E-Commerce VS Brick-and-Mortar

While many believe that Brick-and-Mortar shops are doomed in the technological age we live in today, there is still a significant number of people who prefer this practical method to online shopping. What does Brick-and-Mortar mean? It is nothing more than a 21st century term to define a normal physical store, which is literally made of “bricks and mortar”.

Offline sales are 10 times bigger than online sales in the United States, but online shopping is growing at a breathtaking speed. Researchers have predicted a 15% growth in U.S. sales and the total value of online purchases, while offline purchases have only increased by 4.5%.

At the end of the game, however, there is a virtually fair result between the two channels, as Americans who prefer to shop offline account for 49%, compared to 51% of those who give precedence to Click-and-Mortar. An interesting fact not to be underestimated, moreover, within our increasingly digital, young and social world, is that 67% of the so-called american “Millennials” prefer to shop online.


Reasons why online is preferred to offline

The online shopping business is growing three times faster than the offline channel. Talking about average annual purchases made through an e-commerce channel, Asia is at the top with an average of 22 online transactions per person per year. The Asian world is followed immediately after by North America (with 19 average annual purchases per person) and Western Europe, which has 18 online transactions per person. But how did this result has been reached? Why do people increasingly prefer to buy on an e-commerce site?

The answers of the people surveyed were clear and concise, as follows: the possibility provided by online shopping 24/7; the ability to compare prices; the (almost always true) belief that buying online is synonymous with better prices; the convenience of saving time and not having to go to stores; a wider variety of product choices; free shipping options; avoiding large crowds; finding products not available in your country; avoiding queues.

There are, on the other hand, also disadvantages in the use of online channels, for example:

  • The loss of the tactile experience.
  • High shipping costs.
  • Complicated and expensive return process.
  • Dealing with an unknown seller.
  • Online security can be compromised.
  • Product damage during shipping.

Offline shops

Although online shopping is in the limelight, there is still a considerable proportion of the population in the digitized world who prefer to go to the store for their purchases. The following are all the reasons for this: the possibility given to the customer to see and touch the item to be purchased; the possibility to try on the clothes; the products selected on the internet look different in reality; online delivery times too long; online shipping costs too high; products too expensive and valuable to buy online; the pleasant experience lived in the stores; the possibility to verify the authenticity of the product; return processes too complicated; the lack of trust in online security; the possibility to talk to a salesperson.

Even during the buying process in the offline channel, disadvantages can be encountered, for example:

  • The need to move to the desired store(s).
  • Stock is limited.
  • Shop opening hours are limited.

The researched solution

Given the numbers, it seems that consumers are looking for something in between online and offline. The answer lies in the omnichannel. What does that mean? It is a strategy used by most large retailers in today’s world, which consists of combining e-commerce and physical stores. In fact, 2 out of 3 buyers claim to have purchased something using multiple sales channels. Omnichannel consumers shop more frequently and spend 3.5 times more than all other types of consumers.

Most companies pay much more attention to the customer experience than to the sales channel and in fact, 84% of consumers believe that retailers should better integrate their online and offline sales channels. This allows the possibility to provide convenience and personalized experiences, and is the best way to meet all consumer needs and requirements.

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