Brick-and-Mortar vs Online


A Shopper’s Perspective

The Old or the New – the Past or the Future?

The coexistence of brick-and-mortar and online shopping creates a dynamic retail landscape, and there are several factors to consider when comparing the two:

Both formats have their strengths and weaknesses, and their continued coexistence offers consumers a choice that aligns with their preferences and needs. Many retailers are recognizing the value of integrating both physical and online strategies to create a seamless omnichannel experience for customers.

Below is the comparison of Brick-and-Mortar vs Online. Can you think of more?

Journey   B&M Online
ConvenienceMany shoppers do prefer visiting physical stores for the experience, which can be a refreshing break from the monotony of indoor activities. They find this activity very exhilarating.The convenience it offers is unparalleled. You can literally shop while multitasking – whether it’s cooking, watching TV, reading, or simply relaxing. Using dedicated shopping apps has made the process even more seamless.
One of the key advantages of online shopping is the absence of ‘Shop Closed’ signs. Online stores are accessible 24/7, which means you can shop at any time that suits you, without being restricted by traditional store hours.
Time —You head to a physical store of your choice depending on the urge to fulfill a need or want. Time commitment for this activity needs to be high as it involves commuting, parking, locating the product in the store, browsing, evaluating, deciding, and buying and returning to your home or office.Time commitment is low- you can decide to allocate as little as 10 minutes to buy the same item online. There is no travel, parking, physical search, and other hassles involved.
Interaction & Connection— A smiling face, a few welcoming words, help to locate your need or want, product advice, a friendly exchange at checkout. This is an assuring experience- if positive and undesirable if negative. A word ‘Malling’ was coined to explain the urge to go to physical stores. An instant connection is made.— The external connection is replaced with an internal one. There is no human interaction or physical activity at all. You go online on the urge to fulfill your need or want. It now depends on how you feel about the process from start to finish- depending on how easy or difficult was the journey.
Product— The sensory experience is a significant part of the allure of physical stores. When shoppers visit a brick-and-mortar store, they engage their senses in various ways:
Indeed, part of the pleasure of owning an item can be experienced right in the store. It’s an immersive and sensory-rich experience that online shopping, despite its convenience, often can’t fully replicate. This unique in-store experience is something that retailers can leverage to create lasting impressions and build customer loyalty. If you have any more thoughts or questions on this topic or any other, feel free to share.

 The sensory experiences are totally replaced by visuals and imagery, product description including features and benefits. The information he gets online become very important for a shopper to become a buyer.
Comparison— The in-store shopping experience allows customers to see and interact with products directly. Here are some additional points to highlight the benefits of this approach:
Visual Inspection:
Hands-On Experience:
Immediate Decision-Making:
Reduced Uncertainty:
Minimal Returns:
These advantages highlight how the in-store shopping experience leverages our sensory and cognitive faculties to make informed purchasing decisions quickly and confidently. It’s a valuable aspect of brick-and-mortar retail that continues to draw customers, even in the age of online shopping.

 —Online shopping offers a different set of advantages, primarily related to the wealth of information and choices available to shoppers. Here are some points that highlight the benefits of online research and comparison:
Extensive Information:
Comparative Shopping:
Product Reviews:
Price Comparisons:
Convenience of Research:
While online shopping can be time-consuming due to research, it provides a different kind of shopping experience that many consumers find empowering and rewarding. It’s all about finding the right balance between the convenience of online shopping and the sensory experience of brick-and-mortar stores, depending on individual preferences and needs.

Trust —This is less of an issue- if you trust the store – you generally trust the products they carry. You trust them to take back the product when returned within a fixed period. You can go to the store and get responses from a real person who is there to answer the queries. —Trust is won over time and not that easy to build quickly. Firstly- the marketplace should have won their trust, secondly the store or booth and thirdly the product having the anticipated or expected quality. This makes reviews, customer feedback and social proof very important and crucial. Bad reviews can drown an online store.
Delivery Cost and Time —This can be immediate and very satisfying as there is no waiting or built-up anticipation. There is no delivery time or cost as most often you can pick up the product in the store.— This becomes crucial in converting clicks to sales. There is a delivery fee -either directly charged or somehow factored into the price of the product. In general- shoppers prefer free shipping and quick delivery time – preferably 2-3 days if not overnight. This is a big challenge for many online sellers.
Returns and exchanges —This depends on the store policy -but is general accepted by the shoppers. —Shoppers expect a similar process with ease of returning the product and either getting an exchange or a refund. This is another challenge for online sellers as it is very important to achieve loyalty and return customers.
Website experience from first click to checkout— The journey from driving to the store to returning home -everything adds up. The parking lot, the store, the traffic to and from the store- everything counts for the customer to call it a pleasurable experience or a nightmare.  A physical store experience is important, and all retail stores must try to make it as pleasurable and painless as possible. All the touchpoints in a customer journey need to be painless and positively memorable.— This is replaced by various factors such as internet connectivity, the time for the website to upload, visuals and imagery, ease to navigate and get the information required to decide at the earliest.  
Local Community —Some shoppers prefer brick-and-mortar stores as that is how they support the local businesses. Some use online stores for comparing products before they go to the physical store to buy the products. —The reverse is rarely seen. People do not visit a physical store to compare products and then shop online. Online shopping does not give a shopper the altruistic feeling of helping the local community.
Value Addition— Going to a physical store gives the store a great opportunity to add value to the customer total shopping experience— This is at times more difficult as it is virtual, and you can rarely interact with the customer directly- face-to-face and help him find a solution. It depends on what you have displayed in your Online store, what information you have given the shopper and how you handle his inquiries after he has bought the product.

Brick/Mortar and Online both have their advantages and disadvantages. For manufacturers they can continue to use the physical channels such as stores and dealerships while opting to go online for a wider reach and sustainable growth.

TMAP LLC can help the manufacturer navigate the eCommerce space to have a smooth seamless flow between the physical store and online selling. We enrich your lives- by taking the day-to-day grind from you allowing you to do other important things. That is what we do and can help you too.

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