Tracy Watson 21/05/2020 #Popular #Tips #Retail 9 min read One of the major lessons retailers need to learn from the current economic situation is the importance of having an online store. Companies that were able to sell their products and services online during the recent lockdown fared much better than those who didn’t. The importance of e-commerce will continue into next year and beyond, with worldwide online sales expected to reach almost 5 trillion by 2021. Also, by 2040, as much as 95% of shopping will be done online. Now that we have established the importance of e-commerce, let’s take a look at the advantages of each. Online Shopping vs In-Store Shopping: Benefits and Drawbacks Both - online shopping and ground-based stores have their advantages, which are useful for both retailers and buyers. Let's take a look at some of them.Benefits of online stores:24/7 availability – While the brick and mortar stores have business hours, an e-commerce website can be accessed at any time from any location. Customers can make a purchase right away and have their item delivered the next day. Convenience – Customers can shop from the comfort of their own homes without having to drive to the physical location and have to deal with crowds and long lines at the check-out counter. Time savings – The customer can compare and contrast products from multiple websites and buy whatever they feel is best. This can be done instantly without having to go from one store to another. Increased reach – Retailers can reach customers beyond the vicinity of their geographic area. In fact, there will be 2.14 billion online shoppers by 2021, and if you have an e-commerce website, you will be able to acquire a larger market share. Decreased costs – With a brick and mortar store, you have massive overhead costs such as rent, employee salary, procuring supplies, and many others. With an online store, you can avoid these expenses. The benefit of brick and mortar stores include:Tangible element – Customers can physically feel and try on the merchandise, thus giving them more confidence in the purchase. Immediate availability – As soon as the customer pays for the items, they can start enjoying them right away. The experience – A lot of people enjoy going from one store to another and looking at a particular item. This provides them with a pleasant experience. Shipping costs – While some online retailers offer free shipping, some do not, and customers do not want to pay extra fees. Less probability of returns – Certain items, such as clothes and makeup, require a perfect fit, and it can be difficult to make the right purchase without trying it on. Now that we have looked at the benefits of online vs. offline shopping, let’s find out how businesses can combine the two experiences to take advantage of both trends. Get the Best of Both Worlds Nowadays, pretty much all brick and mortar stores have an online store, but for the smaller ones out there, the advantages of making the leap to e-commerce are less obvious. In fact, according to a recent Forbes study, only 28% of small businesses sell online. However, you do not have to set up a full-fledged e-commerce website right away. You can start off by setting up an eBay storefront or selling on Amazon as a third party to dip your toe in the water. At the very least, this will provide you with an online presence that you can use to start attracting new customers. Speaking of bringing in new customers, you also need to have them coming back to buy more stuff. In other words, you need to start building long-lasting relationships with them. In a physical store, this is done by having a wide selection of products, great customer service, and rewarding your customers for shopping at your store. All of this can be done online by developing an e-commerce software solution for your business. You will also get the added bonus of reaching customers who may have never heard about your stores or those who live in other countries. The profitability of Online vs Brick and Mortar When we take a look at the online shopping vs in-store shopping statistics, we see that e-commerce is the clear winner here. First of all, online sales are expected to increase by 14.8% every year through 2023, while the growth of brick and mortar sales will increase only 1.9%. If we expand our horizons and look at the retail sales all over the world, the monetary advantages of e-commerce are even more clear. Last year, retail ecommerce around the world amounted to $3.53 trillion, and this number is expected to almost double to $6.54 trillion in the next two years. Harness Technology to Enhance Online Shopping When we compared the advantages of e-commerce vs brick and mortar earlier on, we saw that the physical stores still had certain advantages. However, e-commerce websites can offer the same experiences with the help of technology. For example, if we look at Cosmia, a cosmetics retailer, they can sell their products online with the help of an AR app. Customers can open their phones and browse through the catalog and try on individual items or ready-made looks. The app uses the front-facing camera to apply the makeup to the person’s face as if they were physical in the store. Now is the Best Time to Start an Online Store For a lot of companies, there is no need to choose between online shopping vs traditional shopping. You can receive revenue from both while offering your customers the best experiences. While some people may be on the fence about getting into e-commerce and are considering the pros and cons of online shopping, we clearly from all of the statistics above that this method is expected to grow in the next couple of years and beyond and you simply get more benefits than by having just a physical store. Skywell Software can create a top-quality store for your business, just like we did for Auchan and other market leaders. We know what customers are looking for nowadays in an online platform and will develop one for you that will keep customers coming back again and again.