performed by internet users in the United States as of March 2018, by age
  2. Ecommerce Statistic #2: In 2021, ecommerce sales are expected to account for 18.1 percent of retail sales worldwide.

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