The retail industry is constantly evolving, and the competition between ecommerce and brick-and-mortar stores remains intense. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so who ultimately wins the battle for customers’ hearts and wallets? Let’s take a closer look.
Round 1: Sales Growth
The growth of ecommerce is undeniable. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, ecommerce sales grew by 32.4% in 2020, compared to 2019, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift towards online shopping. However, brick-and-mortar sales also saw a significant increase of 8.2% in the same year. While ecommerce sales have been growing faster than brick-and-mortar sales in recent years, physical stores are still a major player in the retail industry.
Round 2: Consumer Influence
Consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet to research products before purchasing, and this trend is only expected to continue. A survey by RetailMeNot found that 69% of consumers use their mobile devices to compare prices, read reviews, and research products while shopping in-store. However, brick-and-mortar stores still have an advantage in certain products, such as groceries, where customers prefer to see and touch the products before buying.
Round 3: The Shopping Experience
eCommerce retailers have invested heavily in making the online shopping experience as seamless and personalized as possible. Features such as product recommendations, personalized offers, and easy returns have become standard. However, physical stores can offer a unique shopping experience that cannot be replicated online. For example, customers can see and touch products, receive immediate assistance from sales associates, and enjoy the social aspect of shopping with friends and family.
While ecommerce sales are growing faster than brick-and-mortar sales, both channels will continue to coexist and offer unique advantages to consumers. Ecommerce is convenient and personalized, while brick-and-mortar stores offer a tactile and social shopping experience. The winners in this battle are ultimately the retailers that can provide a seamless omnichannel experience that integrates both online and offline channels to meet the needs and preferences of their customers.