Although this may surprise you, there is an open “war” between physical stores and E-Commerce (online stores). Higher initial investment, immediate delivery or lack of confidence are some of the advantages and disadvantages of online and offline shopping.  

More and more retailers are innovating and investing in digital transformation projects to stay in the race because the profitability of the retail sector is increasingly reduced. Brands must reinvent themselves. To welcome an omnichannel strategy within your company, you must be ready. 

Before delving into the advantages and disadvantages of online shops, it should be noted that the two forms of commerce are not irreconcilable. Disney, Bank of America or Nike are examples of brands that use an omnichannel sales strategy, that is, they offer their customers a unified experience across all available channels, both inside and outside the digital world.  

This experience can be implemented through inventory synchronization, barcode, product tracking, and customer account unification. 

However, undertaking both channels simultaneously is not within the reach of all merchants and their budgets, so it is worth reviewing the advantages and disadvantages of online versus physical stores:  

Physical Stores vs E-Commerce  

Best Customer Experience, Point for Physical Stores  

Despite their many competitive advantages, E-Commerce stores are still not able to offer a complete shopping experience. Consumers cannot touch, smell or even taste products in the digital sphere, which has led to phenomena such as showrooming. 

For physical stores, they can come in to feel the material.  For exmaple, if they want to make namecard for their own, they can come into the store to feel the material that they want their namecard to be.

It is therefore not surprising that brands invest millions in free samples and other business strategies, which would obviously be impracticable in online environments.  

High Initial Investment For Physical Shops, Point For E-Commerce  

Physical stores can offer a better shopping experience, but having a stock on display has a downside. One of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of traditional shops is the initial investment required by their sales channels.

The costs of local supply, personnel or electricity are skyrocketing in physical shops, while E-Commerce requires minimal investment in comparison. 

Shopping Comfort, Point For E-Commerce  

During the early years of the Internet, Amazon and other popular online shops emphasized the convenience of acquiring any product “within reach of a click”.  

Today, this well-known advantage is rarely mentioned. But it’s a fact that online shopping is much more convenient than going to the physical store, for example to avoid rain on a bad day, or even heavy traffic.  

Shipping Times, Point For Physical Shops  

On the other hand, E-Commerce cannot compete with the immediacy of retailers. If the product is available in store, the act of purchase entails the instant acquisition of the product. 

To counter this, online stores need to invest more in logistics solutions, which can take days and weeks to deliver a product, even if it’s sometimes a matter of hours (see Amazon Now).  

Distance is also a problem when processing returns. It is estimated that up to 20% of online purchases and sales in some sectors result in returns.  

While retailers can do it without delay, E-Commerce has much more difficulty.  

Immediacy, Point For Physical Shops  

One of the great strengths of physical shops in this match between “physical shops vs E-Commerce” is the previous disadvantage of online shops: immediacy in every sense of the word: requests, returns, product changes, etc.  

Despite all the advantages presented by the E-Commerce, physical shops will always impose themselves in the face of this problem, to which e-merchants are constantly exposed. 

Increased Infrastructure Spending, Point For Online Stores  

Despite all the benefits presented, a retailer’s investment in its human resources is not negligible and it is not easy to provide the training that employees need to address customer concerns and their needs.  

On the other hand, some E-Commerce stores even automate the resolution of requests using chatbots and artificial intelligences. This allows a quicker processing of customer feedback.  

Additionally, automation makes it possible to invest time in priority tasks, while keeping the qualitative side of the after-sales service, which remains important for the success of a shop, whether digital or physical.