Ever since the popularity of online shopping escalated in the 1990’s, there has been an unannounced match going on, who is better in the battle between an online shopping store and a brick and mortar store? Both, online stores and retail stores showing strong pro and cons, which is winning, is hard to decide. In fact, marketing experts have conducted in-depth researches. They have come up with eye-opening statistics showing the advantages and disadvantages of both, yet it quite difficult to put a finger on which is the best. It started with simple buying and selling of various products; now, decades later, it is all about building relationships and strengthening them as much as possible. Online gift shopping is gradually becoming a craze amongst many customers.
To begin with, selling products online is entirely different from selling at a brick and mortar store. Merchants admit they have felt the difference in the behaviour of customers and the way they act, besides experiencing the alterations in the markets and the visible changes in the stores.
They further explain how retail stores differ from online stores. The merchants believe that the location of the store, appearance and customer services play major roles in making or breaking the reputation.
For retail stores, it is all about locations, locations and location. If a retail store merchant wants to attract more and more customers, he or she must take advantage of the physical location of the store. They are easy to locate and easy for many customers to access at the time of urgent needs. However, on some instances, lack of competition in the same location often leads to market monopoly. As a result, the customers can see a hike in prices of everyday products. Depending on the location and the buying capacity of the customers living around there, the prices and the quality of the products may vary.
On contrary to retail stores, online stores are literally one in a million, in the sense that, they have no solid presence. One can shop at them anytime, from anywhere, but not when the store is facing technical difficulties. Despite major challenges, such as lack of dedicated customers and influential competitors, online stores are flourishing. The fact that their presence makes a convenient difference to a customer’s shopping experience is a big advantage in itself.
The physical structure of a brick and mortar store requires a lot of money, before construction and after. Merchants have taxes to file and rent to pay in order to establish a retail store at an appropriate place. Once again, it leads to expensive pricing of the product, which sometimes may or may not always be customer friendly. Online stores, have no hidden or extra costs, to keep customers under false impressions. There may be shipping and handling costs charged by some online stores, however, there are those who have free shipping.
Having a physical space adds to the advantages of retail stores as it helps in displaying the products in an attractive manner so that the customers are allured just by looking at them. However, what attracts a customer to an online store are the reasonable prices and fetching sales, available throughout the year. Besides, if the site appears to be too flashy and complicated, the customer might just lose interest in it and move on to a competitor site to find his or her product. Moreover, if every crucial detail is visible on the site, it increases their credibility.
Staff hired for customer service at a retail store has to attend to more than one customer at the same time. Giving full attention to one customer may take an obscene amount of precious time, without express his or her impatience or displeasure to the customer, is a challenging task as. Unlike retail stores, online shops have many customer service experts who attend to one customer at a time. These experts go to the best of their ability to help a customer find what they are looking for and stick around until the very end.
Last but not the least, there may or may not be convenient exchange or return policy at the brick and mortar retail store. However, whenever you purchase online gifts, rest assured, you get an opportunity to exchange or return a product within a limited period. The debate will continue to baffle the customers for as long as the both these methods of shopping exist. However, be wise to use each of their benefits to your advantage and continue to shop happily.