Today, when I was planning to go outside for shopping with my friends and observed their reluctant to go for offline purchase, I was forced to think why people are so much attracted towards online shopping. Because almost everything that you need in your daily life like cellphones, clothing, electronic gadgets, home appliances, furniture, grocery, fruits, and vegetables, food all are available at a distance of few clicks. Few years ago, shopping malls, stores were the center point of attraction for shopaholics. Today, people spend more and more time on browsing wide range of product available on online portals and buy after a long comparison of features, cost, discounts, cashbacks etc.
A lot of times, I have observed people going on stores, feeling the product and then checking the price of product on online portals. Greatest shock was when last time I went to buy a brand new phone and shop keeper told me the price available on each of the e-commerce site. That time look into his eyes was kind of losing one more customer. A small discussion with him gave a hint that there is a need to renovate offline shopping experience.
So if all of the attractions of online shopping could be incorporated in the existing offline stores, the changing mindset of people could be reversed. Here is small analysis on – why do people prefer online shopping rather than offline? What do existing offline stores offer? What are the changes that should be incorporated in offline store?
Why do People Go for Online Shopping?
Let’s first analyze all the factors that force people to go for online shopping rather than to store to grab the product –
- Time Saving – People having hectic daily schedules are the major consumers of online portals. With few clicks you are able to place order for the desired product and get it delivered to your door step in couple of days. Same day or next day delivery is also available at some additional cost. While offline shopping requires getting ready, to and fro travelling time, waiting time etc.
- Discounts and Cash-Backs – Cost concerned consumers are attracted towards online shopping because of attractive deals and cashbacks offered by online players. Offline stores don’t have funds to burn to acquire consumers.
- Availability of Product – Acceptance in tier II and III cities are majorly driven by the fact that limited products are available in offline stores while online shops are offering wide range of product catalogue. So people can easily get the product.
- Easy Comparison and Sorting – For analytical consumers, online is better option as it provides convenience like easy sorting as per popularity, money etc, and comparison of different products at one place. In stores, you need to check the products one by one and then choose the best available product rather than the best fit product.
Other reason of online shopping is that people staying in other cities can easily send the products to their beloved ones staying in other cities.
Why do People Go to Offline Stores?
Another fact that needs an in-depth analysis is why people go for offline stores rather than online players. So here are the major benefits of offline shopping –
- Physical Verification of Product – At offline store, people can easily view, feel, compare and judge the product which is definitely better way than seeing pictures or videos of the product.
- Easy Exchange and Return – You can easily exchange or return the products with offline stores. Though e-commerce players also offer the facility of reverse logistics but it takes time.
- Instant Delivery – At offline store, you don’t need to keep waiting for your required phone or laptop; instead, you get it at once.
Based on the need of the product, people can easily decide whether to purchase online or offline. If the need is urgent and instant, you have no other choice than going to store and buying it, but if you have ample time, you will definitely analyze the product online.
Offline Shopping – Why not Attract the Online Shoppers?
If offline stores try to incorporate the advantage of online stores, more people would get attracted towards it. So what additional offline stores can offer to attract online shoppers? Here is a small list –
- Screen Display of Products at Store – The biggest problem at offline store is people need to check the entire product physically which is time consuming activity while on online portals you can scan the entire product list in very little time.
Placing the display screens for your product catalogue would help consumers to view, sort and compare the entire catalogue.
- Reward / Consumer Loyalty points – Offering cashbacks and discounts to loyal consumers could be a good strategy for customer acquisition.
- Making Large Product Catalog – If your product catalogue is limited, it’s better to get the trendy products and make more choices available for people.
- Movable Shops – For capturing time concerned mass, movable shops are good option. Fitted with display screens and delivery from store could be a good strategy to attract consumers.
Apart from above mentioned short term solutions, following solutions could also be considered in long run –
- Operational Cost Optimization – Since the running cost of Offline Store is quite high as compared with virtual store, so the operational cost must be optimized at offline store to offer more discounts to consumers.
- Instant Designing and Preparation Techniques – It would be a good strategy to attract online consumers by incorporating techniques that allow consumers to design or customize the product as per their wish and get it prepared quickly.
So the advantage of both online and offline stores can’t be ignored but both have their limitations as well. With huge external funds flow, online stores are able to attract consumers in short span, but with growth of time and technology, these online portals would need new strategies to survive. Offline purchase is a huge market based and the dent made by online players can easily be recovered by acting smartly and offering the benefits of online purchase in their setup itself.