Consumers in 2017 have never had it so good. There are many things that perhaps were better ‘back in the day,’ but it’s hard to argue against the fact that we are given so many opportunities to spend, spend, spend. Sales from retail in the US alone was said to be around a staggering $5 trillion in 2016. What’s interesting is that eMarketer concludes that by 2019, nearly 10% of all US retail sales will come from ecommerce stores. Comparatively, this is still a small slice of the retail pie, but shows that a huge portion of the country absolutely loves their online shopping.
Certainly, e-shopping has a way to go yet to catch up to brick-and-mortar stores, but the fact that more Americans shopped online rather than in-store during the 2016 Black Friday displays a shift in preference. Should physical stores be concerned? Not right now, but like a younger brother determined to surpass his bigger brother, online shopping is indisputably a booming market with a skyward trajectory.
So why exactly are some consumers preferring to switch to online shopping instead of leaving their homes?
Perhaps the most obvious, but anyone who has been witness to crazed Black Friday shoppers fighting over electrical goods definitely has a reason to prefer online stores. However, it’s not just wild crowds and long queues that consumers can avoid but also the restriction of store opening times. It goes without saying that online shopping around Christmas time is hugely popular for consumers too.
Delivery of bigger items
Possibly the largest obstacle that ecommerce avoids is the need to actually transport large items home yourself. Sure, some brick-and-mortar stores do deliver the item after you’ve purchased it, but more often than not at a costly fee. The phrase ‘Free Shipping’ is music to the ears of any online shopper, and the accessibility that comes with it is a massive reason to cut out any visit to a store in person.
Even items once considered bulky and problematic have been revolutionized in some form. For example, one online mattress company named Eve actually delivers their product to your door neatly packed in a box. This is actually quite impressive once seeing the size of it on their homepage. Furthermore, videos and comments featured on this review show that there is more to the mattress than simply a unique delivery feature.
Usually better prices
Of course, it’s unfair to say that every online shop has cheaper prices than in-store rivals, as there are always bargains to be had in a physical store. However, due to significantly lower overheads and direct-to-consumer selling points (cutting out the middle man), prices online are generally far more favorable for customers.
It’s highly possible that you are shopping with a partner, and would like to buy an item for them as a gift but can’t exactly pick it up without them noticing. As well, online shopping can give people the chance to grab items they might be embarrassed to buy at a physical store.
Maybe the most inconvenient aspect of brick-and-mortar shopping is the fact that making price comparisons is a lot more difficult. Will every customer perform a thorough check of all the clothing shops in a mall for a pair of jeans? Unlikely. A few tabs in your browser is all it takes to quickly check the best price for an item in different online stores. Google Shopping can even summarize the cheapest results on one page.
Fewer unnecessary expenses
Of course, shopping at a physical store rarely involves only the purchasing of the product itself. Consumers are likely to spend more on transport, food and drink, and other items they might spot along the way, rather than buying one item online and closing your computer.