In today's technology-driven era, most brands have a strong online presence and more and more customers are using the internet to purchase clothes, food, electronics and other goods. Some choose this option for its convenience and flexibility. Others are lured by the low costs and exclusive deals. Yet, online shopping cannot match the experience of being able to physically touch products. Many customers still prefer to go to shopping malls so they can try on clothes and view other goods in-person before buying. To keep up with consumer shopping preferences, online retailers have started to provide more options than ever before. Some are even buying physical stores or placing touchscreen kiosks where customers can shop from the website while in the physical store. The lines between in-store and online shopping are rapidly blurring.

Store Selection and Product Availability

In 2017, approximately 1.66 billion people worldwide went shopping online. About 79 percent of U.S. customers bought products online in the same year. One of the things that make online retailers so appealing is choice. Customers can visit dozens of websites and compare hundreds of brands with just a few clicks. Furthermore, they save time and money by shopping from the comfort of their homes.

Brick-and-mortar stores have a limited space. Additionally, many brands are available exclusively online or may not have a physical presence in your city or state. The internet allows them to display a wider range of products and keep the costs low. Sometimes, these cost savings are passed on to customers through lower retail prices and special deals. Therefore, online shopping is a win-win for everyone involved.

Price Comparison Capabilities

Customer shopping preferences are largely determined by the price of a product or service. Thanks to the advances in technology, consumers can now compare prices and deals online in real time. This increases transparency across retailers and provides more options for their target audience.

In a recent survey, only 21 percent of customers said they would buy products without checking online prices. About 65 percent preferred to compare real-world prices with those online so they can secure the best deal. The ability to compare prices from different retailers appears to be important for 86 percent of consumers. Even though you may compare prices in a shopping mall, it's more difficult and time-consuming. You'd have to go from one store to the next, check every product and spend hours trying to spot a good deal.

Flexibility and Convenience

Physical stores simply can't beat the flexibility and convenience you experience when shopping online. No matter how busy you are, you can buy what you need directly from your laptop or smartphone. It’s not necessary to drive to the mall, browse through hundreds of goods and wait in line. Plus, you can go shopping online anytime, day or night. The downside is that you have to wait for your products to arrive. Sometimes, it can take as long as one month to receive your goods. When you go to the mall, you can bring your purchases home with you.

Personalized Customer Service

Both physical stores and online retailers are striving to provide the best possible customer experience. Nowadays, most internet-based stores feature live chat capabilities in addition to email and call centers. Some even allow customers to chat live with an agent via Skype or WhatsApp. However, these features cannot replace face-to-face contact. Many customers still prefer to discuss their concerns and ask for advice the traditional way. Additionally, most physical stores provide shopping assistants who are up to date with the latest retail trends and can help you make an informed decision

Try Before Buying

One of the primary advantages of shopping in a mall is that you can try the products before buying. For example, if you want to purchase a sofa or a dining table, you may want to take a closer look and determine whether or not it fits your home decor and is comfortable. This isn't something you can do when shopping online.

Additionally, it's safer to buy electronics and other types of products from physical stores. It's not uncommon to receive defective goods when purchasing from online stores. Although you can return them and ask for a refund, you'll have to wait for weeks to get your money back.

Without a doubt, both physical and online stores have pros and cons. Choosing the best option comes down to your preferences. If you decide to buy products online, take the time to compare prices. Read customer reviews and contact a live agent for assistance.