Offline vs Online Shopping: The Different Tools, Features, And Overall Customer Experience
There’s no doubt that the rise of ecommerce has redefined the shopping behavior and on a larger scale, the entire retail industry. In fact, 31% of consumers worldwide buy something online at least once a week. And this is only the beginning: ecommerce sales are projected to reach $4.9 trillion in 2021.
Global ecommerce sales will account for 17.5% of the total global retail sales
This colossal growth is the logical result of the many benefits the digital world has to offer. The real added value of online retail lies in its ability to create connections, experiences, and expectations at every stage of the buying journey: from awareness, through engagement, to decision.
Online vs. Offline Shopping
In a world that completely relied on physical interactions, a new method came to disrupt that reality! According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, online sales increased by 18.8% in 2019 (A new record!) while overall retail shopping rose 3.4% between November 1 and December 24 compared to the previous year.
As you can see, businesses, whether physical or virtual, are booming! That said, ecommerce and brick and mortar might have interchangeable characteristics yet it’s easy to notice the contrast.
Creating Effective Sales Promotion Techniques
It all starts with this! The first thing you should think about is how you plan on encouraging your customers to place an order.
The answer is obvious: Deals and Sales Boosters! Although these promotions come in different shapes and sizes, (almost) all of them can be applied both online and offline.
Remember those crazy 1-hour deals at the supermarket? Well those promotions are limited by time therefore creating a sense of urgency that pushes your customers to place an order. The FOMO is real and you can benefit from it!
Adobe Analytics indicates that the conversion rate doubles from 8 to 11 PM - commonly known as the golden hours since “people want to avoid missing out on the day’s deals”
It’s always a good idea to group complementary items together to form a bundle. Customers can purchase these products together at a discounted price instead of paying more for them when bought separately.
Gifts and Giveaways
No one says no to free stuff! It’s always a good idea to throw in a free item to entice your clients to increase the value of their orders.
These can come in handy during the Holidays but that doesn’t mean that you should stop using them afterwards. They’re the go-to solution for people who can’t find the right gift for their loved ones.
You can offer a clearance sale to offload an old collection and make room for new arrivals. Don’t forget to really advertise it!
Sure the staff in physical stores can recommend products to customers but the online product recommendation engine is the real deal. By adding this tool to your online store, the engine will automatically suggest new products to shoppers based on their interests, behavior, and previous orders.
This is the process of fully understanding your target audience and subsequently creating and/or offering the products that perfectly suit their needs. Data collection and analytics are essential here in order to ensure a successful product discovery strategy.
This technique is not solely designed for Black Friday deals but you can benefit from it all year round. It will encourage shoppers to increase the order value so they could get a bigger discount.
Cross-selling and Upselling
These 2 methods are almost non-existent in the offline world but can be important assets for online stores. They will allow you to automatically suggest complementary items to go with what clients have already added to their carts.
“In the last week, over 65% of consumers can recall a brand they saw advertised on mobile”
Implementing a Successful Marketing Strategy
Now it’s time to promote your brand and your deals through effective marketing techniques which will give your business the exposure and the traction it needs.
Fast Exchange/Return Policy
Most ecommerce websites have a clear return policy however, exchanging an item you bought online can be a hassle because you’ll have to wait to receive the new product. This is not the case in physical stores since you can just go back there and return it.
An effective marketing strategy used by online and offline stores to encourage customers to keep shopping from the same place. These programs are usually associated with lucrative rewards.
Informed Purchase Decisions
It’s safe to say that the more people know about the product they intend to buy, the better. In other words, all businesses should ensure that they’re offering all the necessary information which include (but definitely not limited to): price, description, pictures, and reviews.
Not only will this reduce the amount of returns but it will also help you influence purchase decisions.
The factors that influence shoppers’ decisions on Amazon
Source: CPC Strategy
The vast majority of online stores allow their customers to compare the prices of 2 or more products with a click of a button. This process is practically impossible in offline stores especially if you’re trying to weigh up several options at the same time.
A feature that only exists in the online world. Using the wishlist, customers will be able to add the products that they’d like to buy but can’t at this moment. As a merchant, you can use this data to collect additional information about your visitors’ behavior and interests.
Abandoned Cart Recovery
Also an online-only tool; the abandoned cart recovery allows merchants to send automated reminders to their customers who added products to their shopping baskets but failed to complete their orders.
While a simple form of targeted advertising existed for a while in the offline world, ecommerce took this type of promotions to the next level. This is mainly due to the fact that you can collect much more data online and subsequently optimize your targeting strategies.
This is another form of (strictly) online advertising through which merchants can send personalized ads to shoppers who previously visited their online stores.
26% of customers will return to a site through retargeting
Multiple Channel Approach
Brick and mortar stores are very limited in terms of channels. In other words, they mainly use their storefront and street banners to advertise their products and/or services. It’s a whole different story for ecommerce websites since they can display their items all over the internet: social media, marketplaces,...
Providing a Complete Shopping Experience
Nowadays, both online and offline businesses can’t afford to have a difficult and unclear customer journey. It’s been proved that an intuitive and user-friendly shopping experience is the main concern for most clients.
The most important elements for B2B and B2C businesses
Source: Econsultancy/Adobe 2019 Digital Trends
Trying out/on Products
Reports suggest that the ability to touch and try on an item can influence the consumer’s decision 3 times more than any other option. Obviously this feature only exists in physical stores.
It’s only logical to assume that as social creatures, humans enjoy interacting with each other and this is particularly true in the retail industry. Shopping in a store with other people may not be as easy as sitting at home behind a computer or on the phone but it’s certainly more fun.
Collecting Purchases Directly
Brick and mortar shops allow you to take your purchases with you right away - after paying for them of course! This is not the case for ecommerce websites since you have to wait for your order to be shipped.
Instant Quality Check
As an extension to the previous point, you can directly check the quality of the product you’re buying while you’re still inside the store. This is not possible if you’re shopping online.
Throughout the entire history of ecommerce, the main goal for businesses was to attract shoppers with the convenience and comfort they weren’t experiencing in physical stores.
Customers don’t have to wait in long lines anymore, especially during the holidays since overcrowding becomes insufferable. You can now sit at home in your pyjamas and browse through your favorite brands.
This is also in relation with the convenience offered by the ecommerce industry. You can literally checkout with just a click of a button.
“Long gone are the days of having to spend hours in line on Black Friday to get good deals”
Full Product Details
There’s always a risk to miss out on something even with the best sales consultants helping you in the store. This can’t happen in online stores especially if the merchant added all the necessary details.
Brick and mortar shops are designed for a certain group of shoppers such as women, men, or kids. Ecommerce websites can offer a personalized experience for each visitor due to the many tools and features mentioned above.
Final Verdict: Offline vs Online Shopping
In conclusion, it’s not about online shopping being better than offline (or vice versa) but it goes to show that each method offers certain characteristics that are missing in the other.
That said, the retail industry in general is still growing all around the world however, ecommerce is expanding at a much, much faster rate than the offline world. Although brick and mortar has its perks, this fact is enough to give you a glimpse into the future and why it’s the right time to move your business online.
Ecomz is an award-winning ecommerce platform that allows merchants to create their dream store, manage it like a pro, grow it better and faster. It is the only solution that offers the ultimate shopping experience to customers thanks to an AI recommendation engine, a suite of advanced marketing apps, and innovative multi-channel capabilities.
Ecomz operates in more than 55 countries, serving more than 7,000 merchants helping them generate over $50M in sales. Named 2018 Top 5 B2B website by Seamless Conference, 2017 Top 10 Business by ArabNet, Ecomz has also been recognized by Google, Disrupt San Francisco (TechCrunch) and MIT Silicon Valley Program for its achievements and has been awarded by the 2018 Touch Innovation Program (TIP) and BLC Bank’s 2018 Brilliant Lebanese Award (BLA).