Sunday, August 5, 2018

Shopping Preferences? Online or Traditional Stores?

There was a time that if a shopper needed to buy something they got in their car and headed out to the mall or shopping strip or a single standing store to buy what they needed. This is no longer the case. It has been no longer the only choice that shoppers have for a number of years, thanks to Amazon.

Others jumped on the bandwagon and e-Commerce has taken over. It has become more prominent and accessible for consumers. It is growing faster than other retail sectors and the tides are shifting. There is proof in that, simply due to the fact that so many store fronts are empty. Some of the larger, as well as the smaller stores are closing or downsizing, which means many lose their jobs. This is the sad part, as well as family businesses are going bankrupt. It could be fairly easy to overcome this and that would be to join in the e-Commerce. For me, it used to be fun to visity my one go to boutique and shop. Parking was easy, all of the sales clerks knew me, as well as what I liked. They would actually hang clothes for me to try on in my dressing room. Yet, they also knew when to back off and give me my space. Sad to say that the last few times that I went in, I barely received a greeting. I knew no one and no one knew me. The online shop is actually more friendly than in the store. 

In the eyes of most of  today's consumers, they are aware of the pros and the cons of both kinds of shopping. Depending on how you view your own personal situation will be the outcome of which you choose. Let's take a look at:

Pros of shopping online:
  • save time and money that you would use for gas and possibly parking
  • comparing prices on line is convenient
  • there is a much larger variety to choose from
  • there is no dealing with having to mail off gifts because the online retailer ships it to the address you choose
  • the concept of reading other customer reviews aids in making choices
  • you can remain in the calmness of your own home, especially if you have children to take out with you

Pros of In-store shopping:
  • trying on the clothes at that moment
  • check the quality of the material
  • have the product in your possession at that moment
  • see the design up close and personal
  • sales clerk assistance
  • there is little unpredictability
Cons of shopping online:
  • no trying on before purchasing
  • reading the store's advertising about the quality of the product and wondering if you should believe them
  • risk of online fraud
  • sometimes shipping cost is more than the product
  • waiting for the product to arrive
  • possibility of the product being sent to another address or stolen off your doorstep
Cons of in-store shopping:

  • lost valuable time
  • wait time for a dressing room to try on
  • pressure of trying to remember what the price was in the store you were in before the one that you are in now
  • crowded parking lots and stores, especially on sale days
  • carrying heavy packages to the car

Basically, there is a bottom line here. Stores are actually downsizing due to the growth of online shopping. This means that they also do not hire enough trained clerks to help their customers. Therefore, in my opinion, it is usually in my best interest to shop online. Just as the stores must make their shops consumer friendly, the websites for online shopping must make their websites user-friendly. More and more, I am seeing an online chat box so that the customer can ask a real person a question about a product.

Words of caution are to check and recheck prices at different stores compared to Amazon, know the return policies, as well as shipping fees. Many stores also have free shipping back to their store for returns/exchanges. Buying familiar products help to take out the guess work. 

With work and family life, I now know how important my "me" time is. Unless, it is an emergency, I have taken the route of online shopping. Whichever way I choose, I am careful to do my research on which product is the best for me. With two day free shipping at Amazon Prime, I can hold off on instant gratification of having the product in my possession immediately. 

If you are a person like me, I will leave you with one of my favorite Erma Bombeck quotes:

“The odds of going to the store for a loaf of bread and coming out with only a loaf of bread are three billion to one.”
This holds true for me whether it is an item in the grocery or any other kind of store. I am much more careful online than in person when the item is actually in my hands.

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