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The Pros and Cons of Online Retailers vs. Brick-and-Mortar Stores

By Carly Botelho | Small Business

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Moms love the convenience of online shopping – she can make a purchase in seconds from the comfort of her home. It means no more long lines with the kids in tow, and one less thing to add to her to-do list. However, there are certain in-store experiences that moms cannot get online. For instance, clothing can’t be tried on prior to purchase and toys can’t be felt for durability.

On the other hand, brick-and-mortar stores may not offer the seemingly endless selection that online retailers do. Additionally, their reliance on foot traffic and word-of-mouth to drum up business may put them at a disadvantage. Despite these benefits and drawbacks, both types of store are valued by moms and chosen for different reasons.  Who will win the battle over moms’ spending power? Brands must keep the pros and cons of each in mind as they market to moms.

Here is a quick overview of the benefits of each retail approach, and how it affects moms:

Why Brick-and-Mortar Stores Still Matter:

61% of consumers shop in-store, compared to only 31% who turn to the internet. This is good news for brick-and-mortar businesses. One of the largest drivers for in-store shopping is the ability for customers to receive the product immediately. Until eCommerce can find a less expensive solution for same-day or 1-day delivery, in-store shopping will continue to win on this point. Also, moms often shop as a social activity – whether it’s to look for new clothes (and get a second opinion) or as a day to browse with friends. This experience simply cannot be replicated online.

Another major benefit for brands that operate brick-and-mortar stores is the way in which consumers spend their money while shopping. 40% of shoppers spend more than they had planned to while shopping in stores, while only 25% of shoppers do so when shopping online. Beautiful storefronts and point-of-purchase displays can strongly influence moms to make an impulse purchase, and are much harder to ignore than online ads.

Moms may also enjoy the personal connection with store employees, a well-executed store atmosphere, and the ability to touch and hold products before purchase. All of these aspects can lead to higher in-store purchases. Apple, Whole Foods, and Nordstrom’s are a few companies that have done an excellent job of training employees to be knowledgeable about their products and services. This is important more than ever, as consumers don’t get this immediate assistance when they shop online. They may read review after review, but it’s not always as helpful as in-person assistance. Brands must remember how crucial this is as they control how their store is operated. Keep moms in mind, and you may see an increase in sales.

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The Many Benefits of Online Retailers:

For brands, the eCommerce route can have many benefits over a brick-and-mortar store. They don’t require expensive storefronts; instead, more cost-effective warehouses are used to hold inventory. With multiple  warehouses, brands can ship products quicker via online orders, and moms can receive products faster than ever before. The convenience of shopping online is arguably the greatest benefit, as consumers can select a product and purchase it within minutes. Moms can shop after her kids are already in bed, or on a smartphone as she’s out doing errands. This has opened up countless opportunities for brands, as advertisers discover new ways to target moms where ever they are, in order to encourage immediate purchases.

Moms also love to shop online because it allows them to find the best price for products. Whether they follow the brand on social media for exclusive deals or search for online coupons, moms can find a product they want and save money at the same time. In fact, 38% of moms visit manufacturer websites in search of coupons. They can also more efficiently find the best price across many different websites, instead of having to visit many different stores.

Which Will Moms Choose?

For moms, both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers have their advantages, but which one will she continue to shop? Ecommerce is a rapidly growing industry, but until the Internet can provide all the benefits of in the in-store experience, physical stores will continue to be in demand.

However, in-store experiences will need to grow and evolove in order to continue to compete with the convenience of online shopping. Brands need to go above and beyond expectations and provide an enjoyable, convenient shopping experience. This can be done as brands incorporate new technologies into stores to make the shopping experience more efficient, and continue to offer helpful resources for customers. The biggest challenge for brands is to create one flawless and integrated system to incorporate online and in-store shopping together. The brands that can discover a seamless way to make shopping both online and offline connect will be the most successful.

Moms expect a high level of service and dedication from all brands, whether they are shopping online or in-store. Both methods have opportunities to grow and improve as technology continues to advance.  To learn more about moms’ online habits, download our free white paper.


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This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: The Pros and Cons of Online Retailers vs. Brick-and-Mortar Stores

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