In 2018, there are more than 4 billion internet users around the world. Much of the growth of internet users have been encouraged by more affordable smartphones and mobile data plans. More than 200 million people got their first mobile device in 2017, and two-thirds of the world’s 7.6 billion populations now have a mobile phone.
These mean more people have access to e-commerce. But can e-commerce dominate physical stores?
Advantages of e-commerce
- Save cost. An e-commerce business could grow much faster because of less capital investment and operation costs make e-commerce sites can generate more profit. It is way cheaper to build an e-commerce website than rent a physical shop and buy its facilities.
- Very convenient and time-saving. Especially when people want to buy large and heavy things that difficult to carry around or cannot fit into their car like furniture and baby diapers. E-commerce platforms usually equipped with the feature that enable people to know when the product will arrive at their hands.
- Variety type of payment modes like e-wallets, coupons & EMI etc for the customers to choose according to their needs and get more rewards. For example, a customer can get a discount on prepaid payment.
- Customer experience is better for e-commerce. Customer finds things easier as they just type what they want in the search section and there is sorting features according to price, popularity and etc. Also, the customer has quicker check out as there is no need to stand in a queue to pay the cash.
Advantages of physical stores
- Touch and try. The ability to experience the products are very important for many people to have peace of mind to make a purchase. Before buying, you want to experience tv’s screen colours and sound, you want to have options to choose vegetables, you want to try a shirt to make sure it is fit with your body and so on.
- Returning and exchanging things is easier for physical shops. You just need one hour to go to the shop and change to a new one. But for e-commerce, you might need 2-4 days to deliver the back to the seller and return back to you.
Though the growth of e-commerce is high, 90% the sales of retail items is being done by physical stores. Low level of ‘Peace of mind’ because of the high level of uncertainty while shopping online is a big factor more people prefer physical stores, at least now.
Today many physical store players up their level by integrating with the e-commerce sector. This enables potential customers to get benefits from both and many of them do showrooming and webrooming.
Showrooming is when a shopper visits a physical store to check out a product and purchases the product online later. This occurs because, while many people still prefer seeing and touching the product they buy, many items are available at lower prices online. Millennials especially, are incredibly cost-conscious and will constantly whip out their phones to compare prices.
Webrooming is the opposite of showrooming. Webrooming is when consumers research products online before going into the store for a final evaluation and purchase. Shoppers already feel that photos in online stores can be deceptive.