For any products or services you would want to buy, a plethora of options are available for you. Apart from the competition between the brands and the stores that offer the same goods, there lies a healthy competition and a classic battle between businesses that use two different platforms – the online businesses and the offline businesses.
Whether to go offline or online is the classic question every buyer, consumer and service-receiver faces and there is no one word answer to this! It is a little hard to choose between an online business and offline business in the present scenario where a consumer is spoiled with too many choices.
What do the Stats say?
With a hefty 55% inclination over the 45% for online business, offline businesses still seem to enjoy that slight preferential treatment from the customers. So what is it about offline businesses that still make it the crowd favourite among the consumers? And that, in spite of all the technological advancements and easiness online businesses promise. Let’s explore the same in detail.
- Product Display – See, Touch, Feel, Try and Buy
The customers always prefer to see and feel the products before spending money on them. Offline business is ideal, especially when the products they deal with are electronic items, jewellery and clothes. Customers wish to watch out the products in live and feel them before buying it. They would love to be able to try it out before making the purchase. This surely is not possible in case of an online business. Hence, offline business option wins a big bonus point in case of product display.
- Having a Physical Offline Store Matters
Customers should find offline shopping more trustworthy. The traditional form of business shows the financial stability of the brand, the business and its owner. This helps to create a sense a trust in the mind of the customers. It is a known fact that consumers should always be cautious of online businesses that are web only companies. A physical store is an indication of the how financially stable and trustworthy a business is. And in addition to that, serving the customers in person adds a touch of professionalism to their service.
Having a physical store gives you more chance for walk-in purchases too. Customers could get hold of such stores while walking down the lane or driving around in the traffic.
- Trust Issues
Online businesses have made quite a bad name for itself thanks to a history of a handful of fraudsters and scam sites. With an offline business, you know what exactly you are taking home. But in case of an online purchase, there is always a doubt about what you are going to get or if you will even get it. Customers always worry if they would receive what they have ordered for. Offline businesses provide consumers the opportunity to inspect the merchandise before they buy it. That surely is not the case with an online business. A few consumers even worry about how secure the payment options actually are.
- Easier Returns and Exchanges
However good the products you buy are, returns and exchanges are bound to happen. Online businesses definitely make returns and exchanges much harder and costlier. This is one big factor that drives buyers to offline stores and there is nothing much online businesses can do about it too. Returns are an unavoidable part of an online businesses as customers buy the products without seeing them or trying it out.
- The Wait is at times too Long
Imagine a restaurant where the food takes up too much time to be served. This is exactly what happens with an online business. Instant gratification is a vital factor for a customer looking to buy a product. The shipping time of an online business turns out to be a mood-kill for a good chunk of the customers. When someone wants to have a product, they would love to have it at the earliest! The very thought of having to wait for weeks to get your hands on that product makes online business repulsive to most buyers.
- Privacy Points
Registering in an online business for purchases is almost like registering to get a private stalker of your own. Most sites don’t offer guest checkout and asks you for your email address, mobile number and other details. Chances are high that from the next day onwards, you would start getting emails and text messages from them every now and then.
- Shopping is not to be done on Computers
Shopping isn’t always just about getting discounts and making everything easy for you. For most customers, shopping is a physical activity they enjoy doing. A few clicks and scrolls on the computer mouse can’t give them the same pleasure actual shopping gives. Roaming around the malls and stores, trying out the products makes it a pleasurable activity for buyers. Online businesses can’t give their buyers any of this and ruins the same!
- Trends Influenced by Consumer Behaviour
Nowadays, customers prefer a mix of online and offline shopping. Here the online businesses don’t manage to create much income as they are reduced to a mere research mechanism used by consumers. 64% of the shoppers are said to research the products they want online and then they buy it offline. This has turned into a popular trend of consumer behaviour where shoppers look for all relevant information and reviews online before making the final decision about the purchase. But the purchase is made from the offline stores of the brand.
Online businesses have mechanisms in their site that makes comparison of product pricing and features much easier. While this features are made use of by many customers, that’s about it in this regard! They still prefer to do their shopping offline considering the earlier-mentioned trust issues, waiting time and the likes.
Considering the vital factors that influence consumer behaviour, offline businesses seems to be the clear winner here! Online businesses would have to reinvent itself in ways unimaginable to compete with its offline counterparts.