Buying and selling products online (e-commerce) has been a popular option for businesses for several years. It’s been a growing market but still accounts for just 11.9% of retail and now the costs involved and the rise in more sustainable options for traditional stores could result in businesses starting to be turning away from e-commerce.
In that case, traditional brick and mortar stores now have more options available to them, meaning e-commerce is becoming a less desirable route. How so?
Being able to fit the bill for delivery and returns is an issue for many small businesses who sell products online. With customers expecting free delivery and the ability to return products at no cost to them there are more and more cases of customers buying additional products they probably won’t keep because of the ease of returning the ones they don’t want.
This leaves businesses fitting the bill and causes the online store to be less cost-effective and beneficial for them as more time and money is going towards dealing with deliveries and returns.
Many customers value the ability to see, feel and try products before buying which is why traditional brick-and-mortar stores remain popular. A customer physically visiting a store is an entirely different experience than shopping online and this is something that is preferred by many.
The lack of personal touch and customer interaction between the staff as well as the product itself is a huge disadvantage for e-commerce stores. There is also a social aspect of shopping that is missed out on when consumers choose to shop online.
Many people like using e-commerce because of the ease of paying using a card, this was something many small businesses in traditional stores could not compete with due to the expenses involved. However, there are now several options meaning businesses can buy or rent affordable PDQ (chip and pin) terminals.
Whether the business wants a countertop machine, a wireless portable terminal or a mobile one, these options are now not only available but are very competitively priced. As seen on Company Compare, PDQ machine prices can be as little as £18 a month. This brings convenience back into the court of traditional shops and when you combine this with the other benefits you can see why e-commerce does not compare.
It is very, very difficult to determine the quality of products when shopping online. It is not only the quality of the product that may be under scrutiny, also the quality of the seller.
Anyone can open an e-commerce store and this makes it difficult for customers to experience the same level of trust they have with traditional stores. If you combine this with the difficulty of ensuring security and privacy for online users, it results in people becoming dissuaded from buying online.
International constraints and differences
One of the reasons e-commerce struggles to grow is because of the challenges each different country presents.
Online companies may have a potential demand for products in other areas of the World, for example from an African country, but the risks of fraud and the stress of actually selling and delivering items can be very restrictive and high risk. For businesses to utilize international markets is unfortunately a challenging and risky route at this time.
As it is undeniable that life online is not going to slow or lessen in the coming years, businesses are trying to find a balancing point. Many at least have an online presence in terms of a website and social media page but deciding whether to actually sell goods online is overshadowed by the cloud of costs, security issues and other difficulties.
If a business has the time and finances to put into creating an online store that is high quality and secure it looks like the preference would be to do this alongside a traditional store rather than as a stand-alone. Intertwining the two and combining forces can help sales, brand recognition and customer experience.
The top buying motives for offline shopping include better delivery time of products, better product quality in possession and better product judgement. The top buying motives for online shopping includes a better selection of products in stock, the ability to shop at a convenient time, better pricing and a larger product range.
Generally, there was little difference reported between customer service, safe payment and exchanging and returning products without a problem according to data seen in this retail report.
Looking into the future, it is difficult to see the domination of e-commerce being long-lasting as customers want more from the experiences.
Traditional shops can go that extra mile by accepting all payment types, providing excellent customer service and upholding quality and integrity. They can use the web to increase their customer base and support by having an online presence but this doesn’t necessary mean having an online shop.