Pros and Cons of Ecommerce vs Brick and Mortar


Ever since the arrival of Ecommerce, people have been talking about how it will signify the end of Brick and Mortar commerce. But is that really the case? In this article, we take a quick look at the pros and cons of both types of commerce and what the likely eventual outcome will be as they vie for a slice of the pie.


Shared Values

It was originally theorized that businesses that launched onlinechannels would see a huge increase in their share price. However, the truth of the matter is somewhat different. A recent study undertaken by Forbes shows that share gains resulting from eCommerce were only modest. Take the baby product industry as an example.


Yes, Ecommerce added share value, but at the same time, this sector still saw an overall drop in sales which was due to the fragility of the niche as a whole.


As far as other sectors such as cosmetics and vitamins were concerned, both Brick and Mortar and Ecommerce channels shared increased sales proportionately.


The overall effect was that Ecommerce did not substantially change the sales figures of Brick and Mortar outlets.


The importance of demographics

One of the most important drivers behind the competition between Ecommerce as opposed to Brick and Mortar is the demographic. When comparing the impact of Ecommerce, we see a similar situation to the printed book vs electronic book trade. Here, it very much depends on the structure of the local population and what we find is that it is very much a case of ‘horses for courses.’

Some demographics prefer the Ecommerce outlet, whereas others opt for Brick and Mortar.


The convenience of the customer

Customer convenience plays a huge role in the success rate of Ecommerce. Being able to shop from home and avoid bad weather, as well as avoiding problems finding parking spaces are big pros for Ecommerce. The other thing that plays a huge part in the success of Ecommerce is store hours. Most Brick and Mortar stores have finite opening hours whereas a website is open for business 24/7/365.


On the other side of the coin is the convenience customers can take advantage of with a Brick and Mortar outlet in terms of customer service. Complaints, help, refunds etc. can all be dealt with there and then on the spot, whereas with Ecommerce, it can take a much longer time to resolve whatever the issue is.


Collect on the spot vs delivery

If you are shopping for small items easily carried, a Brick and Mortar outlet has the advantage that you immediately take your purchase away with you. The disadvantage with shopping online is that your purchases have to be shipped to you one way or another.


Pressure vs Trust

One of the things that a lot of real as opposed to virtual shoppers are exposed to is the pressure of the sales-person, especially if he/she follows you around. It’s a big turn-off for many. With virtual shopping that doesn’t happen.


Being followed around also makes you feel like you are not trusted. On the other side of the coin, having a sales-assistant on hand means you can get answers to any questions you may have.


Don’t Count out Brick and Mortar Just Yet!

A report by eMarketer forecasted that retail ecommerce sales will increase to $4.058 trillion by 2020 and account for 14.6% of total retail spending that year. But, that doesn’t mean brick and mortar is no longer significant. According to a recent census report, 91% of all sales are still made offline. That number is still the majority of all retail sales.