Online Shopping versus Brick & Mortar Shopping. No Contest!

- December 4, 2008

I visited a large retailer this weekend and spent two hours in the store shopping with my wife.  We went to buy a few specific gifts but ended up walking down multiple aisles looking at hundreds of products!  Okay, that is an exaggeration but it got me thinking about the difference between online and offline shopping.  In other words, the superiority of online shopping versus in-store shopping!

In my opinion, there is only one advantage to being in the store, which is the ability to view the product with your own eyes, touch it, hold it, and make sure it isn’t defective or broken.  But as I thought about it more, there are just so many more advantages to online shopping.  Here is my brief, unscientific list:

  1. When shopping online, you can compare hundreds (this time I’m serious) of products in such an efficient manner.  To duplicate this effort by visiting the mall for example, you would have to spend hours and hours walking all over the place, battling crowds and you are still limited to the stores located in the mall…advantage online shopping.
  2. When you are online you can compare prices for identical items at different stores with the click of a mouse.  To replicate this effort, you would have to go to one store, then walk, drive, or call another, then another and so on.  This can waste a lot of time and money just visiting the different stores to get a price that takes seconds to view online…advantage online shopping.
  3. Here is an easy one: shopping when it’s convenient for your schedule.  While most brick and mortar stores extend their hours during the holidays, few I know of are open 24 hours…advantage online shopping.
  4. I believe every state has a sales tax, but if you purchase from an online store that doesn’t have a physical location in your state, then you are not required to pay sales tax.  I look for sites where I don’t have to pay sales tax.  The devil’s advocate will say you have to pay shipping which negates your “sales tax” savings.  While this is true, most sites offer free shipping depending on what you purchase and the larger, more respected sites offer free shipping on orders as low as $25.00…advantage online shopping.

These are just a few reasons I feel shopping online shopping is better than in-store shopping.  More traditional brick and mortar stores are developing robust e-commerce websites.  People are shopping more online, and if you are a business you should be marketing to these potential customers.  It just makes good marketing sense, search engine marketing sense!

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