The extraordinary advances in computer technology, communications and software development has meant a revolution in online malls for shoppers who no longer need to brave the elements or use the car to visit their favourite stores. The sheer diversity of storefronts now available to browse on a home computer, laptop, tablet or even your phone is all thanks to these remarkable innovations in computer science.
With so many retail outlets now displaying their wares on a visual display, the old saying of “Coming soon to a store near you,” could be more accurately put as, “On your computer screen, right here, right now!”
There are of course many advantages of having this facility available 24/7 and not just to the retailer but to the shopper too. For the business person looking to sell goods or services to customers, online stores have the benefits of:
- No or very low overheads
- No premises to maintain
- No or fewer of staff to pay
- Ability to charge lower prices while maintaining higher profits
- Automatic stock flow itemization
- Integration of accounting with real-time sales
- Wider potential customer base
- Unlimited scope for growth
For the shopper, the benefits of doing their shopping at home are many:
- Saves time in not having to go visit many different brick and mortar stores
- Saves money on fuel for the car and other driving expenses
- Saves money as online prices are generally lower
- Greater diversity of products or services available
- Secure transactions via credit card or online payment processor
- No need to carry cash so no risk of pickpockets in busy shopping malls
- Home delivery means no carrying home what you buy
With so many great benefits to shoppers and vendors from online stores, it might beg the question as to whether we even need brick and mortar stores any more. The many diverse malls (see: diversemall.com as just one example) online means the customer can get just about whatever they want, whenever they want and they will generally pay less for it and not even need to go to the trouble of getting in their car to go and get it!
Will Real Stores Survive?
However with so many plus points on the side of buying things via the Internet, there are still some very real reasons for the continued existence of real world stores.
For starters, people still like to go and look, touch and get a feel for certain items before committing to buying them and you can’t do that with a computer display no matter how advanced it is.
Also, people enjoy the social aspect of “going shopping” in malls and strips of shops where they can get the things they need to buy then sit down with friends over a cup of coffee and something to eat and have a relaxed conversation together. While you can do video calls with a computing device, it’s just not the same as meeting a person in the flesh!
Then there is the service aspect of shopping in real shops. People like to be served and made a fuss of when they are buying things, especially clothes and luxury items.
Whatever you might think of online shopping as a convenience, money saver or simply because you can do it from home, it is here to stay and will only increase in popularity over time. More information can be found here: www.consumer.ftc.gov