Crunch time is here! With only two days until Christmas, consumers have resorted to panic mode! Even the possibility of finding a parking spot close to the mall entrance is highly unlikely no matter how many times you circle the lot. While some people continue to seek out this traditional experience a recent phenomenon, online shopping, has created a revolutionary new method for angry shoppers everywhere. However, as with anything, pros and cons exist with online vs. traditional shopping.
According to a recent report, eCommerce revenue is up 23% from last year. While this number may be reflective of a recovering economy, when compared to the lesser increase of 19% in Black Friday sales, these numbers prove the revolution of online shopping! When all was said and done, Cyber Monday showed 47% higher sales than Black Friday. That is a significant number! Why are more people trending toward the online bandwagon?
After reading Online Vs. Traditional Shopping, the article outlines reasoning for each option. An extreme pro of online shopping is the most obvious, elimination of driving. I don’t know about you, but if I wanted to go to a decent mall growing up, I had to drive at least 50 miles to find one. I am aware that not everyone is from a town in the middle of nowhere, I’m just saying. Another fact, every mall does not have the exact same stores. This leads to another benefit, internet shopping allows for anyone around the world to have access to anything and everything! Think about that for a minute… (Slight pause for “wow” moment).
One of the most important objectives, online shopping often saves consumers money. While some may dispute that websites have the inability to host “year-end” sales events, it is impossible to overlook websites like ebay, groupon, and amazon.com. Store promotions cannot compete with these deals. Similarly, internet shopping opens the doors to price comparing against every other company within a few clicks.
For many, the convenience to shop from the comfort of home, at any hour of the day, is another advantage. Infinite options, sizes, and mix and match suggestions await the consumer without having to worry about limited goods available on the shelf. Similarly, online shops have the ability to cater to more specific and “niche” markets allowing the retailers to find their target audience.
Traditional shopping also has its share of advantages. Instant gratification shoppers prefer the ability to purchase a good and bring it home with them the same day. Extra shipping time does not excite them, but rather gives a reason to jump in a car and go to the mall. Most shoppers also find traditional shopping appealing to all senses. Touching and physically seeing a good cannot be replicated online, especially with big ticket items.
Human contact, and often the fun of hanging out at the mall encompass the total experience of shopping. While some seek this out, others could do without. While the article uses these as advantages of traditional shopping, I would argue instead that it can go both ways.
Ultimately, we all want more time. Time to spend with our families, time to devout to the extra project at work, time to go golfing, the list is never-ending. To me, this is the sole, most important benefit of online shopping. Will people ever decide that spending this valuable resource at a mall is not necessary anymore? One day, will all shopping be done online?
If the possibility of malls going obsolete is any reality, our business may follow. Retail Tech, like any other retail store supplier, would likely go out of business. Do I think this is something to worry about now? Definitely not, but I do believe the point of sale industry should expect a number of changes (as they have begun to see), similar to the evolution of the music industry. Although music still sounds the same, innovations have altered the medium. From records to 8-tracks, to cassette tapes and CDs, technology has continually laid waste to each generations listening device of choice.
With music, we now have mp3’s and the ability to purchase single songs from iTunes. The entire industry has changed. While this may be exciting for consumers, think about the music producers, record makers, and the guy in the factory who made the widgets for the cassette tapes. Their art is lost.
I hope internet shopping does not negatively affect the brick and mortar shopping centers. While it is incredible how this tool has the capability to act as a store, fitting room, personal shopper, clerk, and of course, a cash register, I am not completely convinced. I don’t know about you, but I see potential job elimination. I love online shopping. Do I think it should be a replacement like the CD for a cassette? Definitely not. We need to acknowledge that there are benefits and cons to both experiences. Why not keep the option open?