Online marketplaces have been getting a lot of attention lately. The retail trends being reported mean that less people are apparently shopping than they used to be offline. However, that is not to say that online markets don’t need to catch up. There are many advantages that retail has over e-tail:
While it can be tempting to order something offline and never need to talk to someone, this is not always a good thing. People still want a human connection. There is something special about going to a physical location and being greeted by someone that makes the experience seem more genuine. Many consumers will choose one location over another because of the service they received there. That is why online retailers are still behind brick and mortar locations. Customer service agents can greet customers at the door and ask them question and answer theirs. They can shake hands and offer a warm presence. This is impossible online.
Speed of Access
Amazon and other sites may offer fast shipping so that your package arrives in a few days. This is a big step up from waiting weeks for delivery. However, there is no replacement for the speed of being able to drive right to the store to pick an item up in person. Many people would rather have the item right then and there and are willing to pay slightly more or spend time and gas money driving to get it. Online markets are approaching the point where they will offer same day deliveries, but there is still a lot of catching up to with regards to getting products to people faster. This is especially true of smaller operations that save money on shipping by using slower methods like ground.
Browsing and Trying
With online shopping, you don’t get to try out products before you buy them. This is especially true with clothing. And this can be a major problem if something doesn’t fit. A pair of shoes or a new shirt could easily be returned if they aren’t what the customer expected. With retail stores, however, customers can browse and touch and feel the items. They can try them on and make sure they love them before taking them home. This reduces the return rates.
It’s hard to have a product online and not have it knocked off. Anyone could order it and make copies and sell it for cheaper by having China manufacture it. However, with local brick and mortar stores, you can control the inventory. It is less likely someone will be able to find a unique item that is only available at one store. This allows offline stores to control their prices more and manage their marketing.
For any major purchase in someone’s life, there is a sales person there to help them through the process. This goes for buying a home, a car, or signing up for college. For these larger purchases, it is hard to have someone go through with it on their own online. Online markets need better ways for sales people to connect with prospects and guide them through the purchase process or they will never capture the offline industries like insurance, homes, and vehicles.
When it comes to shopping, people will always drift toward the best value and least cost with the most convenience. Online shopping is offering some great benefits for consumers. However, there are many things that retail still does better, and that is why online marketing needs to catch up if it wants to capture more dollars from hard working consumers around the world.
by: Sia Hasan