eCommerce vs. Physical Sales – Finding The Balance

E-commerce has been steadily growing as an alternative or additional method through which companies can market their products. However, physical stores are still very prevalent and there is little reason to assume that they will become obsolete at any time in the near future.

eCommerce vs. Physical Sales - Finding The Balance

There are more similarities between e-commerce shops and physical stores than one might think, but many business owners still have questions regarding e-commerce, how it compares to the physical retail market, and whether or not to open an e-commerce store. Below is a brief look at the pros and cons of e-commerce and how it is expected to grow over the coming years.

Pros of E-Commerce

The pros of e-commerce for the customer include being able to shop any time of day, being able to shop from home or anywhere else, and not having to fight the traffic and crowded shopping centers in order to obtain the item desired. Convenience is absolutely the key for the e-commerce shopper.

For the business owner, e-commerce is a way to sell inventory without having to set up a physical store and be present in that store during business hours. Alternatively, for those who already have a physical store, having an e-commerce option is a great way to drive more sales because those who don’t wish to shop in the physical store, or who don’t live near it, can shop online and sales that might otherwise not have happened can be obtained.

Cons of E-Commerce

E-commerce does not have many down sides, but one part of e-commerce that is sometimes considered a con for the retailer is having to ship items. Instead of having a customer come into the store, purchase the item, and take it with them, the items have to be packaged and shipped and it can take extra time.

On the customer’s side, one key component of the shopping experience is missing; the customer cannot touch or feel the item that he or she is purchasing. Being able to pick an item up, look at it, try it on if it’s clothing, and so on, is sometimes considered a down side to e-commerce.

Also, it is difficult to photograph items in a way that will show the customer everything they need to know about them before purchasing.

The Future of E-Commerce

E-commerce is a steadily growing sector of the retail market. In 2009, e-commerce made up $1.9 Trillion of all retail sales. That’s 11% of the non-grocery retail market. This year, in 2013, that increased to $2.4 Trillion and 14% of the non-retail market. It is estimated that by 2015, e-commerce will make up 15% of the non-grocery retail market, and this growth is expected to continue.

What does this mean for business owners? The physical store has advantages that e-commerce will never be able to replicate. However, for those without the capital for a physical store or those who want to expand their market and obtain more sales, e-commerce is a great opportunity.

About David Cormier

David Cormier is a blogger for Rakuten Super Logistics, a leader in eCommerce order fulfillment. When he's not analyzing the latest trends, David enjoys supporting the eCommerce world with some online shopping and plenty of online gaming.