Free Essay: Online Stores Vs Physical Bricks and Mortar Stores
Online shops have been able to attract a number of consumers because of the wide variety of stocks that they are able to sell virtually. Despite the growing popularity and use of the online stores, their physical counterparts cannot be overlooked. The comparisons between online and physical stores can be made in terms of the products and prices they offer. In most cases, online shop producers and suppliers tend to provide product related information and this has been said to reduce extra time and expense of researching about the product.
Research shows that 86% of consumers are satisfied with online shopping and online shopping fulfills consumer needs in terms of checkout services at 83%, offering variety of brands and products at 82% and ability to track products online at 79%. The lows of online shopping come in the form of shipping with approximately 58% shoppers expressing dissatisfaction with shipping and another 57% feeling dissatisfied with wither-route packages (Kleinman 2012, p. 1). Further indicators show that 24% of online shoppers use Smartphones or tablets to conduct their shopping activities (Meyer 2013, p. 1).
One of the main differences between physical and online shops lies in the time spent by shoppers in identifying and comparing varied products. Shoppers in physical shops tend to waste a lot of time because they have to transport themselves to the physical stores and move around looking at the items of interest and comparing prices of different brands. To this effect, shopping may take two or more hours for the physical store shopper.
In comparison, the online shopper does not have to incur transport costs but comparison of products may also consume a huge amount of time because you are only using the internet. This may in the long run comprise of time spent on transport to the shop and the time used by a seller to bring in their products to the shopper. Ultimately, online shopping is less time consuming because it is easier to access and compare varied products online. Secondly, there is a price difference between online and physical stores. Since physical stores have many other operation costs such as rental charges and wages or salaries for their salespersons, they tend to offer their products at higher costs compared to the online stores. However, consumers shopping at such physical outlets can actually bargain and get the prices lowered for them. This is not possible in online stores because the prices of their products are mostly fixed (Kleinman 2012, p. 1).
The quality of the product is yet another difference between the online and physical stores. When purchasing products in a physical store, a consumer can easily compare the quality of different products and brands before settling on a particular one based on an informed decision. Online shoppers have no way of determining the quality of products purchased because they have no opportunity to physically examine the product beforehand. In addition, consumers who shop in physical stores are usually able to purchase and leave with their products right away unless the product is too bulky or heavy in which case it is delivered later. This is the opposite for online shoppers who have to wait for a while before they can get the product they purchased unless it is downloadable such as software (Hsiao 2009, p. 87).
Strengths of Online Shops
Most of the online shops use 128- bit encryption which is considered highly secure because similar encryption is used in banking sites. The shops can also be accessed from anywhere and at any time. Additionally, they can provide a wide range of products without any limitation because space is not of concern (Swaminathan and Rohm 2004, p. 748). The boom in use of web technology has also boosted online shopping because it has resulted in more virtual shops and this gives shoppers a wide selection of retail shops to select from over the internet.
Social media and modern technology have also been excellent platforms for online shoppers to find desired products. This is especially true for online shoppers looking for larger products such as furniture or even larger quantities of specific products. Online shops provide lots of information concerning products (Swaminathan and Rohm 2004, p. 747) which can make shopping more convenient. When buying retail furniture for instance, the consumer will not have to visit warehouse after warehouse looking for a particular product.
Weaknesses of Online Shops
In case of any disgruntlement or dissatisfaction, online shoppers cannot access return policies and this makes it risky to shop for certain products virtually. Additionally, even though the prices of products may be cheap, they tend to be inflated by shipping costs. The delivery costs make online shopping an expensive affair. The large number of unscrupulous individuals such as hackers and scammers makes the virtual space a dangerous place for doing business. It is easy for such people to access highly sensitive information and personal details and use this against online shoppers and this has resulted in a rise in fraud cases (Slideshare.net 2013, p. 1).
Strengths of Physical Shops
Consumers with no access to credit cards can easily shop in physical outlets because they can pay for their goods in cash (Rigby n.d, p.3). Shoppers in physical stores can touch and examine the products before making their purchase and this makes them feel like they are actually buying quality products (Kleinman 2012, p. 1). Physical shops also foster good relations between shoppers and sellers that is based on trust and guarantee. This can influence the shoppers to come back to the shop and buy more products. Further to this, shoppers are allowed to take with them the purchases they have made.
Weaknesses of Physical Shops
Shopping physically for specific products can be exhausting especially is a consumer needs to compare different products. Additionally, long queues, bulky shopping baskets and irate cashiers can make the shopping experience in physical shops a sour affair.
Online retail shops should provide sufficient information about the product. This can help the buyer to choose the right product. This can be done by labeling the products well using simple and clear images and descriptions. Online sellers on the other hand can opt for audio visual materials to advertise different products as this tends to be more appealing for most consumers. They should also provide summarized information such as product specification, ratings, shipping details and costs of the products. They should also show any other details that can help the buyers to make informed decisions when making online purchases.
It is also important to explain how other clients feel about the product. This can be done through social media and can help clients understand the product even more hence generating higher sales. Locating physical stores in easily accessible areas can help to retain old clients and attract new ones.
Hsiao, M. 2009. Transportation Research Part E. Shopping mode choice: Physical store shopping versus e shopping, (45), pp. 86-93. [Accessed: 4 Oct 2013].
Kleinman, S 2012. Online Shopping Customer Experience Study. ComScore, Inc. [Accessed: 3 October 2013).
Meyer, T 2013. Online shopping research – NSW Fair Trading. Available at: http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/ftw/Consumers/Ways_to_shop/Online_shopping/Online_shopping_research.page [Accessed: 3 Oct 2013].
Rigby, D. (n.d). The Future of Shopping. [Accessed: 4 Oct 2013].
Slideshare.net. 2013. Advantages and disadvantage of online shopping. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/dealsdirectaustralia/advantages-and-disadvantage-of-online-shopping [Accessed: 4 Oct 2013)
Swaminathan, V. In addition, Rohm, A. 2004. A typology of online shoppers based on shopping motivations. Journal of Business Research, (57), p. 748– 757. [Accessed: 4 Oct 2013].