The Dynamics of Shopping Experiences
Hi there, people! Let's talk about the present reality of our shopping experiences; physical and online shopping. Here, I will share how the dynamics of physical shopping have changed and how to take advantage of the increasingly digital-physical hybrid approach everyone is adopting!
Remember, the first half of 2020 brought some significant changes to our shopping habits. Overnight, Covid-19 shifted the way we purchase goods. And though reports record increases in fully online transactions, the increase in online shopping has not replaced physical shopping for most. As online shopping has geared up these past years, there are predictions that physical shopping will diminish for good.
How true is this?
This prediction isn’t entirely unfounded, but I'll share why it's a possibility.
Why Shop Online: Factors Beyond Convenience
There is no denying that more and more people are shopping online every day. The pandemic not only dramatically increased the amount consumers spend online, but it shifted how they do their grocery shopping.
So why do people shop online instead of visiting the store physically, where they can get a feel of the products in person?
According to the latest statistics, the ease and convenience of online shopping dominate consumers’ list of top reasons to shop online, with around half of their main motivations directly related to these factors.
The top reason people shop online is the free shipping offers. They would much rather enjoy the ease of having their purchase delivered to them at no cost instead of going out to a store to physically view and inspect the product, purchase it, and obtain it immediately after purchase—even if it means having to wait.
But the amount of time they have to spend waiting for the product to be delivered also has a role to play in people’s willingness to shop online. Some say among their top reasons to shop online is the quick, next-day delivery a store offers. So aside from enjoying free delivery services, online shoppers also want to receive their products as quickly as possible.
The convenience of getting purchases sent to them that online shopping offers also extends to having to return the product. Of internet users’ top reasons to shop online, an easy returns policy is one of them. Just under one-third of online shoppers say it’s a motivating factor behind their online purchases.
Another factor related to convenience is the quick checkout process, which a good number of online shoppers list as one of their main reasons to shop online.
Though ease and comfort form the basis for the popularity of online shopping, there are other reasons consumers enjoy it.
For some of them, the ability to save money is also one of their top reasons to shop online. Statistics show that 37.9% of consumers say having coupons and discounts to apply to their online purchases drives them to shop online, while 24.6% do so to collect loyalty points.
Advantages of physical stores versus online stores
As they say, every coin has two sides and this issue would not be an exception. Physical stores continue to excel at several points that virtual stores have not yet reached.
Let’s see what they are.
Customers want to see the product. There are still people who need to touch, see and feel the product before buying it.
Especially when it comes to industries such as fashion or cosmetics, in which the sensory experience is so important (so far, it is not possible to smell a perfume through the screen or feel the touch of a cream on your skin).
Online businesses have set the wheels in motion in this regard and are increasingly offering the possibility of a completely free return if the product does not satisfy.
Another strategy is to include free samples.
1. The difficulty selling certain products online
There are products that for their price or special nature that seem impossible to sell online. A typical example is cars, although as you commented on one occasion, online car dealerships are a reality that is becoming closer.
2. Customer loyalty
Serving customers in person indeed promotes loyalty, but this isn’t a definitive argument in favor of local shops.
Online stores have their ways to get customer loyalty. If your products and services are competitive, you will earn their trust.
3. Safer transactions
This is getting less common, but still, some clients are wary of sharing their account information online.
They feel more comfortable buying in a run-of-the-mill store, where they can be sure their data will not get stolen by hackers.
But, as mentioned previously, this is getting less common.
Partly because everyone is much more used to buying online (especially since the pandemic). And partially because security systems online have progressed immensely in the last few years.
4. No shipping costs and no waiting
When buying in a physical shop, you don’t need to wait for the product.
You go to the counter, pay and take it (obviously, there are exceptions: maybe there is no stock left, or this product is only sold on demand…)
Also, unless you specifically ask for it to be taken to your home, you don’t need to pay for shipping.
Some eCommerce have stepped up and already deliver within 24/48 hours or less (this is known as same-day delivery).
But even so, going to a store in your neighborhood is still the fastest option.
Conclusion: does the physical shop win or the online shop?
Although each business model has its advantages, the trend is for e-commerce sales to take an increasing share of the cake.
If you are going to start a business now, except in very rare cases, it is best to take your first steps with an online shop.
Of course, with all the money you save on rent and other costs, invest it in creating a good digital marketing strategy.
If you think that on the Internet, it is enough just to upload your products to the web… you are very wrong. And if you already have a physical shop?
The reality is that every day that goes by without you creating a virtual version of your shop you are losing money. It is a minimal investment for all the benefits it can bring you.