Gone are the days when consumers are dubious about shopping online. Today, almost everyone has online shopping applications on their phones such as Amazon, Poshmark, and Mercari. But does this mean we have to say goodbye to traditional shopping? From the looks of how things are, a lot of people still go for in-store shopping. In order to see if there really is a victor in this shopping debate, here are the pros and cons of both shopping practices.
In recent years, online shopping has been on the rise, with customers increasingly using their mobile devices for various online shopping activities. According to a March 2016 study regarding mobile shopping penetration worldwide, 46 percent of internet users in the Asia Pacific region and 28 percent of those in North America had purchased products via a mobile device, whether smartphone or tablet computer. As of the third quarter of 2017, desktop PCs still accounted for the majority of global e-retail orders but smartphones were the number one device in terms of retail website visits. During a 2017 survey, 11 percent of online shoppers stated that they shopped online via smartphone on a weekly basis (statista.com).
There’s one major reason that explains why online shopping reigns supreme. One word. Convenience.
- You can shop 24/7!
You don’t have to worry about what time the mall opens or closes. Online shopping applications and websites are open all day and all night for you to browse items from your favorite brands. So the next time you’re stressed out in the middle of the night and you need some retail therapy, just go on your phone and window shop online!
- Sit back, relax, and start shopping!
Feel like shopping but too tired to get up, get dressed, and go out? No worries, online shopping has your back. We all get those moments where we feel like we want to buy something or check something out at the mall but it’s too inconvenient to go out with just one or two items in your agenda. It can be considered as a waste of time and effort–especially given the travel time to get ready and go to the store.
- Perfect for the busy bee.
Too busy with work or school? It can be troublesome to force a shopping session into your packed schedule. But shopping online can be done during your buffer times, when you’re stuck in traffic, during your lunch break, while in the train going home. It’s easy as long as you have a bit of time and you have your phone with you!
- You can immediately find reviews.
More often than not, online shopping platforms have a ratings/reviews section in the product page. So even if you’re not buying from an official store, like in Poshmark (where you usually buy from resellers), you can get reviews from customers who have purchased the same product from the exact same seller.
- Everything in one place!
Unlike going to malls or other physical stores where you have to keep looking around different sections and departments, online shopping platforms usually have everything you need. You can easily find what you’re looking for through the search bar, or by browsing through the different categories. And even when you don’t know what you’re looking for, there’s always an option to browse the most popular and best-selling items on the platform!
Despite the rapid growth of online shopping, in-store shopping is here to stay because it has a number of advantages over its contender.
- It’s easier to inquire and transact in person.
There can be inconsistency in terms of how sellers and brands reply to you online–some are not responsive, some don’t mark items sold immediately and just keep you waiting, while some just take too long to reply. If you’re impatient when it comes to waiting for online replies from the seller, or from the website’s customer service, in-store shopping may give you a better experience. Salespeople are always present and at your service in malls and stores to answer any question and to inform you better about the products they have.
- You’re more sure of the products you’re buying.
This is where online shopping can be tricky. You don’t know what the product really looks like in person. You don’t know the real color and size, you can’t really inspect it when you can only see it through your electronic screen. When it comes to clothes and shoes, you don’t know the fit and the feel of the item. Unlike when you shop in-store, you can fit the items and walk around in them to test them out.
- Ditch the long waiting time of shipment.
Although online shopping is extremely convenient, it comes at a price. You have to be willing to wait for your item to be shipped and you have to pay an extra for the shipping fee. While some are willing to pay for this premium, some may not–especially when you need the item immediately.
- In-store window shopping can be more therapeutic.
Nothing can compare to walking around the mall or your favorite store and being able to see and touch the items that catch your eye. A lot of shoppers find joy in simply inspecting a certain product, testing it out, and trying to get a feel of it. You can’t really do much of that online, can you?
- Delays, returns, and exchanges can be complicated.
Issues with items are inescapable–more so when you buy online and you’re unable to inspect the items properly, might be the wrong size, color, or just not what you were expecting. Having items returned or exchanged means you have to ship it back, and they have to ship you something new again. This can be very inconvenient when you have a lot of other things going on in your day to day life, and you got better things to do than ship and track your parcel every now and then.
There isn’t really just one right way to go shopping. You can choose to shop online or in-store depending on what you’re buying, how much time you have, or what you currently feel. Online shopping is growing exponentially but in-store shopping also has its own benefits. It’s all up to what you need, and which one works best for you.