Consumer Marketing

7 Reasons Why Shopping in a Store Will Never Go Away

For every shopper that sings the merits of online shopping, there’s the customer that would rather spend money at local retail shops. But why? asks the online shopper. Don’t you like dragging items into a digital cart while wearing pajamas instead of, say, trying to wrangle a shopping cart through a brick-and-mortar store on a Saturday morning? About trying to find a decent parking space? To this the in-store shopper says: I still love shopping in the store much better than online. Let me count the ways.

1. Shopping is a visceral experience.

Shopping is a visceral experience.

Via Juanmonino, iStock Photo

To borrow a line from Apocalypse Now: “There’s nothing like the smell of leather in the morning.” Or Chanel perfume in the afternoon. Or that lamb wool sweater you’ve been trying to decide all evening whether to buy or not. Feeling, smelling, and experiencing goods is the name of the game.

2. Socialization.


Via Geber86, iStock Photo

Online shopping and social media are fun, but there’s nothing truly social about either one. Shopping is about spending quality time with friends or family and asking if a pair of jeans look good or not. It’s not about snapping a selfie in a dressing room hoping someone will respond before the line gets too long.

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3. The mall workout.

The mall workout.

Via Maica, iStock Photo

If you hate going the gym, walking through a mall is a great way to burn calories. Just bring your Fitbit or pedometer and walk on. Don’t have any of those gadgets? Use a site/app such as MyFitnessPal to calculate your shopping calories by plugging in the amount of time you spent “walking, leisurely pace.” So while sitting on the couch and ordering goods online may be convenient, it’s not helping you burn off the fast food you had for lunch.

4. No shipping frustration.

No shipping frustration.

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Sure, you may think you’re saving a little cash online, but once you factor in standard, express or overnight shipping – or spend more than you planned to for “free shipping” – how good does the online deal end up being? Not to mention the snowstorm on the other side of the country delaying the shipment for a week or so.

5. No product disappointment.

No product disappointment.

Via gpointstudio, iStock Photo

How many times have you ordered something online only to have it not fit, be the wrong color or look nothing like the picture on the computer screen?

6. You can use your favorite shopping apps.

You can use your favorite shopping apps.

Via Geber86, iStock Photo

Just because you leave your laptop at home to go shopping, it doesn’t mean you can’t leverage technology to find a good deal. There are several shopping apps to have in your back pocket, such as looking up in-store coupons on RetailMeNot, finding sales nearby on Find&Save and earning points every time you walk into a store with Shopkick.

7. Instant gratification.

Instant gratification.

Via vgajic, iStock Photo

One of the things fulfilled when you shop is instant gratification. There’s another economic term for this: transaction utility. You buy a product not because you need it, but because of the joy the purchase gives you. Clicking on a pair of online shoes just isn’t the same as carrying the shoes in a shopping bag.

Times may be changing, but local commerce isn’t going anywhere. Despite the never-ending wave of ecommerce buzz, online shopping only makes up 5 percent of retail in the U.S., while brick-and-mortar holds strong at 95 percent. Ask all those shoppers to count the ways in which they love their local retailers, and you’re going to end up with one long list.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 13

  • I believe the quality you choose makes a difference too. If you want the cheapest, or the best fit for your budget, the real store allows you to choose. Most stores offer good, better and best. You are never sorry for buying what you love!

  • EXPEDIENCE, EXPERIENCE, & THE POWER OF TOUCH; IT IS ABOUT OPTIONS: All of the reasons and especially Reason #7 say a lot but the list does not say it all. “Times may be changing, but local commerce isn’t going anywhere. Being a society that is accustomed to having it all; we will always want all of the options.”~ Libra White— For things that are predictable, not time sensitive, and the relationship of a trusted vendor, online is a cinch. For all of the reasons Lisa mentioned, the POWER OF TOUCH and INSTANT GRATIFICATION prevails….However expedience and experience will continue to use the option of online.

  • This was not written by someone with a shop. Having a store myself, she over-look two issues.

    -Retail rents are way too high.

    I closed my store in favour for zero rent on-line, Yet the landlord is still asking top dollar for the now empty store. Maybe he reads too many artilces like this one.

    • It takes money to make money. If you follow the 4 P’s, Product, Price Place Promotion, the most effective is place. The better the place the less advertising expense. We closed one store to consolidate and they did follow.

  • There is another reason: Personal attention. People, like the interaction and the personal service they receive when they are shopping. Questions are answered right away and the sales rep at the store can be very helpful in making a purchase decision. Customer care and the attention provided keeps the customer coming back time after time. There is a lot to be said about customer loyalty.

  • Oh! I forgot to add that I do own a store. The internet is just another way to do business. But NOTHING beats a face to face relationship. I have many loyal customers who also shop through the internet, I do it myself sometimes. But the showroom there are many things that are not easy to buy through the internet. Many of the largest on-line stores are beginning to open showrooms and actual physical stores in order to gain more share of the market and to solve many of the problems encountered in the internet business model. There is a reason why the internet is still a small portion of the pie. I am not saying that the internet business is not important and necessary. I view it as another tool to service and retain your customer base. As far as landlords overcharging, it is like anything else in business, they can price themselves out of the market and sit on empty buildings.

    • I own a boutique, too…You’re so right, Manny! Plus, note to all those people who “only shop online”…do any of the big online retailers support your child’s sports team, donate to your club’s auction, keep your property values up, pay taxes in your community? Think about the economic ripples each purchase causes…keep the dollars local, whenever you can!

  • I believe the line from Apocalypse Now was ‘ I love the smell of Napalm in the morning’…a completely different sensory experience!

  • As a retail executive, I also believe stores will never go away. We have online shopping to contend with of course, but it’s the retailers that adjust, innovate, and focus on the right things that will survive and stay competitive. Not just in shopping, but in the way we live our lives, there’s just certain things that a computer or robot can’t replace, like the factors laid out in this article.

  • Shopping in stores is an art. Strutting through the new collections and colours stimulates one’s desire to try things on. The smell and feel of fabric is like experiencing an Opera for the first time, or hearing Nina Simone; it’s moving. You can never experience that from shopping on line.

  • I agree with this, something about social interactions that makes me yearn for more! It brings it ot life for me and keeps me coming back for more!!!

  • It really depends on the product or service offered but what will never go away is the shopper who wants to browse in store and then search online for the best price.

    It depends greatly on the product and its exclusivity as to whether a store can thrive in this kind of environment.

    Competition is a good thing generally but in many areas of retail it has come down to price.

    Service and presentation are often overlooked where there is a significant saving to be made. This is the unfortunate challenge for stores, customers expect the service but also the best price.

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