What You Need To Know About Online Vs In-Store Shopping

These days, with Covid-19 being a norm in our lives, many have taken to the internet to procure their necessities. In fact, many swear by the magic of online shopping and believe it is the way to go. Yet, for all the conveniences and practicality that it brings, there are still traditionalists who believe in a good ol’ physical shopping. Today, we look at the pros for online and physical shopping each.

Online shopping

1. 24/7 convenience

These days, it’s all about convenience and being on the go, and convenience is the middle name for online shopping. No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, the tap of a button from your phone, or a click from your mouse will easily do the trick. The best part about online shopping isn’t just the fact that you can do everything from the comfort of your walls or devices, but that these purchases can be made at any living hour of your lives. In need of  retail therapy at 12AM? Why, look no further than an online store then!

2. Rarity

We’ve all been there before. You have an item that you would like to purchase but you can’t find it anywhere in your country and the only way to get it is to order off Amazon. It happens. Sometimes it’s better to just get some things online. Why? If you had your local supplier ship the item, you would have to pay for the middleman costs, which may amount to even more from ordering off Amazon alone. It’s a lovely way to support your go-to local businesses, but if that sort of spending is beyond your financial power, you’re better off getting it online. Period.

3. Up-to-the-minute updates

We’ve always wanted to buy an item online, we happily load it to our carts and we press the checkout button to purchase it, only to find out the item is out of stock or worse, obsolete. Sounds familiar? We’re sure it is. We’ve all had instances where we’ve tried to buy an item online only to discover it is unavailable. 

The good news is… Most stores have a “Notify me” button to tell you when the item is available. This beats having to physically travel down to the physical store to check for item availability every other day, or to wait for the dreaded phone call to tell you the item has arrived. In fact, real-time updates also show you the progress of your item delivery. Good things come to those who wait, so keep calm and wait!

4. The convenience of gifting

Because it’s online shopping, most stores allow you to change your shipping address or add another shipping address, this allows you to plan a surprise gift for your loved ones to receive at their door. Some online businesses have also caught on to the trend of gifting ala buy one, and get one free promo. In fact, gift sets are rather common these days. Businesses are constantly finding excuses to promote their items in the name of festivities, think 11.11, Payday sales, the standard festival sales. Getting your loved ones gifts has never been easier.

Physical shopping

1. Quality assured

Sure, online shopping is all about convenience. The tricky part about shopping online is it’s always going to be a box of surprises. The online catalog might give you a good idea about what you’re going to get, but sometimes the actual product might vary from the image. Which is why some folks prefer old-fashioned physical shopping. Take groceries for example. These days, businesses are selling fresh produce online. But here’s the thing about buying them online, you can’t control the quality, doneness or freshness. You can only hope that the seller sticks to their words and handpicks the best quality ingredient there is out there for you. Here’s another example, when you buy clothings online, you can’t tell if the dress has minor creases or stretches that you may not like. 

Physical shopping eliminates the element of surprise. Seeing products in the flesh allows you to check for quality. Be it fresh produce, clothings, novelty items or just about some other things under the sun, some products are better bought in person.

2. Rapport building and customer loyalty

Nothing is more powerful than the act of building rapport, then customer loyalty with your customers. Many businesses are guilty of overlooking this, so much so that it’s probably a crime by now. Okay, online businesses may have in-built algorithms and analytics to study your consumership and its relevant behaviors. They send you template emails with your name on it to make you feel like it’s personalized, but none of that comes close to understanding your customer in-person. There’s something unique and lasting about a business that knows your preference in products. Rather than having a computer to recommend what to buy, it feels a little more personalized to have a living person recommend a product that’s of interest to you. The key thing to realize here is it’s all about having the human touch, the chance to socialize, to make conversations and add on to the impression. These aren’t things a computer can perfectly replicate, and socializing is a much-needed activity in these times, more than ever.

3. Free shipping costs

You heard us right. Free shipping costs. But this is old news. You’re personally making the trip down to a physical store to get your items. Why would the store charge you for delivery fees? But here’s another reason free shipping costs wins the round. 

Imagine buying an item online that costs $3, with $5 delivery cost on the side. You’ve spent more than what you came for. Granted, online shopping is convenient, but unless it’s an item that you buy locally, why pay for shipment? Especially if the item costs less than the shipment itself. Sometimes, it isn’t so bad to purchase an item physically. Even if traveling is involved. Think of it going out for a short bit, to unwind and relax.

4. Safety

Cybercrimes are real, and it is an issue that troubles many of us these days. With buying becoming increasingly digitized, and online shopping being the way to go, it’s only a matter of time before unscrupulous syndicates find a way to access your financial information. Thankfully, most ecommerce stores come with foolproof security, but there are still people who have fallen victim to credit card phishing. With physical shopping, your information is safely kept and processed in backend operations. There is no easy way to say this, you’ll just have to be careful while shopping online. Or if you can help it, go for physical shopping when it really matters. 

Online & Physical shopping: Real-time assistance

This wasn’t an easy decision to make, but we ultimately decided that it would be a tie for the two as far as customer service goes. Many online shops have their in-house live chat system where you can quickly approach to help troubleshoot your issues. Meanwhile, physical stores have staff stationed at the store, always at the ready to attend to your needs. 

The Bottomline

You might be disappointed to find that there is no clear winner between online and physical shopping, because the truth is, it is what it is. There isn’t a hard and fast rule to shopping, and different shopping methods have created different opportunities and ways for us to buy our necessities and luxuries. There are some items that are best bought in person, whilst some items are perfectly fine bought online. Both come with their own caveats but together, they have come together to create a comprehensive and immersive experience that has deepened consumerism today.