It’s never been easier to buy stuff online. We now live in a time when you can click one simple button and have something shipped right to your door. When your phone can scan the contours of your face to confirm your identity and then send along all the vital payment information needed to make a purchase. Food and wine, furniture, rare vintage sneakers and a sea of clothes are all now easily attained via the web. But just because you can doesn't mean you should every time.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love shopping online. Hell, we all do. One of Valet.'s core missions is to help you do just that. And e-commerce certainly isn't going anywhere—online purchases may have accounted for just 13% of total retail sales in 2017, but a staggering 49% of the growth, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department. A substantial part of that growth comes from Amazon. Want further proof of the behemoth's effect on traditional retail? The week of last year's Prime Day was the lowest foot-traffic week for the retail industry during the entire summer, according to new data from Foursquare.
There's no doubt that online shopping has made our lives a whole lot easier. Why waste time and energy running to stores when you know what you want and can purchase it at any time and any place and have it shipped (often for free) right to you? But there's still something to be said for actually walking into a store and walking out with a purchase. Herewith, just a few reason why it's worth heading into a brick-and-mortar shop.
You’re More Adventurous
“I think that the more familiar and predictable a product, the safer you are buying it online from an online retailer,” said Philip Graves, a consumer psychologist and author of Consumer.ology. When you know what you're looking for, the web is perfect—you can shop around to find the best price and promo codes for free shipping. But when you want to expand your style or try something new, you need to be in the store, where you can look around at all the options and utilize the help of the staff. You're more likely to take a chance on something new when you can try it on and see how good it looks on you, rather than examining photos of the clothes on other people.
Maybe this is different for each person, but I know for me, I don't get the same pleasure when buying online. I think it starts with the opportunity to get lost in another environment. A good store is going to seduce you—with lighting, music and the scent wafting from a flickering candle. And that's part of the experience that I like. It puts me in the right headspace to decide how I want to dress, how I want to live and what I want to say about myself. These are the decisions you make when buying clothes, fragrances and home furnishings. And then after I've found something I love, I take it to the counter and it's wrapped up and handed to me. When I leave, with that bag in my hand, there's a rush I simply don't get by clicking a mouse.
When you're in the store, you know sooner rather than later that those pants fit weird, that the collar on that jacket stands up too high or that while affordable, this good looking chair is actually really uncomfortable. “The more subjective the experience you will have from a product, the more likely it is that you would benefit from buying it in a store,” says Graves. “I once bought a bed online, based on the description and that was a huge mistake. I don't think anyone can adequately describe to someone else how they will feel lying on a particular bed.”
Not all salespeople are well-informed, we know. But at the better shops, the staff can be a valuable resource. They introduce you to new brands and help you develop your tastes by making suggestions based on what you're responding to in the store. Not to mention, some stores offer services like customization or tailoring that can come in handy.
Often, the endless options the web affords us can slow us down. When shopping online, the amount of time spent deliberating over a purchase increases because consumers have access to more information. Other times, searching for the best price or discount codes slows us down. And then, after all that, you have to wait for the package to arrive. When you want or need something now, there's nothing like walking into a store and walking out actually wearing your new item.
Admittedly, online retailers have made the process of returning items much easier than years ago, but it's still a pretty complicated process that takes time and effort. And if you're trying to exchange it for a different size, you're likely a week or two away from getting the right garment after all the shipping and processing. Swing by the store and you'll get it all squared away in a matter of minutes.
Consumers spent $453.46 billion on the web for retail purchases in 2017, up from $390.99 billion in 2016.