When Will E-commerce Overtake Offline Shopping?


When Will E-commerce Overtake Offline Shopping?

E-commerce is taking over the globe. According to Forrester Research, by 2014 over 53 percent of all retail decisions will be made due to the influence of online shops. Over the past few years, it has become easier and easier to shop online or even from your mobile phone. In the future, e-commerce will continue to expand and one day, may actually take over brick and mortar stores entirely. However, some things must happen before e-commerce designers will overtake offline shopping.

E-commerce will take over offline purchases when the following events happen:

When Mobile Shopping is Safe and More Popular than Offline Shopping

Right now, a few retailers allow online purchases through mobile phones. You can visit a store and scan the item at the store, and then an app can help you find the best price for that item online. With just a few taps on your phone, you can easily order the item and have it shipped directly to your house. However, some users question the safety of ordering products through phones and few stores actually offer direct mobile sales.

When Online Shops Offer Better Experiences than Offline Stores

Visiting a brick and mortar store is an experience. All the store displays, lighting, music, and staff are there to help you enjoy your shopping experience. Online stores lack many of these personal touches that make offline shopping so fun. E-commerce will never overtake offline shopping until it can offer customers the same comforting and pampering experience. Companies will have to work hard to give each online customer a personalized, relaxing shopping experience that makes them feel as good as shopping in a store.

When It is Less Expensive to Shop Online

Certain online stores offer discounts off of offline store prices, but many stores have the same prices in-store or out of store. Some stores even charge more for online merchandise. Due to the cost of shipping, an online store trip can cost significantly more than an offline shopping trip. This deters people from shopping online. If companies consistently offer lower prices online, then e-commerce sales would quickly take over the offline market.

When Companies Make More Money from Online Sales than Brick and Mortar Stores

Most companies that have both brick and mortar stores and online stores still bring in higher revenue from offline stores. This is due to a high amount of local foot traffic and because of the multitude of people who refuse to do any online shopping at all. As online shopping becomes more familiar to people as a whole, it is likely that companies will start seeing higher profits from online sales. When this happens, companies will close their offline shops and focus on more online sales.

When Fast Shipping Options are Cheaper

One of the main drawbacks of online shopping is the shipping. When you purchase an item in a store, you get it immediately. This gives shoppers a “shopping high,” which feels good and encourages them to buy more. When you shop online, the items do not show up for several days, which reduces the pleasure from the purchase. While many companies offer free ground shipping, faster shipping rates are still expensive. When companies start offering lower rates on overnight and two-day shipping, online sales will rise, and shoppers will be able to get a shopping high from online shopping as well.

When Clothing Sizing is Consistent

One of the main problems with online shopping is size inconsistency. Every brand has a different fit guide, and many of the guides on a company’s website do not accurately portray the actual fit of the garments. Companies will have to use a universal sizing chart or measure items based on actual body measurements before customers will prefer shopping online.
E-commerce is definitely on the rise, and will continue to grow, but it is no where close to taking over all offline shopping. In the future, companies will likely cut back on brick and mortar stores to save money, instead focusing on building up their online websites to increase virtual sales and please their customers. When the above e-commerce solutions are implemented, only then will e-commerce start to take over offline shopping for good.
Image by Orin Zebest, used under its Creative Commons license.

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