Retail Shopping Versus eCommerce

It has finally happened. Online shopping has finally surpassed brick and mortar shopping–sort of. An article published in June by the Wall Street Journal revealed, that of those surveyed, 51 percent of their purchases made in 2016, were made online.

Online shopping has seen a steady uptick for years and is steadily rising.

How the new e-tail shopping trend effects consumers 

Both online and in-store shopping have their advantages. There are those occasions, or certain items that are better purchased in a brick and mortar shop but there are so many benefits to online shopping it is evident why so many people are making the switch.

Benefits of Brick and Mortar Shopping: 

But let’s be fair, brick and mortar shopping is not dead– yet. 61% of consumers still shop in-store, compared to 31% who shop primarily online, which is proof positive that not everyone has made the switch to virtual shopping. Here are several key benefits to shopping at brick and mortar locations:

Instant gratification

One of the largest drivers for in-store shopping is the element of instant gratification. The ability for customers to receive the product immediately definitely gives physical stores the edge over online vendors. Until eCommerce can find a less expensive solution for same-day or 1-day delivery, in-store shopping will continue to win on this point.

No shipping costs

Need I say anymore here?

Personal connections and access to sales staff

Many people still like to connect with others. Being in a store around other people enjoying a shared experience is invigorating for some people.  Also, having onsite, knowledgeable and friendly staff to assist in answering questions, locating products or helping you get your purchases to your car is priceless.

The ability to physically examine the merchandise

This is another huge advantage physical stores have over the e-commerce industry. You know exactly what you are getting and you get exactly what you pay for. The ability to rub fabrics between your fingers, feel the weight and quality of items and most importantly, the ability to try on clothes, sit on a sofa and lay on a mattress before shelling out your hard earned cash is one of the primary reasons brick and mortar stores are still thriving. It’s all about the test drive.

Benefits of Online Shopping:

Early research shows that Online shopping can be a bit more cost effective and budget friendly and intuitively lends itself to a more controlled and strategic approach to shopping.

Online shopping is an easy sell and can be broken into three major categories: convenience, pricing and product availability.


You can shop from any place in the world–no boundaries
Products delivered right to your door
No long lines or time wasted fighting crowds
Shopping can be done from the comfort of your home at any time, day or night
You can shop during inclement weather, on holidays and weekends
Access to a wider variety of products and price ranges
No high pressure sales staff
Seniors and those without transportation or with mobility issues (seniors, those with illnesses and/or disablities) have access to the same stores as the general public


Absence of sales tax in a lot of states
Easy access to multiple stores at the same time which is great for comparison shopping
Easy access to coupons
Free and easier returns (complete a form and mail the items back to the store using the prepaid shipping label)
Auction based sites offer extremely low pricing at times
Research shows that online shopping reduces impulse buys

Product Availability

Products are always available. If something is out of stock you can place a hold on the item and prepay for it. As soon as the item is back in stock  it will be delivered directly to you.
If one site does not have a product, another site usually does.
Consumer reviews and testimonials are available on the merchants and merchandise which promotes informed shopping experiences and curtails bait and switch scams.

Either way you look at it both styles of shops have their blessings and their drawbacks. While brick and mortar shops have always been around, it is evident that e-commerce is here to stay.

Featured image by: Ian Muttoo on Flickr and available for use under Creative Commons 2.0 license 

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Author Profile: Consumer Expert Denise Hill

Denise is currently a writer and editor for a federal agency in Washington, DC. She is an open-minded free spirit always ready for new adventures. She enjoys traveling and relishes being exposed to alternate points of view. Faith, family and finances are the core of her value system. She follows her own path and marches to her own beat. She is a dream chaser and with her husband and best friend by her side, she plans to take over the world.